Ambitious Flat-Headed Women – Dame Stephanie Shirley
An Exceptional Woman! And an Exceptional TED Talk!
This is one of my very favourite TEDTalks of all time. Dame Stephanie Shirley is a delight. She entertains us with her astonishing story of breaking the British "glass ceiling" for women, before that term had even needed to be invented.
Her story is heart-felt and audacious. If you ever have any doubts about overcoming any difficulties or restrictions in the business world, just replay this video over and over until it is burned into your brain!
As a young woman, Dame Stephanie had no role models to emulate, not even any business models to copy. She only had her own goals and ambitions to liberate women and to develop her own all-female business in the unlikely and newest field of computer software! — And in the 1960s!
Apart from some regimes still not allowing women to drive cars today, the more privileged women in Western technological countries are still struggling for the top jobs AND equal pay, with only some measure of success in particular areas.
We think we have it tough now! The 1960s were just the seeds of the beginning of women being involved in businesses at high responsible levels. The War Years of the 1940s saw an advancement in women’s roles in all areas, especially manufacturing, while the Boys were fighting enemies in foreign countries.
But on the return of the soldiers, and all through the 1950s, women were put back in their place, apron-ed in the kitchen, domestically-bound, and kept busy making babies and apple pies. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with making babies and apple pies, but this change must have been a huge psychological shift for women, which I believe has never been adequately assessed.
Both men and women will enjoy this talk, and for many reasons. It warms my own heart to see a woman of Dame Stephanie’s age (this was filmed in 2015), still vital and alive—with an unmistakable twinkle in her eyes!—and, after all she has done, still making a difference. We can never retire from life. Retirement kills the spirit.
I am also reminded here of a story from my own childhood, when Stephanie recounts her rescue from Nazi occupation as a small child. My own life was saved by a stranger when I was just a curious little toddler, walking off a pier—I imagine, to see what was under the water. And, like Dame Stephanie, that story reminds me, and motivates me, to fulfill my obligation to make a difference in the world.
. . . May you always live your Exceptional Purpose!