Systers – Email Lists for Women in Computing

Systers – Email Lists for Women in Computing

Systers Email Lists for Women in Computing


Systers is a private worldwide email list for women in computing, specifically, for those involved in the ‘technical aspects’ of computing, referred to as “technologists”. Systers is part of the Anita Borg Institute (ABI), founded in 1994. The Systers email list began in 1987, and now has over 5,500 members from at least 60 countries. “We welcome the participation of women technologists of all ages and at any stage of their studies or careers.” In 1993, Anita Borg wrote about the purpose and mission of the Systers‘ female-only communication community.



The email list and web-based forum also includes many sub-communities. All the sub-communities have a separate subscription request process. Some sub-communities are open to current members of the broader Systers list, and others require a unique subscription application to submit qualifications. A woman may be a member of multiple communities.


Some sub-communities are referred to as Systers Affinity Communities, where “Systers can identify themselves culturally to share and offer support in challenges within their communities.” These include:

  • Underrepresented Women in Computing
  • Latinas in Computing
  • Black Women in Computing
  • African Women in Computing
  • Native American Women in Computing
  • LGBTQ-A in Computing
  • Turkish Women in Computing
  • Arab Women in Computing
  • Asian Women in Computing
  • Indian Women in Computing
  • Filipinas in Computing
  • Chinese Women in Computing


    Other sub-communities are part of ABI’s collaboration with the Computing Research Association’s Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research (CRA-W), whose “programs, people, and materials provide mentoring and support for women at every level of the research pipeline: undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and industry and government researchers.” These subcommittees are referred to as Systers and CRA-W, and include:

  • PhDJobHuntHers – for women who are seeking or starting beginning Ph.D. level jobs in computer science, computer engineering, or information technology in academia, industry, or government laboratories
  • JrProfessHers (Pretenures) – for women faculty in computer science, computer engineering and information technology who do not yet have tenure
  • ProfessHers – for women faculty members in computer science, computer engineering, and information technology to informally discuss issues related to their jobs and being successful in their careers
  • ResearcHers – an informal organization for women computer science researchers (not for managers or students)


    And lastly, there are sub-communities referred to as Systers Technical Interests. These include:

  • Entrepreneurs – for questions of interest to female IT-related entrepreneurs
  • Systers-TechTalk – for technical computing topics that are not specific to women.
  • Systers IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) – for Systers involved in IETF topics — both technical and specific to women
  • Systers-FOSS – for discussing “How to Get Started with Open Source Development”
  • Systers-Dev – strictly for the development of Systers’ open source project which is a customized version of GNU Mailman mailing list
  • Systers-Wikipedia – strictly for Female Wikipedians
  • Student ResearcHers – formed from the membership of Systers and ResearcHers. This list seeks to include student researchers, industry and academic researchers. Sharing what type of research and opportunities in research is encouraged in a mentor-like atmosphere.



    To join one of the email forums, click on the Join Systers link from the main Systers page. You’ll be directed to a form and asked to state your qualifications. To join the main Systers community you must state your involvement in technical computing, that you are a woman, and you agree to the rules of the list. Members are notified of the moderator’s decision regarding acceptance. To join a sub-community, click on its link from one of the above links for a separate subscription form.

    The form includes a brief how-to about using the list, and looks like this:
    Systers Women in Tech community email list



    From the ABI website: ABI is “a social enterprise founded on the belief that women are vital to building technology that the world needs.” ABI seeks to “accelerate the pace of global innovation by working to ensure that the creators of technology mirror the people and societies who use it” through partnerships, awards, programs, events, and communities. Founder, Anita Borg, “believed what research has now proven to be true, that organizations that actively include women benefit from increased innovation and better bottom line results.”



    Free! The parent organization has donors, volunteers, and corporate sponsors.



    Best of Systers blog includes photos and descriptions of the community’s participation in events, profiles of women ‘technologists’, announcements about Systers, and upcoming events.

    Systers FAQ has three sections and detailed information about how to use the list, how to operate the list features, list etiquette, and how to start conversations.

    @systers_org Systers Community Twitter statement reads: “Systers, a program of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, is the first e-mail community for women in computing.”

    Anita Borg Institute Google page reads: “The Anita Borg Institute provides resources and programs to help industry, academia, and government recruit, retain, and develop women leaders in technical fields.”



    An August 13, 2014 post by Ana Cutillas on Google’s Open Source Blog outlines her journey from Summer of Code student to being an organization administrator for Systers.

    A July 15, 2014 interview by ABI Social Media Manager, Brianne Huntsman, titled “Celebrating Systers-An Interview with Rose Robinson, Our Systers Keeper”. The conversation provides additional insight into Systers: who it’s for, that members organize meetups, and its impact.

    A March 7, 2014 Huffington Post article by Kathy Brown, titled “Women in Tech Share Three Secrets of the Job”, names both the ABI and Systers in a list of Five Great Resources for Women in Technology, at the end of the article.

    Oct. 5, 2012 2.5 minute YouTube video: “We Are Systers!” – Celebrating the Anita Borg Institute’s Systers Program includes members stating how long they’ve been a Syster, and describing the list.

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