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.

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