Let IT Go

Dame Stephanie Shirley

Published by

Andrews UK Ltd

ISBN

9781782348313

RRP

£8.99

Reviewed by

A P Sutcliffe, PG Dip, MBCS

Score

10 out of 10

Dame Stephanie Shirley is a charismatic character; a past-President and a fellow of BCS, she started and ran a software programming business that counted some of the largest organisations in Britain amongst its client list.

This company offered its workforce a more flexible approach to working practices at a time when this was almost unheard of; and allowed many women with small children the opportunity to work in a way that most other companies of the time would simply not tolerate.

This book is her autobiography. It details her arrival as a small child in pre-war Britain as a refugee from Nazi oppression; with no parents and unable to speak the language. It covers her struggle to overcome the almost constant prejudice against her gender within her chosen profession, which at the time was as male-dominated as it is now.

It is, at times, brutally frank as it discusses how she dealt with financial issues, her son’s autism, broken relationships within her family, depression and eventually, a nervous breakdown. Despite all of these problems, her business grew to become a major player in the emerging IT world.

It is a superb read about a leading figure in the early UK IT industry, seen from her own unique point of view. There is a clear vision of her passion for her work and her pride at her achievements; most especially for the role she played in providing so many people the opportunity to earn a living that would otherwise have found most doors firmly closed in their faces.

Now retired, she puts her considerable energies to work in many other areas, most notable her philanthropic endeavours, which clearly mean a great deal to her.

This would be a great book to read for anyone that is currently working within IT. It contains many references to the development of the nascent industry before the PC revolution of the 1980s and gives a clear picture of the time. Sadly, it shows that bias and discrimination are not new issues and perhaps that not enough has changed in the last 50 years.

It could also provide young women with a role model to encourage them to set their sights higher and understand that with the right attitude and hard work, they can achieve whatever they wish.

I found it to be a very well written book; I simply couldn’t put it down and wanted to read it straight through from cover to cover. It is an inspirational read, showing that people can succeed in even the most trying circumstances.

I have to give it maximum marks, for being a thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening read.

Further information: Andrews UK Ltd

The book has its own website.

October 2013