17 December 2013

The First-Ever RailsBridge Workshop for Women in China

My First RailsBridge Event, at Code America, 21 July 2012 photo 2012-07-21163424_zpscebabc55.jpg
My first-ever RailsBridge--at Code for America in July 2012.

RailsBridge has been a great help to me in the last year and a half (as have many other tech-for-women groups), and, as you can see here, I promised to pay it forward some day. So I organized a workshop in Shanghai!

Not only was this my first time organizing a RailsBridge event, it is, as far as I know, also the first time for a RailsBridge event in China. Hurray!

Here is what the BridgeTroll sign-up page said:

Want to learn website development? Or want to help more women join tech?

RailsBridge is a free, open-source workshop that is intended to reach out mainly to women who are interested in learning web development. This is the first RailsBridge workshop in Shanghai, so we're starting on beginning front-end (the part you see) web development, specifically HTML, CSS, and JavaScript (we will be doing a back-end Ruby workshop in the future). Men are allowed to sign up as students if they sign up with a woman.  

This workshop will be led in English, but we hope to have Chinese-speaking volunteers who can help as needed. Students should bring a laptop that already has Sublime Text (or another text editor downloaded onto it). It is also useful, but optional, to have Google Chrome. As with all RailsBridge events, we will make an effort to provide childcare if needed.

HULT International Business School is most easily accessible from the People's Square Metro stop, exit 14. Map: https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=214705170228158071651.0004ebfaf5744b0203513&msa=0

Please contact Michelle Glauser if you have any related ideas or questions, or if you know of a company interested in hosting and/or sponsoring this and/or other other workshops.

This is the tentative schedule:

9:00-9:45 AM - Volunteer-only get-to-know-you and tip-sharing
10:00 - 10:30 AM - Student registration, breakfast (hopefully we can find a sponsor to provide food)
10:30 - 11:00 AM - Opening presentation, sorting into levels
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM - Groups work on curriculum
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM - Lunch (hopefully we can find a sponsor to provide food)
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM Back to work
3:30 PM - 4:00 PM Regroup, recap, clean up
4:00 PM - Optional after-event at nearby Tock's Deli (during Happy Hour) at 221 Henan Zhong Lu/河南中路221号 (hopefully we can find a sponsor to provide a food or drink reward for the volunteers--students may attend, but they pay for everything on their own)
Tell your friends!

Volunteer Details

Be sure to review the curriculum before the workshop: http://curriculum.railsbridge.org/frontend/frontend
It is also helpful to go over this teacher training:

Student Details

All students need to bring a laptop and a power cord. Please download Sublime Text (or another text editor) before you arrive. We also recommend having Google Chrome.
Items of note:
  • I struggled to get a sponsor for food and supplies, even though I kept the cost super low. I budgeted 1500 RMB (about $250). I'm still hoping to find sponsors for future events.
  • We had 10 volunteers and 26 students sign up. There were 8 volunteers and 17 students who actually came. That's 80% volunteer show-ups and 65% student show-ups (that's an average of 69%, which is almost exactly the percentage the Workshop Cookbook predicted). There were 4 male students signed up, but only 2 showed up.
  • We had typical Chinese food for breakfast: tea and baozi (Chinese dumplings--”包子“)
  • Lunch was sandwiches, juice, and soda (I think we'll avoid soda in the future--it was barely touched). The one vegetarian didn't sign up until the night before, so we already had our order in for meat sandwiches and totally forgot about getting him something. Oops. Luckily there were veggie baozi left over.
  • Some of the volunteers seemed nervous about teaching, so we went over the RailsBridge teacher slides one hour before the event started, but they blew me away with how well they were able to teach.
  • This was a front-end workshop, split into three groups. Every class used the RailsBridge curriculum itself less than I would have expected, but whatever they did seemed to work.
  • Things started to drag about the last 30 minutes of class, and people started going home before we wrapped things up communally. Ooops. Maybe we should have had one more break or ended a little earlier.
  • Everyone who stayed to talk seemed really positive about the experience and interested in future events.
  • No one wanted to go to the after-party, so sweet(!), we saved money and I could go home an hour earlier than planned. :)
  • I was able to finally find out about a Chinese developer meetup (as opposed to the expat meetups I've been attending). Yay!
Here are a few of my favorite pictures (you can see the rest of the photos from RailsBridge Shanghai #1 here).

2013-12-15 11.37.27 Sign-in desk--Michael Tsai
This busy guy was super nice and helped with set-up, signing-in, food, and clean-up.

2013-12-15 11.22.31 Level 2 Shobhit S.
Shobhit is apparently secretly "a CSS king."

2013-12-15 11.20.07 Level 2--Allen Wyma (People Can Code Shanghai meetup organizer)
Here's Allen Wyma (co-organizer of People Can Code Shanghai Meetups).

2013-12-15 11.16.33 Level 1
Michael Shi was a great TA and teacher!

2013-12-15 11.16.41 Level 1 Tony Perea
Language barrier? What language barrier? Go, Tony!

2013-12-15 11.17.43 Level 3
Peace from Yun in Level 3.

2013-12-15 13.33.33 Lukasz Muzyka (People Can Code organizer) amusing students and volunteers alike
Lukasz Muzyka (co-organizer of People Can Code Shanghai Meetups) amused volunteers and students alike.

Success! I hope I can get some more workshops together and build a great women-in-tech workshop network around here. 


  1. I'm impressed. Also, curious to know if there is a similar disparity in male/female tech people in China.

  2. I'm impressed. Also, curious to know if there is a similar disparity in male/female tech people in China.