Anita Borg Institute Honors Three Prominent Women in Technology at Women of Vision Awards Banquet


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Justine Cassell, Helen Greiner, and Susan Landau Lauded for Outstanding Innovation, Leadership, and Social Impact

PALO ALTO, Calif. — May 15, 2008 —The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology (ABI) hosted its third annual Women of Vision Awards banquet on May 8 to honor three leaders in technology: Justine Cassell, professor, Northwestern University; Helen Greiner, co-founder and chairman, iRobot; and Susan Landau, distinguished engineer, Sun Microsystems. The evening highlighted the winners’ accomplishments and contributions in three areas: Innovation, Leadership and Social Impact.

Attracting nearly 700 attendees, an increase of 15 percent over last year, the event attracted industry and academic professionals and college-age women inspired by role models, supported and encouraged by the community. More than 135 college and high school students were seated at Share the Vision tables sponsored by technology companies and area universities.

In her acceptance speech, Helen Greiner, winner in the Innovation category, said that even though she demonstrated all the signs of being “a geek” growing up, “no one encouraged me to think about going into technology or becoming an engineer. It’s important that we offer encouragement to our kids early on, to ensure innovation in the future.”

Susan Landau, winner in the Social Impact category, noted that creating an impact sometimes means “being a thorn” and that the best advice she’d been given in 30 years was, “It’s about quality, not quantity. Always be completely present in anything you do.”

Leadership winner Justine Cassell spoke about the importance of passion. Although she has earned multiple educational degrees, Cassell believes “passion is an essential ingredient for accomplishing your goals.”

The 2008 Women of Awards banquet was supported by two gold sponsors: Juniper Networks and Sun Microsystems. Additional sponsors were Cisco, CBS 5, SAP, Adobe, Career Action Center, eBay, Google, Intuit, and Symantec. Increased sponsorship over last year marks an increase in both financial support and a recognition of the importance of ABI’s mission.

“We are very pleased to honor Justine, Helen, and Susan as this year’s Women of Vision Awards winners; they are truly role models for all generations of women technologists,” said ABI CEO Dr. Telle Whitney. “The outstanding achievements they have made over the course of their careers exemplify their dedication to making a difference, passion for what they do, and desire to create an impact on the world. Their achievements not only improve our world, but also help pave the way for younger women to excel and extend their own unique brand of passion and excellence into the world through their technological accomplishments.”

About the Women of Vision Award Winners
The three Women of Vision award winners were selected from a field of more than 50 nominees, all of whom are engaged in technology professions in industry, academia, NGOs or government.

Justine Cassell, Professor, Northwestern University
The award winner in the Leadership category, Cassell is recognized in the field of computer science for her development of the Embodied Conversational Agent (ECA), a virtual human capable of interacting with humans using both verbal and non-verbal behavior. Cassell has investigated the role that the ECA can play in children’s lives as a Story Listening System (SLS) providing peer support for learning language and literacy skills. She has also employed linguistic and psychological analyses to look at the effects of online conversation on the self-esteem, self-efficacy, and sense of community among a particularly diverse group of young people. The goal of Cassell’s research is to develop technologies that evoke the most human and humane of our capabilities, and to study their effects on our evolving world. Cassell’s research addressing real issues in different types of learning and education make her a leader and a woman of vision.

Helen Greiner, Co-founder and Chairman, iRobot
Helen Greiner is the Women of Vision Award winner in the Innovation category. In the early days of iRobot, Greiner envisioned robots as the basis for an entirely new class of products that would improve life by taking on dangerous and undesirable tasks. Her vision has been brought to life by products such as the iRobot Roomba® Vacuuming Robot, which has sold more than two million units to consumers throughout the world; and the iRobot PackBot® Tactical Mobile Robot, which is helping save soldiers’ lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Starting with government research funding, Greiner created iRobot’s Government & Industrial Robots division, which led to the first deployment of robots in combat in Operation Enduring Freedom. Through her forward-looking instincts and leadership, iRobot has become a world leader in the robot industry. Greiner has spent nearly 20 years working on robot innovation and commercialization, including stints at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Labs.

Susan Landau, Distinguished Engineer, Sun Microsystems
Susan Landau is the Women of Vision Award winner in the Social Impact category due to her unusual blend of technical expertise, policy insight, industry connections, and drive, along with her dedication to the advancement of women in computing. Landau’s work focuses on the interplay between security and public policy. She has had a profound impact as an extensive commentator and advisor on U.S. wiretapping and encryption policy, as a world-renowned expert in computational algebra and number theory (mathematics intimately related to cryptography), and in developing numerous programs to benefit women in computer science. A Sun Microsystems Distinguished Engineer, Landau is a leading scholar in security and computer science and publishes widely. Her book, Privacy on the Line: the Politics of Wiretapping and Encryption, co-authored with Whitfield Diffie, attracted immediate international attention and played a significant role in the 2000 loosening of U.S. cryptographic export-control regulations, stimulating the global technology economy and offering protection to consumers in all non-embargoed countries.

About the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology (ABI)
The Anita Borg Institute provides resources and programs to help industry, academia, and government recruit, retain, and develop women leaders in high-tech fields, resulting in higher levels of technological innovation. ABI programs serve high-tech women by creating a community and providing tools to help them develop their careers. ABI is a not-for-profit 501(c) 3 charitable organization. ABI Partners include: Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft Corporation, IBM, Intel, Cisco, Juniper Networks, National Science Foundation, Sun Microsystems, Symantec, NetApp, and Capgemini. For more information, visit


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