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Dame Stephanie Shirley

The Secret Life of Scientists and EngineersThe Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers

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“I want to make sure that the life that was saved was worth saving.”


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Before Dame Stephanie, no one developed and sold computer software separately from the hardware. And that was just one of her many breakthroughs. Hmm, Bill Gates might owe her a dollar or two.


Dame Stephanie and her sister were sent by their parents on the Kindertransport from Austria to the U.K. just before the Holocaust. As one of the Jewish children who survived Hitler, she still feels the need to do something useful everyday to justify her good fortune.

Our Women’s Company

Dame Stephanie Shirley breaks through about a million glass ceilings with her digital innovations and her all-female company.

Great Dame

Dame Stephanie Shirley hobnobs with the Queen, but still insists that you call her "Steve."


After the rise of Hitler, Dame Stephanie Shirley is one of 10,000 Jewish children sent from Germany and Austria to live safe new lives in the U.K.


About Dame Stephanie Shirley

In 1962, Dame Stephanie Shirley founded Freelance Programmers, a software firm with innovative products and all female employees. She created so many revolutions that Queen Elizabeth was left with no choice but to make her a “Dame” (Britain’s female equivalent of a knight). In her so-called “retirement,” Dame Stephanie has become one of the world’s leading philanthropists, with a special emphasis on autism research.

Original funding for "The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers" was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.