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Dr. Anita Borg's Profile

Nov 22

Tech Women

Dr. Anita Borg, an American computer scientist, founded the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing and the Institute for Women and Technology, which is now known as the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology. Kaneohe, Hawaii, Palatine, Illinois, and Mukilteo, Washington, were the places where Anita Borg was reared. She was raised in Mukilteo, Washington, Kaneohe, Hawaii, and Palatine, Illinois. She was created in Illinois's Chicago.

In 1969, she landed her first job as a programmer. She was always good at arithmetic but didn't want to pursue computer science so she learnt to program while working at a small insurance firm. In 1981, she earned a computer science degree from New York University. Her dissertation examined how well operating system synchronization works. She worked for four years at Auragen Systems Corp. in New Jersey after getting her doctorate, and then four years at Nixdorf Computer in Germany, where she developed a fault-tolerant Unix-based operating system.

Anita spent 12 years at the Digital Equipment Corporation's Western Research Laboratory after starting there in 1986. She created and received a patent for a method for getting entire address traces while employed at Digital Equipment, which she used to study and create high-speed memory systems. Her participation in the founding of the Systers mailing list in 1987 and its continuous growth served as inspiration for her work in email communication. At the Network Systems Laboratory, where she was a consultant engineer, she created MECCA, an email and Web-based system for communicating in virtual communities. She left Digital Equipment Corporation in 1997 to work as a researcher at Xerox PARC's Office of the Chief Technology Officer.

Dr. Anita Borg established the Institute for Women and Technology shortly after launching the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in 1994 and joined Xerox. She was certain that there need to be more women employed in technical fields. By 2020, she wanted to see 50% of computer jobs held by women. She wished that women would be equally represented in technological professions and would be capable of influencing and gaining from technology.


Dr. Borg developed and ran Systers, the first email network for women in technology, from 1987 until 2000. She was surprised by the dearth of female attendees at the Symposium on Operating Systems Principles (SOSP). Anita and a group of six to seven other women met in the restroom to discuss how few women worked in the computer industry. The idea for Systers was born when twelve conference attendees decided to have lunch together.

Systers was established to provide its members a private space where they could seek guidance and get comments based on shared experiences. Only technical topics were discussed, and women with considerable technical expertise were not allowed to join Systers. Occasionally, Systers would address non-technical concerns that its members had. When Mattel began selling Barbie in 1992, the Systers list helped the firm have the words "math class is challenging" taken off of the doll's microchip.

Anita Borg and Telle Whitney founded the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in 1994. She and Whitney met over dinner with the straightforward concept of putting on a conference by and for women computer scientists. They had no clue how to start a conference and had just a blank piece of paper. They began to set out their vision. In June 1994, Washington, D.C., hosted the first Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, which brought together 500 technical women. She established the Institute for Women and Technology in 1997. The organization was founded with the twin goals of expanding the representation of women in technical disciplines and encouraging women to produce more technology. Even though it was a distinct nonprofit organization, the Institute was initially housed inside Xerox PARC.

The Institute was founded as an experimental R&D organization with the goal of enhancing both the worldwide impact of technology on women and the impact of women on technology. In order to advance the role of technology, provide a pipeline for technical women, and ensure that women's viewpoints were taken into consideration in technological advancements, it launched a number of programs. After Telle Whitney was chosen as President and CEO in 2002, the Institute was renamed the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology in 2003. The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology has more than quadrupled in size since it was founded, expanding both nationally and globally. President Bill Clinton nominated her to the Presidential Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering, and Technology in 1999 after she had received acclaim for both her contributions as a computer scientist and her activism on behalf of women in computing. She was given the responsibility of advising the nation on how to expand the opportunities for women to engage.

Woman on computer

A Tribute To Anita Borg

In 1995, the Association for Women in Computers presented her with the Augusta Ada Lovelace Award in honor of her contributions to the field of computers on behalf of women. She was given the title of Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery in 1996. She was honored by the American Girl Scouts, given the Pioneer Award by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and included among the Top 100 Women in Computing by Open Computing Magazine. The seventh Heinz Award for Technology, Economy, and Employment was granted to her in 2002. In 2002, Carnegie Mellon University conferred an honorary Doctor of Science and Technology degree upon her. She also served on the boards of the Computing Research Association and the Committee on Women in Science and Engineering of the National Research Council. Anita was told she had a brain tumor in 1999. From 1998 to 2002, she directed the Institute for Women and Technology.

Dr. Anita Borg died away in Sonoma, California, on April 6, 2003. Three awards—the Anita Borg Social Impact Award, the Anita Borg Technical Leadership Award, and the Anita Borg Top Company for Technical Women—were established in her honor when the Institute for Women and Technology was renamed in her honor. Other efforts and prizes have been made to honor her life and accomplishments. Google created the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship in 2004 to recognize Anita Borg's contributions. Women from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East are now represented in the program. The Anita Borg Reward is a prize given in her honor by the UNSW School of Computer Science and Engineering.