Today on January 17, we celebrate the birthday of our founder, Dr. Anita Borg. Anita was a fearless visionary who dedicated herself to promoting women and diversity in the tech field. Read some fun facts about Anita and her incredible work below!
1) Systers Began in… a Bathroom?
Systers is the world’s largest email community of women in technical computing roles, with more than 8,500 members from more than 65 countries. But did you know that the idea for this online community began in a conference bathroom? Anita Borg had met a group of women in a bathroom at a technical conference, and they bemoaned the fact that there were very few women both at the conference and in computing in general. Anita wanted to “increase the number of women in computer science and make the environments in which women work more conducive to their continued participation in the field.” So, in 1987, she and 12 other women launched a small electronic mailing list for women in “systems.” Today, members of Systers and its many affinity groups can network, share advice, and collaborate in a safe and supportive environment. Learn how you can join Systers!
2) Just How Much has GHC Grown?
Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC), named after Navy Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, was co-founded in 1994 by Anita and her friend, Dr. Telle Whitney. Both women wanted an event where women technologists could come together, find support, and celebrate their achievements. The first GHC hosted around 500 attendees, and the Celebration just kept getting bigger and bigger each year. In 2019, we had a record number of attendees join us in Orlando, Florida — more than 25,000 people! We can’t wait to see how many join us for GHC 20! Learn more about GHC here.
3) Dance the Night Away!
Anita loved to dance, she did just that during the very first Grace Hopper Celebration. We’ve kept this tradition alive each year through our GHC Evening Celebration, inviting all attendees to join us on the dance floor and enjoy the party! With great music, plenty of food and drinks, and many fun activities, this is a night you won’t forget! Interested in sponsoring the GHC 20 Evening Celebration? Click here!
4) An Updated Name and Vision
In 1997, Anita founded an organization known as the Institute for Women and Technology. This nonprofit aimed at increasing the representation of women in technical fields, and working with organizations and individuals to address the gender gap. It was Anita’s hope that the technology industry would reach equity by the year 2020. After Anita’s death in 2003, the organization was renamed The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology. In 2017, we became AnitaB.org, and in 2019, we updated Anita’s vision, promising to work towards intersectional tech equity by 2025. Click here to learn what we are doing to reach this goal, and how you can help support us.
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