Growth stage

It's Always Reassuring To Know How To Knee A Man In The Groin

Dame Stephanie “Steve” Shirley CH DBE FREng FBCS is an entrepreneur turned ardent philanthropist. An IT tech pioneer, she started her first company Freelance Programmers in 1962 with a capital of just £6 and built it into a software development powerhouse.

Bretton Putter

Dame Stephanie “Steve” Shirley CH DBE FREng FBCS  is an entrepreneur turned ardent philanthropist. An IT tech pioneer, she started her first company Freelance Programmers in 1962 with a capital of just £6 and built it into a software development powerhouse. Her life story is one of perseverance and determination in the face of incredible adversity; from being whisked out of Germany on the  Kindertransport train in 1939 at the age of 5, to being a child refugee cared for by foster parents and the difficulties she faced working as a female engineer, to the challenges she experienced as a female CEO and as the mother to an autistic child. I took the title for this article from her book ‘Let IT Go: The Memoirs of Dame Stephanie Shirley’. Dame Stephanie has amassed many incredible achievements, often in spite of the roadblocks that were placed in front of her by the male-dominated society. In her book she writes about being a young woman in London in the 1950s when the ‘pea soup’ fog was so dense that it was unsafe for a woman to walk alone late at night, 'There was almost an assumption, in those days, that an unaccompanied woman who bumped into a man in such conditions would be raped". Dame Stephanie was one of those women who worked late and being a problem solver she dealt with this potential threat by taking self-defense classes, commenting in the book, ‘It’s always reassuring to know how to knee a man in the groin.’ This example epitomizes the adaptive, tough and determined spirit of Dame Stephanie Shirley.

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