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March 23, 2015

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has recognized senior Maegan Clawges with a University Award for the Advancement of Women for 2015.

The award is presented to three recipients annually, one faculty member, one staff member, and one student. The award recognizes contributions to the advancement of women at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and, in particular, for women and men who have elevated the status of women on campus in sustainable ways; helped to improve campus policies affecting women; promoted and advanced the recruitment, retention, and upward mobility of women; participated in and assisted in the establishment of professional development opportunities for women; and/or participated in and assisted in the establishment of academic monitoring for women.

Clawges, a senior computer science and graphic design double-major, was recognized for her work as founder of Pearl Hacks, a coding competition (known as a hackathon) aimed at increasing the numbers of women in computer science and other STEM fields. Pearl Hacks invites women with any level of coding experience to develop skills by attending workshops and working on projects with fellow students. Mentors from technology companies are also on hand to help educate and inspire attendees. The second Pearl Hacks event drew more than 400 high school- and college-aged women from across the mid-Atlantic region on March 21 and 22, 2015.

“University-wide recognition for Pearl Hacks means a lot, especially for female students at UNC. The event focuses on building community in a field that can be lonely. Support from the university community will be essential in continuing the mission of Pearl Hacks in the years to come. I am honored to represent the computer science department, journalism school, and my organizing and volunteer teams in receiving this award.”

Clawges was selected to receive the award by a committee made up of faculty, staff, and students from across campus. She was honored by Chancellor Carol Folt during the Carolina Women’s Center’s annual Gender Week Celebration on March 23, 2015, where she received a check for $2,500 and a framed certificate.

Related content:
Pearl Hacks addresses gender divide in computer science, UNC Department of Computer Science
How a UNC Senior Built a Women’s Movement with Pearl Hacks, ExitEvent
Time Warner Cable News Video Report on Pearl Hacks