WACL Speaker Dinner – Dame Stephanie ‘Steve’ Shirley
Dear Ladies of WACL
Please find below the booking form to be returned to firstname.lastname@example.org for the next speaker dinner on 23rd January 18 at the Savoy in the “Booking Forms” Section. Please note you need to logged in.
Dame Stephanie ‘Steve’ Shirley. Octogenarian. Information technology pioneer. Businesswoman. Philanthropist. Kindertransport child refugee in 1939.
The phrase ‘the incredible ….’ is often bandied around to describe someone who, whilst notable, hasn’t really achieved very much. This is not the case with Dame Stephanie. She truly is the very definition of an incredible woman.
Arriving in England at the tender age of five as a refugee fleeing the Nazi regime, with only her nine-year-old sister for company, Dame Stephanie went on to become one of the most outstanding female tech entrepreneurs of this century. Starting in the 1950’s building computers from scratch and writing machine code for the Post Office Research Station, she quickly experienced the ‘glass ceiling’ in her career and decided to set up her own software company, with the aim of creating job opportunities for professional women with children. She adopted the name ‘Steve’ to help her in a male-dominated business world, and her team’s projects included programming Concorde’s black box flight recorder.
Dame Stephanie employed predominantly women, with only 3 male programmers amongst her first 300 employees, until the Sex Discrimination Act made the practice illegal in 1975.
Her hugely successful software business made her rich and she donated most of her wealth from the sale and flotation of her company to charity, supporting educational and tech ‘not for profit’ organisations and charities for those with autism and their families.
When asked why she had given away more than £67 million of her personal wealth to different projects, she said, “I do it because of my personal history; I need to justify the fact that my life was saved”.
In May this year, I watched as the 400 delegates at Gather rose to their feet to give Dame Stephanie a standing ovation after she had spoken to them.
She’s inspiring. She’s extraordinary. She’s 84 years of age. She’s very special indeed.
Please join us with your guests to enjoy hearing Dame Stephanie speak to us about her life, her work, and all that she has learned along the way.
I hope you will bear with a little experiment for this dinner; rather than our usual Black Tie for the Savoy, the dress code for this dinner (and for another later on in the season) will be Business Dress.