[Published originally in the May 2003 edition of Computing Research News, Vol. 15/No. 3, p. 10.]
Remembering Anita Borg-A Legacy of Achievement
CRA joins the many friends and colleagues of Anita Borg who celebrate her life and mourn her passing on April 6, 2003.
A graduate of the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University, with a Ph.D. in computer science, Anita was a research computer scientist in the area of fault-tolerant operating systems and microprocessor memory systems. She spent 11 years working in research at Digital Equipment.
Anita was an active member of the CRA Board of Directors from 1994 to 2000. In September 2000, she was awarded the CRA A. Nico Habermann Award for her dedication and contributions to aiding members of underrepresented groups within the computing research community.
Among the comments made by her nominators at that time included: "Anita has done more than any other individual to attract, encourage, and retain women in computing research"; "I cannot think of anyone more worthy of the A. Nico Habermann Award"; and "Anita Borg has encouraged more women to pursue and advance in computing careers than any other person..." The nomination also included the names of 100 other women from nine countries who lent their support.
Anita worked tirelessly to create a community of women in CS. She encouraged women to make connections, give and receive advice, exchange information, develop their own strengths, and reduce their sense of isolation.
The Systers mailing list, started by Anita Borg in 1987 for women in systems, has grown into an international Internet community with more than 2,500 members from 38 countries. It has spawned more focused lists such as Systers-students and Systers-academia. Anita was the Keeper of Systers for 10 years, moderating its discussions, developing web-based information and communication technology to support it, and nurturing its community.
In 1994, Anita co-founded the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing series (with Dr. Telle Whitney) to highlight the research of women, build community, and provide career development opportunities. The conference, held every other year, is now the largest meeting of women in computing in the world.
Anita then expanded her focus to include women in all aspects of technology by creating the Institute for Women and Technology (IWT). This non-profit institution has two visionary goals: to increase the participation of women in all aspects of technology and to increase the positive impact of technology on the lives of women. It assumed responsibility for Systers and the Hopper Celebration and launched a new initiative, called Virtual Development Centers, in which ideas generated in exploration and innovation events are realized in prototypes by faculty, students, and professionals.
In addition, Anita served on a variety of boards and committees, including the Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering, and Technology; the National Academy of Engineering Celebration of Women in Engineering Steering Committee; the National Research Council Committee on Women in Science and Engineering; and CRA-W. She was a Fellow of ACM, and in 2002 received the Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy, and Employment.
Anita Borg will be greatly missed. CRA's condolences go out to her husband, family, and friends.
Additional information, including details of a memorial fund set up in Anita Borg's memory, can be found on the Web at: http://www.iwt.org/news/anitaborg/inmemory.htm.
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