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Anita Borg Life Story

Anita Borg led a life as a trailblazer. Unfortunately, she died in 2003 of brain cancer. However, her legacy is continued today through the various foundations she pioneered for other women and she serves as an inspiration for many.

Born in January 1949, Anita Borg’s advocacy for women advancement in technology led her to found the Institute for Women and Technology (founded in 1997, later renamed Anita Borg Institute in 2003 after her death) and the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (founded in 1994, named after Navy Admiral Grace Murray Hopper) with Dr. Telle Whitney, former President and CEO of

After her graduation in 1981 from the New York University where she was awarded a Ph.D. in Computer Science for her research thesis on the Synchronization Efficiency of Operating Systems, Anita Borg went on to work for a number of computer companies the longest being with Digital Equipment Corporation (1986 - 1997), more and more she realized the lack of women in the tech field and in 1987 she established ‘Systers’ (a combination Systems and Sisters), a worldwide electronic community of women in computer science, after being overwhelmed by the few numbers of women in attendance at the Symposium on Operating Systems Principles which she was present at.

The first of its kind, Systers aims to increase the number of women in the field and serve as a channel where they can connect with each other.

The growth of what started as a mailing list into a couple of thousand members from 50 different countries prompted Anita Borg to create MECCA (Message-Enabled Communication and Information System) an email system where subscribers could opt-in and out of discussion topics.

Through Systers, Anita Borg established the Pass-It-On Awards program which serves as a scholarship providing financial support to women with an interest in the technology field through donations made by other women in the field.

She has been a recipient of several awards that honor her efforts, some of which include being appointed to the Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering, and Technology by then-President Bill Clinton in 1999, Forbes Executive Women’s Summit Award for Outstanding Achievement (1999), the Heinz Award for Technology, Economy and Employment (2002), Honorary doctorate in science and technology by the Carnegie Mellon University (2002), National Organization for Women, Excellence in Education Award (2002), Computing Research Association, A. Nico Haberman Award (2001), Melitta Bentz Woman of Innovation Award (1999), Named one of the Top 25 Women on the Web (1999), Top 100 Women in Information Sciences, Open Computing Magazine (1994) and the Augusta Ada Lovelace Award from the Association of Women in Computing.

In 1998 she was subsequently inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame.

Her influence in the computer technology field prompted many awards and scholarships (Google and the University of New South Wales School of Computer Science and Engineering) to be named after her as well, including the Anita Borg Social Impact Award, the Anita Borg Technical Leadership Award, and the Anita Borg Top Company for Technical Women Award.

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