Anita Borg

Anita Borg, PhD, was an American computer scientist. Throughout her career, Dr. Borg became a pillar of strength for women in the field of computing and technology, founding several important communities and organizations that would change the lives of many women in the field, bringing them closer together to share their accomplishments, ideas, fears and successes as women working in and with technology.

Dr.Borg got her first programming job in 1969. Although she loved math while growing up, she did not originally intend to go into computer science and taught herself to program while working at a small insurance company. In 1981, she was awarded a PhD in Computer Science from New York University for research investigating the synchronization efficiency of operating systems.

In 1987, Anita Borg and 12 other women technologists cofounded the Systers community, an email list for women working in the “systems” field. Systers provided a new type of virtual community, one where tech women were free to discuss issues they experienced at work and share resources with one other. Decades later, Systers continues to offer a closed-network, safe community for women technologists. 

In 1994, Anita and Dr. Telle Whitney cofounded the Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC), which has grown to become the world’s largest annual gathering of women technologists. Inspired by the legacy of Navy Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper — and tired of attending conferences with almost no women — Anita and Telle created GHC to offer women the chance to improve their technical skills and connect with one other.

In 1997, Anita founded the nonprofit organization originally known as the Institute for Women and Technology (IWT), on the Xerox PARC campus. The aim of IWT was to increase the representation of women in technical fields, enable the creation of more technology by women, build the pipeline of technical women, and ensure that women’s voices played a role in shaping the future of technology.

In 1999, Borg was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She continued to lead the Institute for Women and Technology until 2002. She died on April 6, 2003, in Sonoma, California. 

Anita believed what research has now proven to be true: Organizations that actively include women benefit from increased innovation and better bottom line results. She proposed that that technology will solve more of the world’s problems when more women are involved in imagining and building it.

Entry courtesy of Corey Elowsky


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