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(EIE18) Let IT Go! Dame Stephanie Shirley Talks to DIGIT

Brian Baglow


EIE Dame Stephanie Shirley

The opening keynote at tomorrow’s EIE 2018 is the legendary Dame Stephanie ‘Steve’ Shirley. DIGIT was lucky enough to chat to Steve recently and ask her about some of the issues close to her heart…

Dame Stephanie ‘Steve’ Shirley OBE (or  CH DBE FREng FBCS if we’re being formal), is an entrepreneur, businesswoman, technology pioneer, philanthropist, author and something of a legend.

In 1962, she founded Freelance Programmer, a pioneering all-woman software company in the UK, which was ultimately valued at $3 billion, making millionaires of 70 of her team members.

Pushing the boundaries for gender equality, working practice, the IT industry, the role of the internet in society and research on autism disorders, Dame Shirley dedicates herself to the causes she believes in.


DIGIT: What are the most exciting trends you’re starting to see in technology today?

Dame Stephanie: Virtual reality – for entertainment, to treat phobias, for experience.

DIGIT: Why do you think we are we are still struggling with gender diversity and attracting young women into tech?

Dame Stephanie: Those with power are loathe to give it away. Macho culture shapes attitude and behaviour. A simple glance around shows men are significantly in the majority in the digital world. But employers can recruit women only from those who put themselves forward and have appropriate qualifications. The gender divide starts early: in school, in the home, colleges and universities.

DIGIT: What are you most looking forward to at EIE?

Dame Stephanie: The networking. I can read reports, watch TED lectures anytime and on my own. But interacting and exchanging ideas comes from attending conferences such as EIE.

DIGIT: What’s your favourite app/game/piece of software?

Dame Stephanie: You overestimate my involvement in today’s technology. I’m only a late adopter… using a simple robot to teach autistic children for example.

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EIE 18

EIE, Engage Invest Exploit, is Scotland’s premier technology investor showcase. It features the most innovative data-driven tech companies emerging from Scotland, the UK and beyond. Visitors to EIE can:

  • network with fellow investors and entrepreneurs
  • meet 60 pitching companies seeking investment
  • hear from industry thought leaders through our carefully selected keynotes
  • experience the vibrant tech scene and ecosystem that is putting Scotland on the map for technology innovation

EIE 18 takes place at Edinburgh University’s McEwan Hall on April 19th 2018. Registration has closed and only a very few standby tickets remain. Find out more on the EIE website.

Movers and shakers

Brian Baglow


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