08 March 2017
Celebrating fantastic role models on International Women's Day 2017
For International Women’s Day on 8 March 2017, we’re celebrating fantastic role models like Shirley Morgan and her achievements while living at a Hanover property in Berkshire.
Beating age and gender stereotypes, Shirley graduated in astrophysics in 2014, at the age of 79 – following a lifetime’s interest in science.
This was a second chance at academic life for Shirley, who was first accepted as a mature student by University College, London, in the late 1960s. Married with three children and working, she had gained the necessary A levels in maths, physics and chemistry through evening classes.
Shirley was later forced to drop out, after her family decided to relocate to Zambia. Instead, she took a job as an analyst at a copper mine. She would later take on IT and sales development roles, and run her own business selling home computers and acting as a consultant to small local businesses and golf clubs.
After retiring from her consultancy, Shirley spent time tracing her family roots and improving her golf. However, she returned to University College in 2009 and then spentthe next five years completing a degree in astrophysics.
Shirley says: ‘I’ve been interested in science as far back as I can remember. A prize book I received when I was 15 at grammar school, entitled The Starry Heavens, aroused my interest in astronomy and it has remained with me ever since.
‘Astrophysics is fascinating. It’s the physics of the universe and I particularly enjoyed learning about current developments in space research, including exoplanet discoveries, and studying the geology of the various planets.’
For Shirley, the secret to success as an older woman is to keep a healthy mind and body. Formerly a keen golfer, at 81 she is still an active member of the Ramblers Association.
To others considering study, she says: ‘Whatever the reason for starting a course, don’t give up, because the sense of personal achievement is beyond measure.’
The social media hashtag for this year's International Women's Day is #BeBoldForChange: find out more about how we can create a more inclusive world, by visiting the International Women's Day website and following the #BeBoldForChange hashtag on Twitter.