by Jill Delaney-Shal
In 2012, Ellen Lapham, Carol Muller, and Kathy Richardson set out to memorialize the spirit of inspiration that their close friend Anita Borg brought to their lives. The original project, a community blog known as Anita’s Quilt, showcased the array of people whose lives Anita touched, influenced, and energized.
This year, we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Systers, the online community that Anita Borg founded to support women in tech—not as bystanders, but as active participants and dynamic leaders. We’ll honor this mission by republishing some of our favorite Anita’s Quilt stories: Those that celebrate the theme of persistence, in order to provide women technologists with ideas and inspiration for overcoming challenges in their careers and personal lives.
A version of this post was published on Anita’s Quilt on January 17, 2013.
“This is Really, Really Hard Work”
Along with being an accomplished systems researcher, Anita Borg was a rebel with a cause. She fought tirelessly to ensure that technology’s impact would be a positive one. She fought to include, inspire, and empower other women to become technology creators and leaders.
The Quilt Committee Remembers Anita Borg
“I thought about Anita’s ways of bringing people together, and the process of piecing a quilt came to mind. Anita was fascinated by people as well as technology and big, bold ideas, and she enjoyed connecting people to one another to help realize those ideas. She joyfully connected people without any particular agenda—If she found them interesting, she was pretty sure others would, too.” —Carol Muller
“Anita introduced me to an amazing group of technical women. Some I met at her women’s parties, dancing and hot tubbing until dawn; some while I was her sidekick at early Grace Hopper Celebrations; and some who she brought together for the Institute. She always handed me an amazing amount of responsibility, and inspired me to work outside my comfort zone. Every day I continued to be awed and inspired by these women in technology.” —Kathy Richardson
“Anita lived across the road from me in the hills way above Palo Alto. We spent many informal times at her kitchen table with our dogs underfoot, sharing war stories and talking about her vision: Founding the Institute for Women and Technology. (The “and” was very important to her.) Anita was emphatic and persistent in her belief that women must design and control how technology enhances our lives. At some point, she would pause, look at me with a very serious expression on her face, and state “this is really, really hard work!” Then she’d smile and we’d laugh, because we knew it was worth the effort. In retrospect, each of us should be so lucky to find purpose like hers, and a great community to help take it on.” —Ellen Lapham
Do you have a story of persistence that honors Anita’s legacy? Share it with us for a chance to be featured here.