‘Women are still badly underrepresented in science’ according to one of the UK's first software developers

Posted by ap507 at Oct 25, 2013 12:45 PM |
Guest speaker at fourth annual Women of Influence luncheon discusses challenges females still face today
‘Women are still badly underrepresented in science’ according to one of the UK's first software developers

From left to right: Dr Turi King, Lecturer in Genetics and Archaeology, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Christine Fyfe and Dame Stephanie Shirley, Keynote Speaker

In 2012, only 13% of the UK’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce were female, a shocking statistic considering the ‘power shift’ social networking is enabling according to honorary graduate Dame Stephanie Shirley.

Guest speaker at the University’s fourth annual Women of Influence luncheon, Dame Stephanie – who changed her name to Steve to be taken seriously as a businesswoman and software developer – suggests the 21st century will be a good century for women and equal opportunities as they embrace new technologies and social media.

Arriving in England as a child refugee on the Kindertransport aged five years old, Dame Shirley was determined to make sure her life was worth saving. “My generation of women fought battles,” she remembered. “I had to fight to be taught maths in the boys’ school; girls in my generation were not taught science and even today women are still badly underrepresented in science.”

Dame Stephanie described the challenges she faced as a female technology entrepreneur during the keynote speech at the award-winning luncheon. Hosted by Pro-Vice-Chancellor Christine Fyfe on Thursday 17 October 2013, the popular event brought together more than 60 of the University’s most influential female graduates and launched the University’s Women of Influence Guild. In its inaugural year, the fund will support scholarships and research projects led by females at the University in the STEM subjects, the University’s future women of influence.

Philanthropist Dame Stephanie, who has just published her memoir, Let It Go, where she describes her life as a ‘feminist in deed if not in word’, donated the proceeds from the book sales during the event in support of the fund.

She explained: “I have done more than I ever believed was possible and have exchanged ideas with some of the most brilliant minds. I built a global business empire that empowered women and have given away more than £67 million to causes I really believe in. We often waste too much time being afraid, when in fact what we should fear is wasting time.  I’m so proud of my honorary degree from the University of Leicester and hope that my support can help it to continue to develop.”

Play this podcast to listen to Dame Stephanie's speech in full:

  • To find out more or to support the Women of Influence Guild, please contact Lisa Davies, Development Manager via ld109@le.ac.uk

Share this page: