Read our latest news stories
8th March 2017, 9:58am
Computing pioneer to launch equality centre and deliver free public talk
Computing pioneer to launch equality centre and deliver free public talk Pioneering businesswoman and philanthropist Dame Stephanie ‘Steve’ Shirley will deliver a free public talk at the University of Lincoln, UK, offering a fascinating insight into her life and career.

Dame Stephanie Shirley, one of Britain’s most celebrated entrepreneurs and philanthropists, will describe her remarkable journey from arriving in the UK as an unaccompanied child refugee in 1939 to building a ground-breaking all-woman software company, which was ultimately valued at $3 billion and made millionaires of 70 of her team members.

Her talk, entitled A Woman’s Story, will take place on Tuesday 21st March in the Stephen Langton Building on the University of Lincoln’s Brayford Pool Campus.

An early pioneer of computing, Dame Stephanie founded a software company in 1962 from her dining room table with just £6 and soon after adopted the name ‘Steve’ to aid her in the business world. She employed only women until the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act made it illegal to do so. She offered part-time and flexible employment to professional women with dependants, pioneered new work practices, and changed the position of professional women (especially in the hi-tech industry) along the way.

Dame Stephanie also ensured that a quarter of her FTSE 250 Company was put into the hands of her staff and when it was acquired she began distributing her wealth to charitable causes. She retired in 1993 to concentrate on philanthropic work and her Shirley Foundation is now one of the top 50 grant-giving foundations in the UK. It has made charitable grants of more than £67 million, with current activity targeted at national strategies for autism.

Dame Stephanie will visit the University of Lincoln, where she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science in September 2014, to deliver her talk and officially launch the University’s new Eleanor Glanville Centre.

Named after renowned 17th century entomologist Lady Eleanor Glanville, the new centre is designed to link the University’s equality mandates and initiatives, such as the Race Charter Mark and Athena SWAN Award (presented to universities for their commitment to tackling gender inequality in higher education), with new interdisciplinary research and scholarly activities.

The initiative is led by Professor Belinda Colston from the University of Lincoln’s School of Chemistry.

Professor Colston said: “We are proud to be launching our new equality centre – named after an extremely courageous scientist and researcher – here at the University of Lincoln. In the 17th century, the pursuit of natural history was not the socially acceptable, genteel occupation that it would later become and women who were perceived as having an ‘unhealthy’ relationship with the natural world were still accused of witchcraft. Eleanor Glanville continued her work despite this and is now highly regarded in the science world; some of the butterflies she observed and collected remain today as some of the earliest species showcased in the Natural History Museum.

“The University of Lincoln is committed to helping all staff and students maximise their potential and the Eleanor Glanville Centre will bring together a range of initiatives which champion opportunities for each individual to pursue their chosen education, research and career path. We are absolutely delighted that Dame Stephanie Shirley is able to join us for this special occasion. I can think of no one better to inspire our students, staff and community to remain compassionate, determined, and ambitious in the pursuit of their goals.”

The event to launch the Eleanor Glanville Centre on Tuesday 21st March 2017 will begin with an exhibition of work and a book club taster session in the afternoon.

Visitors who book to attend Dame Stephanie Shirley’s talk are invited to view the exhibition from 5pm. The talk will begin at 6:15pm and will be followed by a question and answer session and book signing. Dame Stephanie will personally sign copies of her acclaimed memoir, Let IT Go, which will be on sale for £10. The books are sold in aid of Dame Stephanie’s charity, Autistica, which funds and campaigns for research to understand the causes of autism, improve diagnosis, and develop evidence-based interventions.

The exhibition and talk are free-to-attend but places are limited and should be booked in advance via the University of Lincoln website. For more details, contact the University’s Events team on 01522 837100 or

Tweet this story Share on Facebook