5 things we can learn from Stephanie Shirley about creativity

Creativity knows no bounds, and Stephanie “Steve” Shirley exemplifies this truth through her groundbreaking journey in the world of technology. As an entrepreneur and philanthropist, she broke barriers, redefined workplace norms and championed innovation.

Here are invaluable lessons we can learn from Stephanie Shirley’s remarkable story.

Embrace the unconventional

Shirley, in her pursuit of innovation, defied societal norms. Founding her software company in the 1960s as a woman in a male-dominated industry was a bold departure from convention. She called herself Steve to be heard.

Her fearlessness in challenging the status quo teaches us the importance of embracing unconventional paths to unleash creativity.

Strength through diversity

At her company, Shirley revolutionized the workplace by primarily hiring women. She recognized the untapped potential of female programmers and created opportunities for them in a field where they were severely underrepresented.

Her commitment to diversity and inclusion reinforces the idea that diverse perspectives foster innovation.

Solve real problems

Shirley’s focus wasn’t just on coding; it was about solving real problems. Her company developed software that handled critical problems, such as programming the black box flight recorder for the supersonic Concorde jet.

This reminds us that effective creativity often stems from addressing genuine needs and challenges.

Balance business and social good

While building a successful business, Shirley never lost sight of social responsibility. She pioneered flexible working hours, childcare allowances and profit-sharing schemes long before they became commonplace.

Her approach shows that a company can thrive while prioritizing the welfare of employees and society.

Endurance and resilience

Shirley faced many rejections and obstacles in her entrepreneurial journey. But her perseverance and resilience pushed her forward. Her story teaches us that adversity is inevitable, but it does not define us; it is the persistence in the face of adversity that leads to breakthrough innovation.


Stephanie “Steve” Shirley’s groundbreaking journey can serve as a beacon for aspiring creators and entrepreneurs.

Her courage to challenge norms, champion diversity and take social responsibility embodies the essence of true creativity. By embracing these principles, we can navigate uncharted territory and leave an indelible mark on our creative pursuits and outcomes.