I’ve just started listening to PHP Town Hall episode 25. Firstly, let me just make a point that I’ve only listened to the first 20 minutes or so, but I feel like I should make some points about why we, at Roave, decided to put our money where our mouth is and support PHPWomen financially.
This post is entirely my own opinion and not the opinion of either Roave nor PHPWomen ;)
Firstly, I’d like to make some points about what the PHPWomen organisation is and isn’t. To quote their website, PHPWomen “is An inclusive & global network providing support within the PHP community”. The key word here is inclusive. The organisation is openly available to anyone and everyone who are interested in making the community a more inclusive place, a less “white male” place.
Whatever your opinions, I can’t see how anyone wouldn’t agree that’s a Good Thing™. PHP Women has people of both male and female gender involved and actively working towards a common goal of inclusiveness and gender equality. To my knowledge, PHP Women is not an organisation for women only, it’s support network (including things like conference ticket giveaways) are open to male and female developers.
Personally, I can attribute my path to becoming a conference speaker directly to the organisation. I saw a tweet from @PHPWomen saying they had a free ticket giveaway to the Day Camp 4 Developers event that was focused on helping people break into the speaking circuit. Very kindly Lineke Kerckhoffs (who is the current co-president of PHP Women) passed that ticket on to me. Believe it or not I couldn’t afford the ticket myself at the time, so this was an amazing gesture that I’ve never forgotten. The event was superb and not only gave me some very valuable advice on how to get abstracts accepted and make your talks memorable, but it also kindled my excitement and belief that speaking was something I could and should do.
The only reason that I recount that story is because for me, that is a perfect example of what PHPWomen is about. It’s about helping developers of all persuasions to be the best damn developers they can be. It’s also about ensuring that people who have previously encountered prejudice or misogyny have a place they can go to vent about these issues knowing that the people there will be supportive, and many will be able to empathise because they’ve had similar experiences themselves.
To paraphrase Phil Sturgeon in the podcast I mentioned earlier, it’s about knowing that there is place to go that doesn’t tolerate people being dicks.
Personally, I also think a lot of non-minority people in the developer community are also ignorant of just how much shit most women have to take. Since I’ve become friendly with a number of the PHPWomen members, both through our formal sponsorship but also from socialising generally at conferences, I’ve been horrified at some of the stories I’ve been told. I’m obviously not going to go into details here, these are personal and upsetting incidents that have been told to me in confidence and friendship. But anyone who thinks that the development community at large and the PHP community in general is not a highly male-orientated sexist place is sadly mistaken.
This has already become a longer and more intense post than intended, so I’m going to wrap up shortly, but before I do, I’d like to make this one final point:
PHPWomen do amazing work in helping developers get involved in the PHP community through mentoring, conference sponsorship and generally being very nice people, regardless of your gender.
You’ll find me in #PHPWomen on Freenode most days.