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Local philanthropist causes feminist stir
Published 21/07/14



HENLEY philanthropist Dame Stephanie Shirley has claimed women have it “dead easy” in the workplace today.

The retired businesswoman said this generation of working women was “lucky” compared with those before them.

Speaking at a Telegraph literary festival in Devon, she said: “Today’s young women, I don’t know what they’re complaining about. You have got it lucky. Relatively speaking, you’ve got it dead easy.”

Dame Stephanie, 80, founded a computer software company in 1962 and has been hailed for her work to improve the rights of female employees.

She prefers to be known as Steve after receiving a better response in business letters and emails when signing off with a man’s name. After retiring at 60 to devote her time to philanthropy, she has given away more than £67 million of her personal wealth, much of which funds research into autism. Her late son Giles was autistic.


Speaking about her memoir, Let IT Go, at the festival in Dartington, she said sexist behaviour was “pretty bad in my day” with men regularly “pinching my bottom”.

On today’s work culture, she said: “There’s nothing holding women back. The law is pure. There’s very little in this country that is legally overtly discriminatory. It’s all cultural issues that you cannot legislate against.

“We as women and individuals have to learn to work within that culture and perhaps to change that culture.”

Published 21/07/14

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