Finding Ada in the PHP Community

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As you probably know by now, March 24th is Ada Lovelace day. Simply put: the day to put a little spotlight on the female tech colleague you admire most. Without the risk of looking like a suck-up, you can turn your whole blog into an ode to that someone special on your team. The idea is to write about only one person, but there we run into my main weak point: you have to pick your favorite. After thinking long and hard, I decided I just knew too many women who would deserve an ode. In this post, I’ll bend the rules a bit, and instead of one full post about one woman, I write a small section about every woman I know in the PHP community. Where known, I’ve added a link to their blogs, and if you google around a bit, I’m sure you can find a full ‘Ada’ post about each and every one of them. Since I can’t choose which I like most, I will instead order them alphabetically. This is definitely not a complete list, but just the ones that keep the highest profiles in the PHP Community

Elizabeth Naramore (ElizabethN)


So, I guess I get to start out with the cutest distraction on Twitter then. As little room as there is for the display picture, she sure uses it all up to show off her beauty. On IRC she has one of the highest profiles too, and most of the regulars already have had the pleasure to have a chat with her. Not surprisingly, she’s liked a lot. Who doesn’t like a woman who codes PHP, sells gadgets and toys for geeks *and* can tell you more about football than the average men can?

Elizabeth-Marie Smith (auroraeosrose)


Having the most unpronounceable nick on IRC, she leaves many people with the first impression of “that one with the difficult nick”. While many would consider a clone or two of her not such a bad idea, we currently still have to be satisfied with 1/3rd of her, where the other 2/3rd is busy doing the mommy thing. I wonder why she hasn’t got that compiled on windows yet.

Emma Teigen Vartdal (pinkemma)


While she is a very friendly habitant of the PHP Community, she doesn’t keep much of a high profile, so there’s not so much I can tell about her. She’s the big sister kind of type, very friendly, doesn’t bite and there without making a parade, so you only start to miss her when she’s not around. When not around on IRC, you will likely find her running or mountain-biking on her so-called shecycles.

Juliette Reinders (jrf_nl)

What Lornajane is for PHPWomen in general, is Juliette for Western Europe (without UK). Seasoned by years of experience as a woman in IT, she continues to use her abilities for the greater good: making the IT world a bit nicer place for women. Even when she’s in the middle of moving between houses, she still makes time to make an appearance at a PHP usergroup meeting to advocate PHPWomen, and to educate men on why there’s a need for the group to exist.

Kana Yeh (KanaYeh/MissYeh)


One of the promising up-and-coming in the world of PHP. While maybe not yet the most seasoned developer around, her eagerness to learn and unusual approaches to issues do promise a lot more from her. Currently residing in the UK and, as we speak, looking for a good internship to learn from the pros. Do you think you can teach her, or know someone else who does in the vicinity of Londen? Find her on Twitter or IRC, and let her know!

Kathryn (BinaryKitten)


Okay, this one actually took me quite a while. I’ve seen her for around on IRC for like forever, and have talked with her several times, I just can’t remember, or find, her last name. Guess the kitten part was just too cute to forget, and the rest of the name didn’t even make it to my long-term memory. But hey, who doesn’t like cute kittens? Imagine, she codes PHP too, and knows her way around the wheels of steel. If that wasn’t enough, she’s also an important member of PHPWomen community, and started the idea there to write a PHP Recipes book (food and code in one book, just genius). Hope she won’t get into too much plotting, as she’s also occupied writing novels.

Ligaya Turmelle (lig)


Full time goddess, part time PHP programmer, MySQL rockstar (maybe not completely for the skills yet, but she definitely is a reason that makes you want to consider MySQL for your project). Also one of the highest profiles on IRC, and one of the biggest motors of the PHP Community in general and the PHPWomen community in particular. Though I haven’t measured it, she likely has the biggest heart in the PHP Community, and has a warm welcome for all newcomers for many years already (including myself, a couple of years ago).

LornaJane Mitchell (lornajane)


While I probably should just shut up and let her do the talking (pun intended), I’m going to try to capture her in a couple of lines anyway. She’s one of the most visible members of the PHPWomen community, and will definitely make you aware of that if you happen to come anywhere near a PHPWomen stand at conferences. She almost got me in a booth babe shirt last year, and I’m already making up excuses for this years DPC. Besides all the PHP stuff, she’s also very willing to share her female knowledge, if you just ask nicely.

Nili Gafni

Yup, no parentheses for Nili. She doesn’t make an appearance on IRC, and isn’t much of a developer either. Though, since the rules say that entrepreneurs can be listed too (she started and managed a baby/children clothes shop as her previous job), and because she is one of the faces of Zend Technologies us PHP developers get to see when going to ZendCon, I decided to add her to the list anyway. She’s the woman that comes closest to ‘my team’, and one of the joys that make me like contracting for Zend Technologies so much.


Oh, that’s really bad. I don’t even know her real name. Even not after she invited the PHP Community into a soap of over 9 months (and counting), and she’s the mother of the first child (a son) with both parents as a member of the PHP Community. They actually met in the unofficial PHP support channel, got married, and shared all the joys (and sometimes not so joys) of the pregnancy with the PHP Community. Now what did they say about women on IRC again?

Sara Golemon (Pollita)


Maybe one of the most well-known women in PHP, as she’s the PECL princess, and author of *the* book on extending and embedding PHP. If you ever even considered writing your own PHP extension, you should have a copy of her book on your shelf. While she can be a bit bold at times, she often provides good entertainment in the late hours, and knows how to make good bacon too. All in all, PHP wouldn’t be the same without her. Just remember to not include an H in her first name, or you will quickly meet her evil side.

All women in PHP

The list is only compiled of the women I have met in the PHP Community, and my humanly brain could come up with. Whether you are in the list or not, I would like to thank you for making the IT world a friendlier place. You may not always feel valued, you may not always feel understood, but you sure are appreciated. Remember, men can feel just as unvalued, just as misunderstood with women. It’s just that the balance is (still) strongly off, making it very unlikely they run into such issues in their day job.

Thank you for not giving up when it gets a bit rough, and for your contribution to all the good times. Thank you for sticking around when it feels like your efforts don’t seem to matter, and for making IT a more humanly world for both men and women. Thank you for all you have done, technically and socially, and for being an (unsung) heroine. Thank you for being you.


(P.S. Special thanks go out to Elazar and ElizabethN for proofreading (parts of) this text (no, ElizabethN didn’t see her section yet), and to EliWhite for publishing this post just in time)