Welcome To The New PHPWomen – Interview with Michelle Sanver and Lineke Kerckhoffs-Willems

About This ‘PHP User Group Interview’ Concept

This is the #5th set of Know Thy PHP User Group in an attempt to create more awareness of:

  • what is $this PHP UG about + get to know the leaders/Founders/Community behind it
  • what is a PHP User Group in general
  • to personally know all the PHP user goups Around The World – that excites me and I hope you too!

This concept is also a good opportunity for new elePHPants to know about PHP UGs.

PS: Are YOU the founder or organiser of a php user group? Get in touch with me for a similar interview, contact me and/or make a comment below with your email. I’ll get back to you!

PPS: We have a similar concept for “Know Thy PHP Conferences

Welcome To The New PHPWomen

>> A brief history of PHPWomen

The 8th of October, 2006 as a call for the women of PHP to “stand up and be countedLigaya Turmelle and Elizabeth Naramore founded PHPWomen.

Since this time, PHPWomen has grown as a group and now has an active community spanning the globe.

>> What changes have been made in the organisation of PHPWomen lately?

Michelle Sanver – Co-President of PHPwomen

We have changed leaders where Elizabeth and Lig are still in the board, but Michelle and Lineke are the new co-presidents. There’s also three new European board members, meaning the board is more even in American and European members. We’re actively working on promoting PHPWomen with our website and physical presence at conferences and we are currently busy planning for CodeConnexx in November.

Lineke Kerckhoffs-Willems Co-President of PHPwomen & Co-Founder Of ProTalk.me

>> What is your (new) mission?

PHPWomen is an inclusive, global user group providing a support network within the PHP community.

Our aim is to provide a network of support in hope that women in the industry won’t feel so alone and isolated.

>> How do you plan to fulfil this mission with your future plans?

We have several plans to improve our website. Recently we had a new responsive design and we plan to add more features to connect our members with each other. Things like: member registration, where members are located and which members are going to which conferences are features to think of, maybe a newsletter in the future. We also plan to open source the website and we are looking for contributors to help improving our website.

We also have a new google group mailing list where members can communicate and we will post any announcements that we have, feel free to join: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/phpwomen

Of course by organising our own conference every year and being more present and visible at conferences (and partnering up with conferences for free tickets or discounts) we hope to reach more people and extend our member base.

>> How many women are there till now participating/being part of PHPWomen? (approximately)

We don’t officially keep track of our members, but that is something that we are working on. If we would know who our members are it would be easier to offer things and help them in a different way. On our old forum we had about 1500 members, which is a pretty large number!

>> The conferences that PHPWomen has been part of

We were recently a part of Dutch PHP Conference and we will be present at PfCongres in September in The Netherlands and PHPNW in October in Manchester. We are actively approaching conference organisers to be a part of as many conferences as possible. If you are organising a conference, please get in touch, we’d love to be there!

>> Your thoughts about PHPWomen and Sexism

It’s not one of our goals.

>> Is there any private or women-only chats or meetings that women can/should join?

We don’t exclude men, anyone can join our irc channel and mailing list, anyone not being friendly will of course be kicked out ensuring a female friendly environment.

>> PHPWomen is worldwide, but are you aware of any local women-oriented PHP Usergroups?

No, but please let us know if you know of one. We’d love to get in touch with other groups as well.

>> Is there an increase in the number of women indulged in PHP or is it stagnant?

We wish we knew the answer to that question, but we don’t. It is really hard to tell but it’s good to see some women at conferences, who are also speaking. We wish for more female speakers, and it’s one of our aims. We are both speaking at conferences and we hope to be role models for other women in the community. Because it’s awesome to share knowledge!

>> How is PHPWomen contributing in creating an awareness to making women like PHP and programming in general?

We try to reach as many women as we can at conferences. We are encouraging members to go to conferences when they can and help make that happen through ticket giveaways and volunteer opportunities. At the beginning of the year we volunteered for the awesome PHPBenelux conference together and besides the fact that it is so much fun, it is also a way to show others that there are female developers out there doing PHP.

>> Apart from the gender-oriented nature of the PHPWomen user-group, how is it different from other normal (mixed) usergroup and the challenges involved

We are a world wide user group, not the default localized user group. This is definitely a challenge for us because it makes it harder to communicate in real time, it makes it harder to get together face-to-face, and it makes it harder to focus our efforts.

Because travel costs are so expensive, we rarely get the chance to all hang out together and spend time planning for the future, and building relationships with each other so we need to utilise the online channels more than the traditional user groups do.

Finally, while a traditional user group only needs to worry about spreading the word in a small local area, we are trying to spread the word in all corners of the world, which is a much bigger task!

>> PHPWomen is also hosting a conference called CodeConnexx, can you tell me more about it?

CodeConnexx is a two-day, one track conference taking place in Maastricht, The Netherlands, 8th & 9th of November. The conference aims to bring together everyone interested in talking about code.

As we know, choosing a career as a coder comes with its own set of life challenges, and we want to talk about those too. In short, this conference is a different kind of conference, as it connects those two pieces of the puzzle together in one event.

Every technical talk will be followed by a talk about life skills and work/life balance. There will also be plenty of social opportunities to get to know the other attendees. Not only do we want to help you bridge the gap between work and life, we want to help you connect with each other as well.

