Anita Borg

From Academic Kids

Anita Borg (January 17, 1949 - April 6, 2003) was born Anita Borg Naffz in Chicago, Illinois, She grew up in Palatine, Illinois, Kaneohe, Hawaii, and Mukilteo, Washington.



Borg was one of a relatively small group of female computer scientists at the Ph.D. level. After getting her doctorate in computer science from New York University in 1981, she worked for several computer companies and then spent 12 years in Digital Equipment's Western Research Laboratory and as consultant engineer in the Network Systems Laboratory in Palo Alto. Her primary responsibility was for the MECCA Communications And Information Systems project. She developed and patented a method for generating complete address traces used for analyzing and designing high-speed memory systems.

In 1987 while attending a major industry conference, Borg realized there were only a handful of women attending. She pulled that small group together and started Systers, an e-mail list and information-sharing community providing mentors, support and encouragement to women in computing. Today, Systers has grown to include over 2,500 women in 38 countries.

She also started a technical conference for women, called the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.

The Institute of Women and Technology

Anita Borg was the founding director of the IWT. Beginning in, it was supported and funded by Xerox. Her goals for the institute were threefold:

  • bring nontechnical women into the design process
  • encourage more women to become scientist
  • and help the industry, academia, and the government accelerate these changes.

The institute received $150,000 in funding from Xerox and Sun, as well as personnel and resources from Lotus (now a division of IBM), Boston University, and Carnegie Mellon University. Xerox acted as the incubator for the institute, which is otherwise independent.

Awards and Recognition

In 1999, President Bill Clinton appointed her to the Presidential Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering, and Technology. She was charged with recommending strategies to the nation for increasing the breadth of participation fields for women.

Borg received the Augusta Ada Lovelace Award from the Association for Women in Computing for her work on behalf of women in the computing field in 1995.

Dr. Borg received additional awards and recognition from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Girl Scouts and was listed on Open Computing Magazine's "Top 100 Women In Computing."

Borg is quoted as saying that she always loved math and science, an interest she attributed to her mother. "My mother taught me that math was fun, so I thought it could be," she said.

Dr. Borg died of brain cancer in 2003.

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