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Superheroes Over Princesses This 2016 – 6 Empowering Halloween Costumes

This year, “superhero” costumes have dethroned “princess” as the choice Halloween costume.  This ends an 11 year reign and marks a shift in how women are represented in leadership, tech, politics, media and pop culture. We can’t wait to see all the heroic women flexing their immense star power!

Not all heroes wear capes. Hackbright Academy is all about empowerment, so we put together a mix of powerful, interesting and fun costumes inspired by women who’ve broken barriers and empowered our generation. These costume ideas showcase women with unique super-powers like technological know-how, athleticism, inner strength, and leadership.

Sonia Sotomayor

Sonia Sotomayor — Justice of the Supreme Court

Costume Props: that graduation gown you have stuffed in the back of your closet, a frilly napkin, and a gavel.
Three, we said three female Justices are now on the Supreme Court bench. Such #squadgoals. We admire Justice Sotomayor for becoming the first Latina Supreme Court Justice in U.S. history and the third woman, no small accomplishment. Sotomayo, raised by Puerto Rican parents, describes the challenges she overcame in housing projects in New York in her memoir My Beloved World.  She has said, “Until we get equality in education, we won’t have an equal society.” We heart you, Sonia Sotomayor. If you rock this costume, bonus points for getting a friend to slick her hair, don some erudite-looking eyewear, and accompany you Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, aka “Notorious RBG.”

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Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson — Pioneering Woman Mathematicians

Costume Props: NASA name badge, cat-eye glasses, 1940’s dress, pencils and an adding machine.
Do you have a group of girls wanting to dress up together? The trailer for Hidden Figures has just been released. The women who inspired the movie made their mark on history as trailblazers. Their work spurred scientific advances for NASA’s space program, even as they broke both gender and race barriers. The African-American, female mathematicians and space scientists at the Langley West Computing Area were known as “computers,” before that title was handed to the machines.  Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson were integral in calculating the launch and safe return of our first space mission.

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Darlene Alderson — Mr. Robot

Costume Props: Heart-shaped sunglasses, heavy eyeliner, and black Daria boots.
USA Network’s computer-hacker psychological drama Mr. Robot stars several breakout female actresses. Darlene Alderson (played by Carly Chaikin) is a hacker, programmer, and founding member of the hacker group FSociety. Mr. Robot receives critical acclaim for its realistic depiction of hacking — social engineering, email phishing and other ways criminals get to their victims’ information.

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Serena Williams — Tennis Champion

Costume Props: Tennis racket, a take-no-shit attitude, and a duffel bag full of shiny trophies.
Seven-time Wimbledon champion, Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year, muse to Beyoncé, and fashion icon on and off the courts, Serena has been a huge inspiration to girls everywhere not only through her athleticism, but her ability to hold her head high, and remain focused, in the face of unwarranted criticism.

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Sheryl Sandberg — Facebook COO, author of Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead

Costume Props: Business attire, a copy of Lean In, and you should be refreshing your Facebook page all night.
Sheryl Sandberg is one of the most powerful people in cyberspace and a huge advocate for female leadership. She’s a standout example, overseeing all of Facebook’s business operations. Moreover, she’s acknowledged for mentoring Mark Zuckerberg into an effective, respected CEO. Sandberg is the author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Leadwhich raises issues with the lack of females in leadership positions and calls on women to actively break down the remaining barriers. Her executive outfits and high-heeled shoes, in contrast to Zuckerberg’s hoodie and sneakers, have sparked discussions on whether she’s truly left the patriarchal past behind. But Sheryl’s proud that she wears what she wants, so make sure you grab a red dress or blazer and get that side-parted bob juuuust right if you want to be recognized.

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Jyn Erso — Rogue One

Costume Props: Dark clothing, holster, leather gloves, and a scarf for going incognito.
The latest Star Wars movie, Rogue One — due on December 16, 2016 — features female leaders like rebel Jyn Erso (played by Felicity Jones) and Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly), a former Galactic Senator uniting the Rebel Alliance. Actress Felicity Jones says about Jyn, “She is absolutely a very unlikely heroine. She’s someone on the edges and fringes of society. Physically, she’s smaller than everyone else around her, but… when someone has something they believe in, that’s what powers them, that’s what motivates them, that’s what can give someone enormous strength.”


Interested in being someone’s shero in real life? Become a software engineer in 12 weeks and inspire the next generation of women to help close the gender gap in tech and become programmers! Sign up to learn more about Hackbright Academy, the leading engineering school for women.



8 Scarily Funny Tech Costume Ideas for Halloween!

12119940_1026763860677355_5159088991831318785_o (1)Need some last minute costume ideas this Halloween? Never fear, your friendly Hackbright staff is here to save the holiday.

Meggie Mahnken and Katie Lefevre from the Hackbright education team add a tech-inspired twist to traditional costume ideas and help you really upgrade your soft…wear.


#1 – The Angel Investor

angel investor

Feeling angelic? Call on your inner businesswoman and go as an angel investor. All the startups will want to give you candy. Put on your best suit,  add wings or a halo, and tack dollar bills into your pockets for maximum credibility.


#2 – RAM

RAMPlanning on going as a cute red devil? Put a technical spin on it. As we all know, the horns on the devil were inspired by the horns of a ram, so why not go as RAM? Paint a sheet of hobby board green, tack a sweet gold belt down the side for the contacts, and cut up some black foam to be your memory chips. Get some of those huge staples for miscellaneous soldered bits.


