Dame Stephanie (Steve) Shirley
Philanthropist & Entrepreneur
Dame Stephanie Shirley CH is a workplace revolutionary and successful IT entrepreneur turned ardent philanthropist. In 1962, she founded an all-woman software company that pioneered remote working and co-ownership,upending the expectations of the time. It was ultimately valued at $3 billion and made 70 of her staff millionaires. Since ‘retiring’, her focus has been on Philanthropy, especially IT and autism – co-funding the Oxford Internet Institute and The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, and setting up (and taking to sustainability) three charities and some 70 autism projects – her late son’s condition. She was appointed a
Companion of Honour in 2017 – one of only 65 worldwide. Her 2015 TED Talk was to a standing ovation from the world’s most recognised entrepreneurs, thinkers, creators and doers: it’s had over two million views.
Dame Stephanie’s memoir, Let It Go, is being made into a film produced by BAFTA-winning Damian Jones. So To Speak, an anthology of 30 of her speeches from over 40 years, was published in November 2020. English mathematician Ada Lovelace, the daughter of poet Lord Byron, has been called “the first computer programmer” for writing an algorithm for a computing machine in the mid-1800s. Ada had an unusual upbringing for an aristocratic girl in the mid-1800s. At her mother’s insistence, tutors taught her mathematics and science. Such challenging subjects were not standard fare for women at the time, but her mother believed that engaging in rigorous studies would prevent Ada from developing her father’s moody and unpredictable temperament.