SmartPA’s Woman of the Month: Stephanie ‘Steve’ Shirley

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SmartPA are the leading providers of outsourced administrative, secretarial and PA support to businesses around the world.
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SmartPA

  Opportunities:
In the UK
  Business Type:
Franchise
  Minimum Investment:
£15,000
  Training Provided:
Yes
  Home-based:
Yes
  Part time:
Yes

There has been a recent upsurge in news stories, films and social media activity surrounding women’s equality. With the Suffrage movement taking place over 100 years ago, women may now have the vote but there is still great inequality in the workplace. Statistics released by The Fawcett Society showed that a staggering 88% of those in better-paid jobs in industries such as science, engineering and technology are men.

Stephanie Shirley

However, there is an undercurrent of feeling that we may be in the dawn of a new zeitgeist. Hashtags such as “#womenintech” and “DoILookLikeAnEngineer?” are now trending. Groups such as GeekGirl Meetup aim to highlight female roles in the technology sector. They create an environment where women can be inspired, network, mentor and share ideas.

SmartPA have been exploring the roles of women as female leaders in the business sector, who have empowered and inspired. SmartPA’s Woman of the Month is Stephanie ‘Steve’ Shirley.

Shirley has attributed her success to being a child refugee, which she says gave her the drive to “prove that [her] life was worth saving”. It was the inequality that she experienced in the workplace that inspired her to set up her own business. She found it advantageous to go by the name of ‘Steve’ in a male-dominated sector.

After founding the software company, F.I. Group Litmited (now part of the Sopra Steria Group), Shirley kept a women-only workforce until the 1975 Sexual Discrimination Act made it illegal. This allowed women to advance in the technology sector and expand their knowledge and experience. She was also a leader in offering women with dependents in professional careers part-time work. Through this, she pioneered new management techniques.

Since retiring, Shirley has become well-known for her philanthropic activities. She has given a large amount of her retirement fund to supporting women in technology.

Stephanie ‘Steve’ Shirley has been the inspiration to many women in the workplace. She has faced adversity as a child and in her career in a male-dominated sector. She has shown that it is possible to offer women a professional career as well as the time that they need in their personal life: something that cannot be escaped, but better managed.

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