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Stephanie Shirley says there have been improvements in flexible work schedules since she implemented the practice in the '60s. (Courtesy of Dame Stephanie Shirley)

Breaking Into The Business World With 'Woman-Friendly' Model

by NPR Staff
Jun 23, 2013 (Weekend Edition Sunday)

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Each week, Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin brings listeners an unexpected side of the news by talking with someone personally affected by the stories making headlines.

Entrepreneur Dame Stephanie Shirley started a software company in 1962. FI Group, now known as Xansa, was "a company of women, a company for women," Shirley says. She wanted to create a new business model, encouraging women to work in the tech industry — with flexible schedules.

She ran into a number of issues as she hit the glass ceiling. Among them, her letters to prospective business partners went unanswered — until she started going by a family nickname, "Steve." Shirley discusses her personal struggles balancing family and work and the role society has in mitigating those challenges.

"People were always astonished that I could drive and manage in a situation where I had two things — business and family — that most people would consider all-consuming as one," she tells Rachel Martin, host of Weekend Edition Sunday.

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