Friday, April 15, 2011

Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology: Believing in Technological Women

Anita Borg Institute

The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology (ABI) was founded in 1997 by renowned computer scientist Anita Borg, Ph.D. (1949-2003). Initially known as the Institute for Women in Technology, IWT was renamed in 2003 to the Anita Borg Institute in order to honor Dr. Borg.

Prior to founding the Institute, in 1987 Dr. Borg founded Systers, the first online community for women in computing. In 1997 along with colleague and friend Telle Whitney, PhD, Drs. Borg and Whitney began the inaugural Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. Systers and the Grace Hopper Celebration remain important cornerstones of ABI’s work today. In 2002, Dr. Whitney was named President and CEO of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology.

Who is Anita Borg?
Anita Borg

Anita Borg had a unique capacity to mix technical expertise and fearless vision that inspired, motivated and moved women to embrace technology instead of fearing or ignoring it. She touched and changed the lives of countless women in the computing fields and beyond. She is responsible for including women in the technological revolution – not as bystanders, but as active participants and leaders. Anita Borg Naffz was born on January 17, 1949 in Chicago, Illinois. Anita found her way to a computer keyboard in her mid-20s. In 1981, she received a Ph.D. in computer science from the Courant Institute at New York University and embarked on a brilliant research career for some of the industry’s commercial giants. Her success in breaking through the “silicon ceiling” was an exception that proved the rule.

Anita founded the Systers online community in 1987, well before the concept of an online community was a part of the mainstream. In 1994, Anita co-founded the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. In 1997 she founded the Institute for Women and Technology which encompassed her earlier endeavors and began new programs, partnerships, and initiatives to include women in all aspects of technology.

In 1999, President Clinton appointed Anita to the Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering, and Technology. From 1998-1999, 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.

Mission of Anita Borg Institute
  • Increase the impact of women on all aspects of technology, and
  • Increase the positive impact of technology on the world’s women.
Since 1997, ABI has developed tools and programs designed to help industry, academia and government recruit, retain and develop women technology leaders. By providing inclusive platforms designed to ensure women’s voices, ideas and spirits will result in higher levels of technical innovation, ABI delivers programs that are changing the world for women and for technology. ABI focuses on increasing the impact of women on all aspects of technology and increase the positive impact of technology on the world’s women? By a concept ABI calls The Virtuous Cycle.

The Virtuous Cycle

Women in our society are encouraged to embrace engineering and technical professions and through those professions, learn the skills of leadership. Women use their leadership skills to influence the ways in which technology is designed and implemented, focusing on significant practical solutions to problems that trouble them – energy, food, clean water, health, literacy, environment—and a host of other issues confronting the world.

As products and services result from their innovations and permeate the global market, the capabilities of technical women are demonstrated, and new generations of women follow in their footsteps, in a profession that grows increasingly more supportive of women.

Impact of Anita Borg Institute

ABI’s goal is to recruit, retain, and advance technical women. They evaluate the programs’ success in inspiring women, breaking feelings of isolation, providing networking and professional development opportunities, and increasing their commitment to a technology career or studies. Additionally, they systematically evaluate and report the quality of their programs.

It is observed in Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing 2010 Evaluation and Impact Report, ABI encourages women to pursue and remain in the field of computer science by providing a wide range of role models, peer-networking opportunities, and up-to-date data on advanced education choices and career options in computing. Breaking feelings of isolation and increasing confidence, providing inspiration and career commitment are other impacts caused by this non profit institution.

For more information visit

Friday, April 1, 2011

Summary of 'Condition of Women in Philippine'

Before watching Dil Nusrat's blog video clip on 'Condition of women in Philippine' I did not know that Philippine is among the top ten countries where gender gap is in minimal place. Philippine has strong female political empowerment beside men, moreover they achieved equality in educational attainment, healthy life expectancy and improving opportunities for skilled women so that they can attain success in their professional life. Women and national policy makers, especially the Asians should follow the steps of Philippine to achieve gender equality.

