Dame Stephanie Shirley CH

Entrepreneur & Philanthropist

Dame Stephanie Shirley

Dame Stephanie Shirley CH describes herself as a workplace revolutionary and successful entrepreneur turned ardent philanthropist. In 1962, she confronted gender bias in the British high-tech industry by starting an all-woman software house, pioneering flexible working conditions, profit-sharing, and other innovative practices. Over the next 25 years, she grew her company, Xansa, into a global enterprise valued in the billions. Since retiring in 1993, she has given away most of her wealth through the Shirley Foundation, which primarily funds autism research and the training of children on the autism spectrum for IT careers. Still closely involved in a variety of high-tech endeavors, she was recently named one of the 100 most influential women in UK IT by Computer Weekly and as one of Britain’s top 100 practicing scientists by the Science Council. In her fascinating memoir, Let IT Go, Dame Shirley explains how her experience as a child refugee shaped her drive to succeed and need to give back to society.