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  1. ITV Report

Fighting for equality: Dame Stephanie Shirley

  • Watch the full report by Social Affairs Correspondent Christine Alsford below:

Friday marks International Women's Day and all this week ITV News Meridian is celebrating remarkable women from across our region, across different walks of life and across generations.

Our fourth and final report is about an entrepreneur from Henley-on-Thames who has spent much of her life fighting for equality.

Credit: ITV News Meridian

At the age of 85, Dame Stephanie Shirley is still working and has given away more than £60 million to good causes.

She came to England in 1939 as an unaccompanied child refugee.

That childhood trauma had an "enormous impact" on Dame Stephanie, making her realise she needed to make her life "a life that was worth saving".

Dame Stephanie came to England in 1939 as an unaccompanied child refugee

Dame Stephanie decided to set up her own company called Freelance Programmers.

The emphasis of the business was on flexibility.

The staff were given responsibility for choosing their own work times and work patterns.

One of the projects that the team worked on was the black box flight recorder for supersonic Concorde

The company did work for GCHQ and Polaris submarine.

One of the projects that the team worked on was the black box flight recorder for supersonic Concorde.

297
of the first 300 members of staff were women

Dame Stephanie describes the "overt sexism" that she experienced at the time.

Women were not allowed to work on the stock exchange, fly an aeroplane or drive a bus.

She describes being treated as "second-class citizens", which made her want to challenge some of the conventions.

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