Recognizing Women's Accomplishments: Past, Present and Future

Telle Whitney

As head of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology I have the opportunity to recognize and celebrate the achievements of incredible women who are changing the face of technology today. Two months ago at our annual Women of Vision awards ceremony we recognized three women: Radia Perlman, a Distinguished Engineer at Sun whose work greatly impacted the internet, Pamela Samuelson, a Professor of Law and Information Management at UC Berkeley whose work looked at how the new world of IT and the law come together and Janie Tsao, the founder of Linksys, now at Cisco. The accomplishments of these women were inspiring and humbling to all of the attendees including very senior accomplished executives and over 100 students. I think it is really important to take the time to recognize the achievements of remarkable women, and it is especially important to recognize some whose accomplishments are unfamiliar to many. Women like these are role models for the next generation.

As important as it is to celebrate the achievements of women making important and world changing contributions today, we equally need to support and develop the technical leaders of tomorrow. An important and exciting effort recognizing young women is the 2006 Google Anita Borg Scholarship, named in honor of the Institute founder, and my close friend, Dr. Anita Borg. Anita imagined a world where women were equal partners in creating the technology of tomorrow. Her vision included a world with equal participation of men and women, but she also believed passionately that women bring an important and different perspective to the creation of technology. In her honor, Google offers scholarships to undergraduate and graduate women students. I've had the chance to meet all of the Google Anita Borg Scholarship winners and finalists to date, and they are an incredible group of women, with a diverse set of ambitions, strengths and visions.

If you know of someone who is a student, and a candidate, please encourage them to apply.

This time of year is a time to reflect on what we can do to change the world for women. I encourage you to take a few minutes out of your busy life, and recognize the positive achievements of a woman in your organization, or in your life. If appropriate, encourage them to apply for the Google scholarship, or if not, then not only tell them what great work they've done, tell someone else about them.