Dame Stephanie ‘Steve’ Shirley
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The Friary, Lichfield; Birkbeck College, London
Dame Stephanie “Steve” Shirley is a philanthropist. She arrived in Britain as a five-year-old on the Kinderstransport in 1939. In 1962, she founded a software company, F. I. Group PLC. Early in her career she found it advantageous to go by the name “Steve” in a male-dominated business world and she employed only women until the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act made it illegal to do so.
"People remember entrepreneurs because of our successes but... it depends far more on how we deal with failures."Steve Shirley
She retired in 1993 to concentrate on philanthropic work, since then she has given away at least £65 million of the estimated £150 million wealth she built after selling her IT firm. She continues to give to a range of causes including autism research, a cause she was drawn to through her late son Giles who had autism.