Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Anita Borg on why there should be more women technologists

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 23, 2006

The late Anita Borg did a tremendous amount of work in highlighting the need for more women in technology. With the upcoming Grace Hopper Celebration of Women In Computing conference in San Diego Oct. 4 to 7, an event she co-founded in 1994 with Telle Whitney, I'd like to publish part of Anita Borg's Heinz Award acceptance speech. It raises awareness about why there should be more women in technology fields.

3/12/2002:

I would like to thank the Heinz Foundation for recognizing with this award that the development of the technology for the future must have positive social and human impacts. In the near future, technology will affect everything: our economic, political, social and personal lives.

Will technology be used to help solve problems of energy, food, water and clean air? Control disease? Nurture our children? Care for our elderly and disability? Will technology be used to increase literacy, particularly among women? Will it enable a fair global economy? Will we live in peace? Will it be used to solve the problems or create the futures that women want?

. . . Around the world, women are not full partners in driving the creation of the new technology that will define their lives. This is not good for women and not good for the world.

The involvement of women can bring important perspectives and directions to the technology of the future. Women must have dramatically higher representation in technical fields.

But bringing women into the existing system as technologists is not sufficient. All sorts of women—technical and non-technical, rich and poor, from the developed, developing, and underdeveloped worlds, must define the technology of the future.

The system that creates the technology of the future must change to include all of these women, as women, not just as faceless technologists.

. . . I want to take a few words to honor all of the women who are now working in computer science and technology as programmers or researchers or systems developers, building the future in the way that they think it should be built. It is often difficult to continue in spite of the fact that their environments may not be supportive. To any women who has stuck with her ideas, believing that there are different ways to do it, thank you for sticking with it!

Finally, thank you to the people, women and men, who share and support the passion and vision at the Institute for Women and Technology. We can change the world!

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SVW: Interview with Telle Whitney, head of the Anita Borg Institute

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