Vera Reynolds

Creating Bridges in Tech: RailsBridge Workshops for Underrepresented Minorities

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In many ways, the tech industry has grown tremendously since my childhood memories of hearing the dial-up modem tone and waiting minutes (!) for a picture to load. At the same time, even to this day, the industry falls short when it comes to representation.

Much has been written about the tech industry’s underrepresented minorities (URM), and all the different reasons—which are beyond the scope of this post—that lead URM to not pursue a career in tech. So how do we support those URM that do take the leap, and encourage those that don’t realize that they can take it?

There are several awesome organizations that have sprung up to serve those needs, such as Black Girls Code and Out in Tech. I am a member of one such organization, called RailsBridge.

RailsBridge has been around since 2009, when it was born out of a desire to increase women’s presence in the Ruby community of San Francisco. RailsBridge events are one-day workshops that offer beginners a chance to explore a tech language/framework in a group setting. Since its inception, the workshop has grown nationally and expanded beyond Rails. Here in Denver, we have held Rails, JavaScript, and iOS events.

RailsBridge event in Denver

Our main goal is to offer inclusivity, support, and community. The BridgeFoundry Code of Conduct summarizes the effort nicely:

We seek to create a community of software developers that are reflective of the diversity in the general population. To that end, we are dedicated to creating welcoming and friendly learning environments.

Starting out in tech, especially if you don’t have a Computer Science degree, can be a daunting task. Sure, there’s a breadth of resources available, but that breadth can be daunting, especially for beginners. But the benefits of the degree are multifaceted. For one, there’s the practical aspect of academic knowledge and training. But there’s also the everlasting network of classmates and alumni groups that may be just as valuable as the course work. We hope that people who come to RailsBridge can create or expand their own network of techies. We also hope that they realize that learning Rails (or insert your favorite technology of choice) can be fun.

Because the event is only a day long, we don’t expect people to walk away with the necessary skills to land a tech job. We’re happy if they walk away encouraged to continue their journey, and perhaps with a few new friends who are on a similar journey. Sometimes our paths cross again. Many people attend multiple events that focus on different technologies. Other times, people return to TA an event they’ve attended in the past. One of the participants continued on to complete a bootcamp program, and was later hired as an engineer by Pivotal—a huge win-win, as far as we’re concerned!

RailsBridge event in Denver

Are we going to singlehandedly explode the representation bubble in tech with RailsBridge? Of course not, but as long as we help even a couple URM stick around and add their voices to the mix, I think it’s a worthwhile endeavor.

Interested in learning more about upcoming events in your area? Visit for more info.