By Poornima Vijayashanker
The other day I was invited to an intimate networking event for startup founders in San Francisco. We each shared what our companies did, and I of course mentioned that I am working on Femgineer, we provide education services to tech professionals.
While our mission is to get more women into technical leadership positions, we do educate both men and women. We do this because we believe in diverse teams.
Then I went on to tell them that slightly more than 50% of our blog readers and YouTube subscribers are men. Our online courses frequently have male students, and often that percentage is also 50%, sometimes even higher, it just depends on the iteration. In my mentorship program it’s also pretty evenly split. We of course have other programs such as our Femgineer Forums, where 99% of the attendees are women, and a handful of male attendees.
When I said this nearly everyone I spoke to asked me the following question, “Why would a man be interested in working with Femgineer?”
I thought that was a pretty interesting question, and if you’re wondering the same here’s why:
We provide a high quality of teaching.
There are a LOT of places to go to learn online. However, students both men and women come to us because we take a holistic approach to teaching and learning.
We recruit instructors who are practitioners, subject matter experts, know how to teach, and also care about the students learning!
When it comes to learning we know that each student has a different style of learning. Some learn from an instructor lecturing, others by doing, and others by working in groups. To accommodate these various styles we do 30-45 minute lectures, followed by Q&A, then an in-class exercise to be done with peers, and finally homework assignments that can be done alone or with peers.
Despite being online, we care about being high touch and providing a good experience, because those things make learning easier and more enjoyable!
There is a good ratio of instructors to students. Most of our courses have a 1:5 or 1:10 ratio. The courses are taught online in real-time, we provide group office hours weekly plus some one-on-one slots, feedback is given to students individually once they submit their assignments, and we continue to support our students even after they finish courses with us.
We’re also patient people. I’m not trying to be pompous here. What I mean is that too often people teach to hear themselves lecture or wish that students would just get it the first time around. However, a patient instructor is someone who knows that there is a steep learning curve, and some students may need additional help, which is OK.
I make sure that all our teachers communicate clearly and with care. Being condescending only causes students to become frustrated or feeling inadequate, then no learning occurs.
I’ve taken a lot of courses where instructors just spew content or often give up on students, instead of taking the time to figure out how to motivate them and keep them focused and disciplined.
We know students are investing their time and money, so we want to ensure there is a good fit. We do our best to set clear expectations of what they will get out of the course, and make sure they connect with our instructors before they start the course either through info sessions.
99% of what we teach is gender agnostic.
We’re focused on teaching tech professionals how to build products and companies. There is nothing in our courses that has propaganda or a bent to it. Students come to learn how to become a confident communicator, transform their idea into a product, or build a software product end-to-end.
Even though our mission maybe focused on getting more women into technical leadership positions it doesn’t mean that we cannot support others.
We know that some people have some limiting beliefs about themselves that hold them back. We recognize who these students are, and we help them get over their own hurdles and biases so that their minds are free to learn. In my mentorship program, I’ve found that both men and women tend to have these beliefs. Through one-on-one coaching over time they can overcome these beliefs.
They want to learn and change the ratio.
Others are interested in working with Femgineer because they have a mother, wife, daughter, sister, cousin, employee, or just a dear friend who they want to see succeed and be happy! They are eager to learn how they can help.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. You can just read how our students have benefitted from working with Femgineer.
Finally, I initially chose the name back in 2007 to reflect who I am: a female engineer, and to show the world that we do exist, can build products, and companies.
If you’re interested in working with us or learning from us then feel free to reach out anytime. You can leave a comment below, or chat with when we’re online.