Dame Stephanie Shirley CH DBE FREng

BCS President 1989/90
Presidential theme: CPD of digital skills

Dame Stephanie todayThis President is a museum piece - in the National Museum of Computing as a late pioneer of computing (late as opposed to early).

Listed by the Science Council as one of the top 100 practising scientists in the UK, she recently became one of the first group of three people in Computer Weekly’s Hall of IT Fame. That fame rests on founding an early software house Freelance Programmers back in 1962 when software was given away free with the hardware. It was a company of women, a company for women, an early social business. A feminist in deed tho’ not in word, she used the family nickname of Steve to help in the business development of her pro-female software house.

From IT entrepreneur, “Steve” turned ardent philanthropist and she started to give away her small fortune, partly by sharing ownership with the staff and partly by strategic philanthropy. She sponsored the IT livery company, number 100 (nicely sounding binary) in the City’s pecking order. And the Oxford Internet Institute, which researches not the technology but rather the social economic, legal and ethical issues of the internet.

As the first female President of the BCS, her themes were the continued professional development of digital skills and to nudge the society into marketing mode.

Her memoir ‘Let IT Go’ (note the pun) went into its third edition in 2015. Her TED talk, speaking of her life (she was an unaccompanied child refugee in 1939), has been viewed by over a million people.

Website: www.steveshirley.com