Dr. Anita Borg (1949–2003) combined technical expertise and fearless vision to inspire, motivate, and move women to embrace technology. Her dedication to creating change helped women see themselves as active participants in the realm technology.
Born Anita Borg Naffz on January 17, 1949, in Chicago, Illinois, she grew up in Palatine, Illinois; Kaneohe, Hawaii; and Mukilteo, Washington. She found her way to a computer keyboard in her mid-20s, and received her Ph.D. in computer science from the Courant Institute at New York University.
In 1987, Anita founded Systers, an online community, with 12 fellow women technologists. She wanted Systers to provide a space for women to discuss about issues they experienced at work and share resources with each other. To this day, Systers offers a closed-network, safe community for women technologists.
In 1994, Anita co-founded the Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) with Dr. Telle Whitney, former President and CEO of AnitaB.org. Inspired by the legacy of Navy Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper — and tired of attending conferences with almost no other women — Anita and Telle created GHC to offer women the chance to improve their technical skills and connect with each other.
Anita then went on to found the Institute for Women and Technology, which encompassed Systers and the Grace Hopper Celebration, and introduced new programs to work with organizations and individuals to address the gender gap. After Anita’s death in 2003, the organization was renamed The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology. In 2017, we became AnitaB.org.
Anita received many honors for her important work in technology and advancing women in the 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. She was a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery and a member of the Board of Directors of the Computing Research Association. In 1998–99, 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.
Anita’s other awards include:
- 2002 Eighth Annual Heinz Award for Technology, Economy, and Employment
- 2002 Honorary doctorate in science and technology, Carnegie Mellon University
- 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 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