#3 – Net Neutrality

blog photo # 4Hey Hippie Chick. Why not celebrate peace, love, and freedom this Halloween by going as Net Neutrality, man. But the Open Internet is really just a set of rules to abide by! Rules… not groovy… Against the Man… Tolerably groovy. Dress in your loudest flower child outfit, and if anyone tells you to tone it down, shout “HEY, NO CONTENT ACCESS THROTTLING.”


#4 – Password:123456

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month in the US (Woohoo! Who’s excited about that? We are!). Why not go as one of the 25 most common passwords of 2015? Some of our favorites: baseball, dragon, mustang, password, and the reigning champion, 123456. Write it big and bold on a sandwich board or do yourself up in LED rope for maximum visibility. If you catch someone blushing, maybe they’ll change their password. You’ll have done them a huge Halloween favor!


#5 – ConCATenate

We all know that dressing as a cat for Halloween is a timeless classic. Something that maybe NOT everyone knows is that cat is also a useful linux command that prints the contents of a file to the console. Hey, no one said you couldn’t be cute AND open source.


#6 – 404 Error


404-errorPerhaps you’ll want to go for something a bit spookier for 2015. Enter the grim reaper – a dark, hooded figure that’s sure to cast a dark shadow over anyone who dares come close. This is sounding more and more like the 404 Error, everyone’s least favorite status code. Throw a 404 on your cloak and you’re sure to insight fear and loathing wherever you go.


#7 – Programming Language of your choice: Ruby on Rails or Python

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 9.03.00 AMReturn hack from our previous Halloween costume listHackbrighters Halloween costumes are always fun and programming languages do make repeat appearances. Check out Lisa on the right as Ruby on Rails (It says “Rails” on Lisa’s shoes) and Sanby is Python and Flask.


Ada_Lovelace#8 – Ada Lovelace

Return hack from our previous Halloween costume listHere’s a step-by-step breakdown of a Ada Lovelace costume. If you didn’t know who Ada Lovelace is, she is credited with being the “the world’s first computer programmer” – in fact, she was 100 years before her time!


Bonus Protip

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 12.51.38 PMSpiders are a Halloween icon, but their internet namesake also known as web crawlers get little limelight. Instead of decorating those deliciously spooky Halloween cupcakes with spider web icing, draw this diagram of a web crawler. 

And if you want to dress as something that’ll REALLY scare, how about going as the Patriarchy! Jk, that doesn’t scare us!


Have cool tech-inspired costume ideas? Share with us below or post on social media with the hashtag #HackbrightHalloween!

Halloween Costume Hacks for Female Scientists, Technologists, Engineers, Mathematicians and MORE!

For the annual celebration of women in science, technology, engineering and math – “Ada Lovelace Day” – we celebrate the women engineers who have climbed the ladder to leadership positions. Women make up 5% of the technology industry and yet fill only 9% of executive roles in the field. These women executives who can code are role models who inspire, motivate and give back to the next generation of female technologists by blogging and speaking.By Angie Chang (Director of Growth, Hackbright Academy)

Here at Hackbright Academy, we find students dress up as programming languages for Halloween – Ruby on Rails (that’s Lisa to the left), and Python with Flask (that’s Sanby to the right)…

The tech set in the Silicon Valley are a jolly bunch.

In fact, it doesn’t have to be Halloween for Google’s first female engineer and current Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer to don a purple Y! costume in a show of company pride.

Halloween is coming up yet again and what better time to show your pride in STEM women – the scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians with merit and magnitude. Let’s get the names of these amazing women in STEM out there in the world, starting this Halloween!

SCIENTISTS: Marie Curie, Lise Meitner, Rosalind Franklin

To make a Marie Curie costume, all you really need is a long black dress and a few radioactive-looking props. And thanks to Take Back Halloween, check out these DIY/instructional guides on dressing up as Lise Meitner (who discovered nuclear fission) or Rosalind Franklin (a chemist/crystallographer with a huge, unsung role in the discovery of DNA).

TECHNOLOGISTS: Ada Lovelace, Admiral Grace Hopper

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of a Ada Lovelace costume. If you didn’t know who Ada Lovelace is, she is credited with being the “the world’s first computer programmer” – in fact, she was 100 years before her time! Speaking on visionaries, Admiral Grace Hopper wrote the first programming language (the basis for COBOL) – just find a white officer costume with insignia-ladden shoulder boards. Be sure to talk about debugging and nano-seconds…

ENGINEERS: Serenity’s Kaylee, Star Trek’s B’Elanna Torres

Joss Whedon’s cult show Firefly featured the ship mechanic-in-a-jumper Kaylee as the girl-next-door. Also, Star Trek’s Klingon-Human hybrid B’Elanna Torres was Chief Engineer on the Federation starship USS Voyager under Captain Kathryn Janeway. And here are tons of engineer costumes for little girls.

MATHEMATICIANS: Danica McKellar, Hypatia

Wonder Years star Danica McKellar (who played Winnie Cooper) earned her bachelor’s degree in math at UCLA and has a second career as a math advocate, authoring books titled “Kiss My Math,” “Hot X: Algebra Exposed” and “Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape.”

Mathematician Hypatia of Alexandria existed over a dozen centuries ago and is credited with inventing the hydrometer. And while there are no known images of Hypatia, you can fashion your own Hypatia costume by wrapping yourself with fabric to form a chiton – and to help explain and educate others, don’t forget the “Hello my name is” name tag that reads “Hypatia”. You can also take a cue from the 2009 film Agora starring Rachel Weisz as Hypatia (below).

Feminist hulk wearing a blonde wig could be a female scientist…

Thanks to Sukrutha Raman Bhadouria and Christina Liu for contributing ideas to this list! Leave your own ideas for STEM costumes in the comments below.