An IT pioneer, exceptional businesswoman and ardent philanthropist.
Born in Germany, Dame Stephanie came to the UK as an unaccompanied child refugee in 1939. After encountering the glass ceiling during her early career as a computer programmer, in 1962 she set up a successful IT business, Freelance Programmers (now part of Sopra Steria Group), with a capital of just £6. She employed part-time working mothers and adopted the name ‘Steve’ to help her in the male-dominated industry. She employed only women (with the exception of three men) until the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act made it illegal to do so. Her team's projects included programming Concorde's black box flight recorder.
‘Steve’ empowered a generation of women in technology, giving them unheard of freedom to choose their own hours and manage their own workloads. The business thrived and Dame Stephanie gradually transferred ownership to her staff, creating 70 millionaires in the process.
Dame Stephanie retired in 1993 to concentrate on philanthropic work, and since then she has given away at least £65 million of the estimated £150 million wealth she built after selling her IT firm. In her 2012 memoirs Let It Go, she writes "I do it because of my personal history; I need to justify the fact that my life was saved". She continues to give to a range of causes including autism research, a cause she was drawn to through her late son Giles who had autism.
She co-founded the Oxford Internet Institute and was President of the British Computer Society.
BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour named Dame Stephanie as one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK.
“A richer life to me means the ability to help others less fortunate”
To see Dame Stephanie’s kitchen table video, visit @foraricherlife.