1949 – 2003
Anita Borg believed that technology affects all aspects of our economic, political, social and personal lives. A technology rebel with a cause, she fought tirelessly to ensure that technology’s impact would be a positive one. As a woman she fought to include, inspire and empower women as technology creators and leaders. Anita saw women as the ones best able to increase the positive impact of technology for the world. It was this vision that inspired Anita in 1997 to found the Institute for Women and Technology. Today this organization continues her legacy and bears her name, The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology.
Anita Borg’s unique capacity to mix technical expertise and fearless vision inspired, motivated and moved women to embrace their role in shaping technology. She touched and changed the lives of countless women in the computing fields and beyond. She is responsible for including women in the technological revolution — not as bystanders, but as active participants and leaders.
In 1987, as an operating systems researcher, Anita began an email online women’s technical community called
Systers(Systems + Sisters) which today has more than 3,000 members from all over the world. In 1994, Anita co-founded the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference, inspired by the legacy of Navy Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper. The Grace Hopper Celebration has grown to become the largest gathering of women in computing in the world.
In 1997 she founded the Institute for Women and Technology, which encompassed her earlier endeavors and began new programs, partnerships, and initiatives to include women in all aspects of technology. The Institute became the umbrella organization for both Systers and the Grace Hopper Conference as well as the Virtual Development Center, TechLeaders and a host of other dynamic partnerships and collaborations that embrace Anita’s ongoing vision.
Born Anita Borg Naffz on January 17, 1949 in Chicago, Illinois, she grew up in Palatine, Illinois; Kaneohe, Hawaii; and Mukilteo, Washington. Anita found her way to a computer keyboard in her mid-20s. In 1981, she received a Ph.D. in computer science from the Courant Institute at New York University and embarked on a brilliant research career for some of the industry’s commercial giants.
Anita received her doctorate for work on operating systems synchronization efficiency. She spent four years building a fault tolerant Unix-based operating system, first for Auragen Systems Corp of New Jersey and then with Nixdorf Computer in Germany. In 1986, she joined Digital Equipment Corporation’s Western Research Laboratory, where she developed and patented a method for generating complete address traces for analyzing and designing high-speed memory systems. Her experience running the ever-expanding Systers mailing list shifted her research interests toward virtual web-based communities, and instigated her move to Digital’s Network Systems Laboratory. There, she developed MECCA, an email and Web-based system for communicating in virtual communities.
Dr. Borg was a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and a member of the board of directors of the Computing Research Association (CRA). She served as a member of the National Research Council’s Committee on Women in Science and Engineering and the Committees on Women of both CRA and ACM. She served on the Presidential Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering and Technology. In 1995, Dr. Borg received one of three Pioneer Awards from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Augusta Ada Lovelace Award from the Association for Women in Computing for her work on behalf of women in the computing field.
In 1999, President Clinton appointed Anita to the Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering, and Technology. In 2002 she received the Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment. From 1998-1999, she served as a member of the National Academy of Engineering’s Committee for the Celebration of Women in Engineering which created the Summit on Women in Engineering in May 1999. She served on the National Research Council’s Committee on Women in Science and Engineering
Her spirit lives on through the many women she inspired, and then inspire others.
Anita’s work and vision were recognized by many organizations. She was honored with a variety awards including:
- 2002 Eighth Annual Heinz Award for Technology, Economy and Employment
- 2002 Honorary doctor’s degree in science and technology, Carnegie-Mellon
- 2002 National Organization for Women, Excellence in Education Award
- 2001 Professional Business Women of California 2001 Breakthrough Award
- 2001 SF Business Times, 75 Most Influential Women in the San Francisco Bay Area
- 2001 Computing Research Association, A. Nico Haberman Award
- 2000 Girl Scouts of America, Juliet Gordon Low Award
- 1999 ACM’s Distinguished Service Award
- 1999 Forbes Executive Women’s Summit Award for Outstanding Achievement
- 1999 Melitta Bentz Woman of Innovation Award
- 1999 Named one of the “Smart 50 People”, Sm@rt Reseller
- 1999 Named one of the “Top 25 Women on the Web”
- 1998 Women in Technology International Hall of Fame
- 1996 Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery
- 1995 Pioneer Award, Electronic Frontier Foundation
- 1995 Augusta Ada Lovelace Award, Association of Women in Computing
- 1994 “Top 100 Women in Information Sciences”, Open Computing Magazine
- 1994 World of Today and Tomorrow Award, Girl Scouts of Santa Clara County