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Stephanie Shirley

Stephanie (Steve) Shirley (b. 1933) was Vera Buchthal when she arrived in England via the Kindertransport at the age of 5 (with her older sister). The two girls lived with foster parents, continuing to do so when her birth parents came searching for her.

Vera Buchthal became Stephanie Brooke when she was 18 (and Stephanie Shirley when she got married in 1962)

Stephanie Shirley founded her own software development company in 1962, Freelance Programmers, in response to the widespread sexism in the computer industry and to provide opportunities for other women.

Because she received no responses to her letters when she signed off as ‘Stephanie Shirley’, she started signing herself as ‘Steve Shirley’ and things turned around.

By 1975, Steve Shirley was employing 297 women and 3 men.

Stephanie Shirley retired in 1993 and became a significant philanthropist. She has written 3 books too, the proceeds of which go to charity.

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