27th Workshop!

by Jen Lindner

We’ve taught over a thousand women in 27 workshops across the country, and inspired women in the Python and Scala communities to begin doing the same. Right on!

Last weekend at Engine Yard San Francisco, 39 students learned how to build, commit and deploy a Ruby on Rails application and now have access to the Railsbridge network of technical support. Today we’re posting what some of the students and volunteers had to say about the experience.

Cathy – student and first time organizer

I was totally impressed by the organization, the curriculum, the volunteers and the fun and ease with which the participants got the concepts. I was in the beginner class since I haven’t programmed anything in over 10 years. It was fun – the curriculum was great and the teachers/TAs were so happy to help me when I got stuck and just tell me cool things about Ruby and tricks with using the editor. I was inspired that I got it and it makes me want to do more.

The participants and volunteers were super cool and easy to be with. I had the feeling that what the organization values people just being themselves. I heard many peers mention how safe it was and how taken care of they felt. I felt that way too. When you’re trying to learn something new – something that’s potentially difficult, like programming, it makes a ridiculous huge difference to know that you can ask a question if you’re stuck – you don’t have to pretend to have anything figured out!

I hope many more women get a chance to participate.

Alison – student

What made you want to attend the workshop?

It’s a unique opportunity for women. I just wanted to become more technical. I’m a business consultant and my clients are always wanting to integrate with stuff – I need to be able to speak the language and become more technical in my current work.

What did you expect – what was unexpected?

I didn’t expect the TA ratio to be so high. There is always someone to move you along. And I didn’t expect to be put in groups with people who are at my level – that’s great.

What do you recommend about it?

Since it’s open to all skill levels, all experience, you just need a laptop and you can move at your own pace.

Tammy – student

Who would you recommend this to?

I would recommend this to anyone who’s interested in technology, and to people who work with technologists.

How it’s going?

It’s awesome – I’m really enjoying it and learning a lot – I’m at a very basic level because I don’t have any programming skills and the TAs are really good about teaching the basic things that can really slow you down.

How would you describe the experience to others?

Everyone is so nice. The teachers are great , no judgement – it’s like “Okay, let me tell you.” Sometimes at work with engineers – they don’t have the same reaction.

Is there anything you would change?

I would like to learn more about Rails.

Nina – student

What are you inspired by?

The space is awesome, I was impressed that there is so much space and everyone is comfortable. The new curriculum is nicely formatted – the change from the wiki to an application is cool and it’s a good structure.

Amy – first-time volunteer teacher
Amy works for Engine Yard in Portland.

What made you want to volunteer?

I’ve been encouraging women to work in high tech for many
years. And especially since I joined Engine Yard, I’ve
been wanting to give more back to the Ruby community. I’d hoped to get
involved with Railsbridge organization in San Francisco (before I
moved to Portland). This weekend’s workshop was a golden opportunity
to gain experience, which I can contribute to Portland’s women’s Ruby workshops.

How was teaching?

Great! And co-teaching worked really well.

What are you taking away from this workshop?

I’m excited to have met so many inspiring and inspired women.

Who would you recommend this to?

Many people! Especially women who are working in a technical field but don’t have a programming background.

What are you inspired by?

The collaborative atmosphere and people teaching each other, people getting confidence.

Railsbridge workshops are an open source project. We are individuals who volunteer their time and work to make these events happen. All of the materials are open source and we welcome feedback.

Installation instructions


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27th Workshop!

Seattle RailsBridge – Growing, Growing!

by Elise Worthy

Seattle RailsBridge has been gaining great momentum – the women’s outreach workshops are growing in size, sponsorship*, and community support.

A couple of weeks ago, we held the second Seattle RailsBridge workshop, which had 25 students and 20 teachers/TAs.


Sonia, one of our awesome volunteers, wrote up the following review of the event:

I just got back from the second Seattle RailsBridge and I wanted to tell you all how well it went. Very!

Even the weather cooperated by being overcast and foreboding, making us all feel just fine about spending Saturday inside writing code.

The curriculum (http://seattlerailsbridge.heroku.com/toc) was very clean, well-thought-out, and entirely achievable in the given time without being trivial. The color-coded structure of the lessons made each one easy to follow, and the “What Just Happened?” sections were a wonderful way to sum up each step. Well done!

After the class one of the students who I had worked with praised the class effusively. She said, “I felt like I could ask anything and I didn’t worry if it was a stupid question or not. I felt like I could take my time and still keep up. And everyone was so incredibly nice! The teachers, you TAs — everyone! I was very comfortable there.”

I explained to her that it wasn’t an accident that she felt so comfortable, that we worked hard to make it a woman-centric event, in both subtle and obvious ways. It makes a difference, I said, to have the class be mostly women (we had a few male students and most of the TAs were male) because there’s a sort of gentler silence in the room when it’s mostly women, a sense of open space into which you can ask questions. In a male-majority class, you don’t quite get that.

I was impressed with [the] teachers. Both of them did some subtle and powerful things, including being encouraging without condescension, making plenty of time and (emotional) space for questions, being supportive, and staying light-hearted.

Afterwards there was a general sense of excitement about doing more development. A number of women seemed quite ready to pursue more RoR study. Inspiring! I intend to be part of the next one.

*This event was sponsored by Substantial, Blue Box Group, and PeepCode.


Making these events get bigger and better will rely on getting more leadership involved. If you’re interested in organizing (or co-organizing) an event in the Seattle, contact the team through the group page.

Seattle RailsBridge – Growing, Growing!