The award was given in recognition of her services to IT, to instigating remarkable progress for married women in the workplace, and for her tireless philanthropic endeavours.
Dame Stephanie Shirley and Professor José Fiadeiro
Dame Stephanie arrived in England as an unaccompanied Kindertransport child refugee from her home in Vienna at the outbreak of World War Two; she went on to found an early software company that was eventually valued at £3bn.
She started the company with just £6 as a crusade to encourage more women to pursue careers in computer science. Her female-friendly company paved the way for new thinking, with its flexibility, holistic approach to human resources and co-ownership.
As well as being a pioneering female entrepreneur in the field of software development, Dame Stephanie is also one of the country’s leading philanthropists through her charitable foundation, The Shirley Foundation. Her main focus is on autism; her late son Giles suffered from the condition, and she has addressed the United Nations on the issue.
Dame Stephanie was the first female President of the British Computer Society, and her memoire, Let IT Go, is currently being made into a film.
Dame Stephanie said: “It is wonderful to be honoured by Royal Holloway, historically a positive agent for women and at the sharp end of higher education.”