April 8, 2003 12:23 PM PDT

Computer scientist Anita Borg dies

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Anita Borg, a respected computer scientist who worked to increase the ranks of women in technology, died late Sunday.

The cause of her death was brain cancer, according to the Institute for Women and Technology. She was 54.

Borg, who lived in Los Altos Hills, Calif., founded the Institute for Women and Technology in 1997. The nonprofit group seeks to help increase the number of women in high-tech jobs and expand women's impact on technology design.

"We'll try to be a catalyst for development projects that include women at all levels--in the design and development process," Borg told CNET News.com in a 1998 interview about the Institute. "It doesn't help to just get women's opinions and then turn them over to an all-white-male engineering team."

Borg was a co-founder of the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, a technical conference now run by the institute that showcases the successes of women in the field. The conference, which started in 1994, is now the largest gathering of its kind. Borg's advocacy work began in 1987, when she started an online community called Systers that provides support and encouragement to female engineers. The group has grown to 2,500 women in 38 countries.

In 1999, President Clinton appointed Borg to the Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering and Technology. In 2002 she received a Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment.

Born in Chicago, Borg got her first programming job in 1969 and went on to earn a doctorate in computer science from the Courant Institute at New York University in 1981. Her career included 12 years at Digital Equipment's research labs.

Borg is survived by her husband, Winfried Wilcke; a sister, Lee Naffz; and her mother, Beverly Naffz. A private memorial is planned.

 

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