Pushing the Boundaries
Dame Stephanie Shirley: Freelance Programmer
“We would always try to present ourselves as professionally as possible which included answering the phone at home with a tape playing a background track of typewriters so as to cover any noises of the baby in the background.”
Teaching Point: Why do you think that Shirley felt she had to leave such a key computer company in orderto progress her career?
“ What I learnt after a short time was that no matter what I tried to do I got blocked. So I set up a company that not only was entirely made up of women but also allowed them to work from home. We were laughed at by many at the time and for a range of reasons. ”
Teaching Point: Why did Stephanie feel the need to disguise her domestic setting so as to appear ‘professional’ to new clients interested in her computer programming skills?
“ Eventually we let men in to the company, but only if they were good enough! ”
Teaching Point: What change in the law designed to help women meant that Stephanie had to change her successful company?
Teaching Point: Why does Joanna think her gender was unimportant when working with Colossus?
“ It’s really rather nice to feel that I was a pioneer but I already felt like a pioneer being involved in such early programming of computers. ”
Teaching Point: Do you think Mary derives greater satisfaction from being the first female commercial computer programmer or being involved in early pioneering computing activity?