All posts by Michelle Sanver

Let’s talk about gender diversity, it’s not a taboo

When I was a little girl, I was more into things than people. I did not like barbies or dolls, but I was fascinated with barbie’s dog because it was battery-driven. I loved how it worked and moved around, and it had things you could stick to its tongue, like a bone or a newspaper. And it was cute.

Now, this led to me being excluded from most “hangouts” with girls as I grew up, as they mostly got interested in things like barbies, then later on boys and make-up. I wanted to pay more attention to crafts, lego and computers. My parents never told me I should spend my time on anything specifically, they simply supported me in developing naturally.

I don’t know what all of these girls chose as their careers as they grew up, as I did not need nor want to keep in touch with them. The few I know of are not in tech.

As a gadget nerd, I wear an Apple Watch. Among other things, it tracks my heartbeat. When I read the research that said that women are typically more interested in people than men, my heartbeat went up quite a lot. I became angry and upset and wanted to scream BULLSHIT. My thoughts went along these lines; “I am not more interested in people than things, so the research is false and obviously some stupid fu**”…

I stopped myself there. When I start swearing in my thoughts, I know that something is not right.

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We can all learn from the Drupal community

I started hearing about Drupal 8 back in 2014, how this CMS would start using Symfony components, an idea I as a PHP and Symfony developer found very cool.

That is when I got involved with Drupal, not the CMS, but the community.

I got invited to my first DrupalCon back in 2015. That was the biggest conference I have ever been to, thousands of people were there. When I entered the conference building I saw several things, one of them was that the code of conduct was very visible and printed. I also got a t-shirt that fit me really well – A rarity at most tech conferences I go to. The gender and racial diversity also seemed fairly high, I immediately felt comfortable and like I belonged – Super cool first impression.

I as many other geeks have social anxiety, so I was still overwhelmed with all these people, and I did not know who to talk to. Luckily Larry was there so I had someone to hug.

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Conferences that are parties with talks – PHPBenelux and SunshinePHP

I recently read this tweet by @CalEvans, I couldn’t have said it better myself. 

“Sunshine PHP 

@adamculp threw a party in Miami and a conference broke out. :) #ssp15”

When I return from a conference, I feel like I return from a party, I’m exhausted but I will always have had the time of my life. 

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Happy birthday Ada Lovelace

On the 10th of December 1815, that is 199 years ago, Augusta Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace, was born. She is more commonly known just as “Ada Lovelace”. She is often seen as the founder of computer science and as the first programmer in the world.

Her upbringing and the way she got into computer science is quite amazing considering the time she lived in. Her mother supported her and brought her up as a scientist, logician and mathematician. Ada loved everything that had to do with machines from a young age.

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LaraconEU 2014 – Empowering the PHP people

I went to LaraconEU last year and honestly I felt uncomfortable being the only woman in a conference of about 200 people, I noticed that I was a woman in that crowd, and it felt like everyone else did too. This year however, it was very different, let me first talk a bit about the conference from a technical perspective, then come back to how LaraconEU made a big step towards empowering me and the community as a whole. 

I gave one of the first talks on the 28th of August about Neo4j, if you haven’t heard about it yet it is a graph database that helps you handle highly connected data. 

My presentation was about a pet project of mine, omnomhub and how we use and plan to use Neo4j for our data. Overall I had great feedback, inspired people and talked about neo4j all over the event, even though my live demo failed!

That day another talk that stood out was by Adam Wathan about TDD: The good parts, basically teaching us that it’s ok to sometimes not abstract til you drop, thanks for that note!

I was pleasantly suprised when I saw that Gabriela D’Ávila was talking about “coding like a girl” and how we as an industry benefit from a diverse team. It was her first time giving a talk in English, with a really difficult topic on top of that – Kudos to her.

The community day ended with drinks and fire, all in all an awesome day where I met amazing people and new friends that inspired me to be a better developer. I’m also happy that I got to give a talk to inspire other people. 

The idea of the community day was actually brilliant, it is a day before the conference where more people are able to come and afford to attend, it is the first time I saw this at a conference, and I’d definitely like to see more of it. 

The second day the main event started out with Matt Stauffer who talked about “Sharing Laravel”, it was about a lot of great tooling and technology that a lot of people should know, with some humour involved aswell, just a great talk to start of the conference. After Matt Erika gave her talk about “portable environments with vagrant”, it was absolutely amazing she rocked the scene and inspired a lot of people to try it out – It looks way less difficult when she does it, and ansible is awesome, what I took away from her talk: If you haven’t yet checked out ansible do so.

There were some other great talks this day to finish of with Taylor Otwell – The Laravel GOD – talking about Laravel and new things coming. I read a blogpost by Ross Tuck that sums up the technical content and new things we found out about laravel quite well so I won’t do that myself:

The second day of the main event, or the third day of the conference, the talk that stood out for me the most was by Kayla Daniels “The Code Manifesto: Empowering our Community”, it made me and others think quite a lot, and she managed to actually silence the twitter stream! 

Some things that I thought about after seeing her talk is that… To empower the minority we simply have to empower everyone, then the minority is also included, which is exactly what LaraconEU did this year and what we do with PHPWomen. 

This year I didn’t feel like a woman, I felt like a developer. How come? I was not the only woman in the room, and I know that LaraconEU worked very hard to make this happen, so thank you LaraconEU organisers for empowering me, working with PHPWomen and for empowering the PHP community, not only with technical content but also with everything around it.

If you want to see the talks of the conference the two main days were recorded, all the talks were of great quality so I highly recommend seeing them:

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