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.

Share this article

Major funding for NOVA is provided by the NOVA Science Trust, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and PBS viewers.