Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Celebrating Anita Borg on Ada Lovelace Day

I never met Anita Borg while she was alive - but I serve on the board of the non-profit that bears her name and so I am reminded of her legacy frequently.

The Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology is about the impact of women on technology and the impact of technology on the world's women. It was originally set up by Anita to bring women together and advance them in technology and when she died it was renamed in her honor -- it's a testimony to Anita that the institute survived her. As happens with many non-profits, the future without the founder was unclear, and I was recruited right at that moment by two friends on the board. I watched as Anita's friends and admirers: professors, CTOs and VPs of engineering at the largest technology companies, came together to put a healthy funding model and growth strategy is place. ABI is now funded by world leaders like Google, IBM, HP, Intel, Microsoft and Cisco to name just a few.

Now, 5 years later, the institute serves thousands of women each year with conferences like the annual Grace Hopper Conference, the Systers online community and training programs like Tech Leaders.

Anita's direct impact is well documented - especially at the ABI site. I am celebrating her on Ada Lovelace day not only because of how she impacted women in technology during her life but also because she found a way to leave a long lasting impact on the world's technical women through her institute.

1 comment:

Eva said...

I was lucky enough to have met and known Anita. I knew her the last two years of her life. We worked together at PARC just two doors apart on a long hallway. At that time we both worked late nights many times and often met in hallway or office conversations when the rest of the building was silent.
Anita was an amazing and awe inspiring woman. She gave me the inspiration to move onto teaching robotics even though I did not have an engineering degree. She counseled and encouraged young women and teens even as she was battling her cancer. She never complained about her illness and remained strong to the end.
Her life long goal was to help as many women as she could to thrive in their lives. It is so wonderful to see her organization and legacy continue even after she has left us.
It's exactly as she would have wanted it.

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