Gender Mainstream Project: Coastal Women's Electrification

The video clip tells us about a World Bank financed solar electrification project in southern coastal area of Bangladesh. The purpose of this gender mainstreaming project is to transfer the technology to poor rural women and create a sense of diversifying in rural society. 25 less educated, vulnerable.women were selected for the project so that they can change themselves and change the life of their community. This project is replicated in India, Pakistan,Afghanistan and several African countries.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Climate Disaster: Living the Nightmare

A poor man was telling an unfortunate tale in a pitiful voice on television. He man used to earn lakh taka, had approximately 350 fishermen worked for him until year 2005. But now his fortune has radically changed. Coastal calamities have snatched all that he had. Now he feels like a cursed man forcefully confined into this hell (South west coastline of Bangladesh). This is just a single piece of picture of the pathetic saga of victims of climate change in Bangladesh. Germanwatch, a Germany based non-profit research organization identified Bangladesh as the nation most vulnerable to climate change in 2011. Countries may differ but the wretched scenario remains common in South Asia as climate changed has raised destructive situations through frequent natural calamities. Poverty alleviation has been the highest priority in South Asian countries in previous years. Apparent poverty, high population growth and political turbulence worked against establishing peace in South Asia. But now, climate change is driving South Asian countries towards an intense vulnerability. Therefore, South Asia is considered to be the most disaster prone reign in the world and this problem clearly stand against establishing peace throughout the subcontinent.

In Bangladesh, the impact of climate change is indescribable. Flood, decrease of subsurface water level in summer, rising sea-level, intensification of coastal calamities are the consequences of Climate change. The people of South west coastline are the worst sufferers. Many villages are still locked with saline water since the Cyclone Aila (May 21-22, 2009) passed over the south of Bangladesh (south west, Sunderbans), Kolkata, India. This coastal hazard caused death of many people, increased waterborne diseases, decreased fresh water supply and sanitation and agricultural productivity. In short, the disaster came in the form of severe social and economic shock as most of the  people had no shelter to live with the misery and no income source to start their life again. 

Similar thing has been seen in India. Climate change in Indian Bengal delta (Sunderbans) is threatening fresh water resources and Mangrove ecosystem, and causing displacement of dependent communities. As a result of these natural as well as manmade disasters, the achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has been hampered, including those on poverty, hunger and illiteracy eradication, reducing child mortality rate and diseases, ensuring employment, improving maternal health and ensuring environmental sustainability. Now the victims are recognized as “Climate refugee” for the adverse consequences.

As a representative of Bangladesh Youth Environmental Initiative I will suggest short-term and long-term solutions. Short-term solution contains raising funds, providing immediate help with food, medication, warm clothes, shelter and removing saline flood water from locality. Long-term solution includes disaster knowledge management, providing financial help as well as social entrepreneurship and micro financing with low payback rates for reestablishing empowerment and safe shelter, ensuring food security through “salt-resistant rice” developed by the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute, other technological help, youth’s voluntary participation, and improve collaboration among working agencies and government. Above all, role of awareness is the vital one to combat the rising problem beside these solutions.

IT and Women

Technology can be used to accelerate development and decrease gender gap. But the reality is-uneven distribution of IT within societies and across the globe is resulting in a "digital divide" between those who have access to information resources and those who do not. Women across the world undergo a lower degree of economic security than men and face gender-related constraints. If women are not provided with equal technological opportunities the gender gap will become wider and this condition will push women to the margin of their respected society. To attain the fundamental needs, such as education, health security, economic participation and professional opportunity, and political empowerment all women should be introduced and skilled with the knowledge of IT. It can be helpful for providing distance education and trainings as many women are unable to go to big cities to attain academic degree. Activities of different professional training center and micro finance company can contribute to the widespread of IT to rural or countryside areas. Once the women relate themselves to IT, it will widen their view toward education, social life and status, health security and economy, etc. Even the women of those particular areas can become more aware about their political rights and will be able to learn about the political activities going on around them. In near future, election campaign will be possible through internet in developing countries like Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka. Today, in Bangladesh, many women are getting health care and medication service and agricultural solutions through cell phone. Even many women are involved with cell phone booth business to provide telecommunication services. But still, more men are attaining technological knowledge than women. Day by day, professional level of women is rising, but in compare to that gender gap is not decreasing as it is expected. If we want to get the desired result of using IT, we have to consider these gender gaps as huge obstacles before global gender equality and try to close these gaps for the sake of women’s own advancement.