Dame Stephanie ‘Steve’ Shirley
British Information Technology Pioneer, Businesswoman & Philanthropist
About Dame Stephanie 'Steve'
Dame Stephanie (Steve) Shirley CH, age 86, is a workplace revolutionary and successful IT entrepreneur turned ardent philanthropist and best-selling author.
Her life story begins with her 1939 arrival in Britain as an unaccompanied Kindertransport refugee. In 1962, she started a software house, Freelance Programmers, that pioneered new work practices and changed the position of professional women, especially in hi-tech.
Since retiring in 1993, she has focused on philanthropy, based on her strong belief in giving back to society. In 2009/10 she served as the UK’s first ever national Ambassador for Philanthropy. Her charitable Shirley Foundation has initiated and funded a number of projects, totaling £67m to date, focusing on IT and her late son’s disorder of autism.
Dame Stephanie was named by Woman’s Hour as one of the 100 most powerful women in Britain. In 2014, the Science Council listed her as one of the Top 100 practising scientists in the UK. Her TED Talk in 2015 received a standing ovation from more than a thousand of the world’s most recognised technical entrepreneurs, thinkers and creators. In 2017, Dame Stephanie received a Companion of Honour, one of only 65 people worldwide to receive such a recognition.