>> Some final words to encourage women working with PHP

No matter who you are, we are there to support you and help you in any way that we can. Be it your career or life in general. It is easy to feel alone and isolated, but by joining PHPWomen you will not only get support and career help, you will get friends for life.

PHP Women Spotted At The Recent ZendCon 2013

As you know, Zendcon 2013 (October 7-10, 2013) was last week and two PHP women, namely Elizabeth M. Smith & Sara Golemon, were there (amongst others). Thanks goes to Michelangelo van Dam for this picture.

Elizabeth M. Smith & Sara Golemon at Zendcon 2013

What Does PHP Men Thinks About PHPwomen..

Thankful to Cal Evans for sharing his opinion about the PHPwomen initiative.

Cal Evans NomadPHP Organizer

>> What is your opinion about PHPwomen

I’m a huge supporter. I’ve recorded podcasts with them, publically supported them, and am a proud member of their Board of Directors.

>> How do you think it is making an impact so far?

They are making a positive impact on both men and women in the PHP community.

>> Are women making an impact in the PHP ecosystem

yes, but obviously, we want more women involved in the ecosystem

>> Your list of inspiring PHP women?

  • Lig
  • Naramore
  • Beth Tucker Long
  • Sara Golemon
  • Lineke
  • Liz Smith
  • Amy Stephen

>> Your message to PHP women out there in the PHP ecosystem

GET INVOLVED! At ZendCon 13, they had 10-15% women, at Sunshine PHP they had 20% women IN ATTENDANCE. However for speakers, it’s still mainly guys. Get out there! Start speaking, get involved in your local UG leadership. Be vocal and step up.

Thankful to Michelangelo van Dam for also sharing his opinion about the PHPwomen initiative.

Michelangelo van Dam - President Of PHPBenelux PHP User Group
Michelangelo van Dam – President Of PHPBenelux PHP User Group

>> What is your opinion about PHPwomen

PHPWomen is probably the most friendly place where newcomers and veterans to the community can end up. This community is open to both men and women with an interest in PHP and are there to guide and assist where possible. With PHPWomen you never, ever get “RTFM” as a reply to a (newbie) question. I believe it’s the best place to start when you’re new to PHP and the best place to stay when you’re already more PHP savvy.
BTW, did you know that PHPWomen is not a women’s only community? Men are also welcome to join and be mentored or become mentors within this community. I think of PHPWomen community is what I call “Home”.

>> How do you think it is making an impact so far?

From what I’ve heard and experienced myself, there would not be a PHP community without the involvement of PHPWomen. They’re the ones that make things happen and provide a safe haven for anyone new to PHP.

>> How are women making an impact in the PHP ecosystem

We can’t ignore men and women are different, but that doesn’t matter as differences are good for the equation. And I have to admit, women have a rougher time than men in most cases as they are besides developers also mothers, wives and are involved with a bunch of things we men are merely standing on the side line. So yes, it’s often a good idea to have a discussion with female developers and learn how they combine work, children, household stuff and so on just to grow a bigger respect for them.
On the flip side of the coin I don’t make a distinction between men, women because I see them as PHP developers. They deal with the same development issues we have to solve and are equally part of the community. So making a distinction between men and women in development is in my opinion emphasising a stigma that should not be there.

>> Your list of inspiring PHP women?

The women in the PHP community who have impressed me with their talents are (and not limited to this list):
  • Elizabeth Naramore,
  • Ligaya Turmelle,
  • Sara Golemon,
  • Laura Thomson,
  • Lorna Jane Mitchel,
  • Lineke Kerckhoffs,
  • Michelle Sanver,
  • Elizabeth Marie Smith,
  • Beth Tucker Long,
  • Laura Beth Denker,
  • Erika Heidi Reinaldo,
  • Alison Gianotto,
  • Anna Filina,
  • Johanna Cherry,
  • Jenny Wong,
  • Kat Reeve,
  • eryn o,
  • Maggie Nelson,
  • Kana Yeh,
  • Jaime Schmidt
  • and of course the lovely, talented Kathy Evans.
Again, this list is not limited to these outstanding women in the PHP community, but are merely those that I could come up with and have been impressing or inspiring me the last year.

>> Your message to PHP women out there in the PHP ecosystem

First of all, connect to your local PHP community or user group. This is your first and foremost contact with the local development scene. The next step would be to join PHPWomen as it’s a cool community to be a part of and very helpful if you have questions regarding PHP or combining life with your professional PHP career.
See if you could make it to a PHP conference near you.
[Shameless Plug] Come and meet the PHPWomen at CodeConnexx in November in Maastricht (NL).

>> If you want to add something..

I’m proud to be a member of PHP community where in my opinion everyone is treated equally and respectfully (exceptions do occur sadly). I think that our passion for the technology and our drive to innovate and do things better are the reasons we have less gender wars in our community compared to other technologies. And for that reason I think that PHP is “the” technology for every man, woman or alien with no discrimination towards gender, race, sexual or religious backgrounds. Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to be awesome!

Thankful To PHPwomen & Lineke..

I was delighted when I received the following nice stickers from Lineke – 7PHP is yet another proud PHPwomen supporter 🙂

PHPwomen stickers
PHPwomen stickers

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