Why Did we Sponsor PHPWomen?

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 ūüėČ

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‚ĄĘ. 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.

6 thoughts on “Why Did we Sponsor PHPWomen?

  1. Agreed – good post Gary! ūüôā PHP Women is doing a great job, and more people should know how awesome they are.

  2. I don’t agree. I am sick of victimization of everyone that don’t belong to hetero-white-male group. I really don’t feel privileged just because I have penis, blue eyes and I’m attracted to women, not men.

    During interviews people ask me about technical aspects of my skills end expect me to present them in clear and professional manner. The amount of “shit” I have to take, dear author, from other people is the same as women or gay do – in modern western society of course.

    I sincerely hope that such organizations will disappear with the same speed as they are appearing, because both, professional men and women see how ridiculous they are. You can’t fight inequality with inequality, but you can obviously earn some money that way.

    • “The amount of ‚Äúshit‚ÄĚ I have to take, dear author, from other people is the same as women or gay do”

      And it’s comments like this that show how far we have to go.

      You are, of course, entitled to your opinion but I don’t believe you’ve formed that opinion by reading past the first sentence of this post. At no point have I ever thought you should feel privileged if you’re a white hetrosexual male. The entire point of this post is to inform you on how inclusivity is the way forward in my opinion.

      I feel sad ūüė¶

      • I am sorry Gary but your assumption is wrong. I have read the whole article.

        “At no point have I ever thought you should feel privileged if you‚Äôre a white hetrosexual male.” – a mere fact that such community exists and is being supported implies this.

        I, and probably many more white male developers can tell from their own experience what non-inclusive community means. I would like to be a part of some communities but I cannot because either I do not have appropriate connections or I do not bring anything into these communities. Of course I am not woman or black so the only person to blame is myself – and that’s fine, I can take the responsibility.

        In fact, if you want to improve, become somebody in the community, earn respect you will get rejected, you will have to persevere and work your way up. No matter who you are.

        I work with one woman developer not because she’s a woman but because she spends her days coding and can do it well. She is not the hottest girl I met but she writes good code, that’s why she earned respect in the company.

        In my opinion “minorities” should not stick to organizations of this kind because they make them focus on who they are, not what they should do. Buy a book, spend months coding, show your work and you will get equality. Best of luck to people who work, not claim :).

        • Hello Adam,

          What do you stand with such ease is a perfect (or at least utopian) world where there is no distinction of race or color. Where the decisions made were not made ‚Äč‚Äčbecause the person is or has beautiful silver spoon, on many occasions.

          This type of organization attempts to reduce the distance that we want with what happens in reality, and in this case there is unfortunately a specific bias against female programmers that are left to be chosen by simply being women in a predominantly male environment.
          The intent is not to make special female programmers, is to provide opportunities in environments where it is not given opportunities for causes of prejudice.
          And if the goal of the organization goes through, the company will cease to exist.

          Complementing. This is also the regional (in general), because what is considered beautiful there (heterosexual white male with blue eyes) can not be anywhere else.

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