Dame Stephanie Shirley Lecture
Dame Stephanie Shirley CH: My life, autism, and why ambitious women have flat heads
“My motivation is to help improve the lives of others less fortunate than ourselves and to encourage those whom fortune has favoured to give generously and with a joyous heart.” Dame Stephanie Shirley.
Dame Stephanie describes herself as having been very lucky in her life. Her experience as an unaccompanied child refugee gave her the drive to prove that her life had been worth saving. Her early experience of the ‘glass ceiling’ at work encouraged her to set up her own business. In 1962 she started what became a phenomenally successful software company of women, for women; and has given away more than £68million to various projects.
Her wealth has enabled her to devote her ‘retirement’ to giving something back to society. She originated and supported strategic projects in the fields of autism (her son Giles was autistic) and IT, particularly making better use of IT in the voluntary sector. Nowadays, however, her focus is purely on autism.
In 2001, Dame Stephanie generously funded a University of Birmingham project to develop a web-based programme of study for practitioners and carers who care for, or work with, children and adults on the autism spectrum. The programme of study was launched in January 2002, and is still being delivered by staff at the Autism Centre for Education and Research (ACER). As a result, more than 1,200 parents and practitioners have received the qualification of University Certificate or Certificate of Higher Education over the years.
Many of these students report that the programme of study transformed their lives and enabled them to cascade their knowledge and experience to others. A significant number of these students have also gone on to complete higher level qualifications with ACER after completing these certificates. Notably, one of these autistic students who studied for the Certificate of Higher Education went on to complete a PhD with ACER.
Dame Stephanie will be selling signed copies of her book Let IT Go at the event, for a minimum donation of £10. All the proceeds will go to Dame Stephanie’s charity Autistica, the UK’s leading autism research charity.
To learn more about Dame Stephanie’s fascinating life click here to watch her 2015 TED Talk.
Venue: Elgar Concert Hall, The Bramall