We went to the Yozu office in the ropewalks area of Liverpool to speak to one of their developers, Sarah Gunn. Yozu are one of our newest members to join our ever-growing network, so we wanted to find out what it’s like to work there.

Here’s Sarah’s story…

Can you share any interesting facts about yourself?

My hobby is going to visit historically interesting or rare post boxes! For example, Edward VIII wasn’t king for very long, so there are hardly any post boxes left from when he was King. This all stems from when I was in year 6 studying English. The teacher said that we could do a project on anything as long as there was a book on that topic and there was only one book on post boxes! I’ve just stayed interested in them ever since.

Can you tell us about your role here at Yozu and what Yozu does?

Yozu are a software company. We work on big and small projects for clients and we’re now starting to make our own products. I’ve worked on a few different things but I mostly work on Pandle, which is an accountancy platform. I’m a Ruby on Rails developer, so I mostly write code to make Pandle’s features work. I’ve been here since 2014 which means I’ve got a broader overview of the the codebase, so that can be useful for spotting issues or helping people who are stuck.

What’s the best thing about your job?

I like that there’s variety in pace, so there are days when you’re thinking hard about one big problem all day or days when you are squashing lots of bugs one after the other, and occasionally having to think fast when a server is down. There’s also variety in the work that I do, so I’ve learnt stuff about how servers work and statistics and a little bit about design. I really enjoy that there’s a broad range of things for me to get stuck into and that I’ve been able to work on a number of different projects over the years too.

What ignited your passion for technology?

I’d always enjoyed playing with computers, solving puzzles and cracking codes, but I hadn’t done any programming until I started my computing A-Level, which I really enjoyed. At that point I started to consider studying computer science at degree level, but I wasn’t sure it was for me, so I went to study maths instead. I later discovered that I wanted to do more programming. I did a summer internship where I learnt some Perl. After university, I moved to Liverpool and worked for a church for a year. I did some tech stuff there, including building them a new database. Then I applied for software jobs in Liverpool and have been at Yozu ever since.

Have you faced any challenges being a woman in tech?

Honestly I haven’t really. I think I’m really lucky to say that I walk into work in the morning and I just feel like one of the developers in a room of developers, rather than feeling like the only woman in a room full of men. I’m fortunate that I haven’t experienced anything other than this. But it’s important that we do what we can to change the status quo for women who haven’t had the same experience as me. It would be really sad for young women to be coming into tech roles and then abandoning them because of unhelpful office culture, or to be missing out on that opportunity entirely because of perceived stereotypes.

Who has inspired you/who is your role model?

I was lucky, as a teenager, that I knew women who were scientists, mathematicians and programmers so I wasn’t ever being told that this is something only men could do. They were role models to me in various different ways. I was struck by their consistent enthusiasm for their subjects and ongoing willingness to chat to me about the STEM things I was interested in. That helped show me that I didn’t need to worry about the fact that my ‘geek’ interests didn’t match lots of my female peers. At times when school or university were difficult it was encouraging to know (slightly!) older women who had got past that stage and continued to enjoy and succeed in STEM roles.

What advice would you give to women looking to break into the industry?

Don’t worry about societal rumours that women can’t do it. Don’t stress about that. If you enjoy it, just get on with doing it!

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