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Computer scientist Irene Greif is one of a growing group of American women making
important contributions in a typically male-dominated field. Greif, who was
a mathematics standout at Hunter College High School in New York as a teenager,
was the first woman to earn a doctorate in electrical engineering and computer
science from MIT in 1975. She has also served
as a faculty member there, appointed in 1982 as a principal research scientist.
She headed up a research group in MIT's Laboratory
for Computer Science to develop shared calendar, coauthoring, and real-time
In 1987, Greif joined Lotus Development Corp.
in Cambridge, Mass. In 1992 she formed the Lotus Research Group, and has been
credited with helping to create a "world-class research and development organization"
at the company. She became known as an expert in how people work with computers
and how people can work with each other using computers.
Colleagues have said she brought a more user-friendly perspective to the field,
bringing social scientists and computer scientists together for the first time,
in a forum that had never existed before. She is the founder of the field of
Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW),
the science of interaction between people and their machines. This new field
serves as the basis for groupware such as Lotus Notes, one of the industry's
groundbreaking e-mail and collaboration software products. In 1988, she edited
"Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, A Book of Readings," the first book in
Among the innovative products Grief and her team developed at Lotus are the
Version Manager for 1-2-3, a feature that launched the group-enabling of all
Lotus products; InterNotes Web Publisher (a precursor to the Domino program);
the first Palm Pilot conduit for Notes mail; the Sametime system, which is Lotus'
real-time communications product; and most recently, a design vision for reinventing
email. Lotus was acquired by IBM in 1995 and
shortly thereafter Greif became one of only four women ever named an IBM fellow.
Greif has been recognized for her work with a number of awards and honors. She
is a fellow of both the Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and
Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), and in 2000 she was inducted into
the Women In Technology International (WITI) Hall of Fame. She is a wife and
mother who has said, "You can have a family or whatever else you want to
mix into your life. You make trade-offs. I can't say I always got it right,
but I can say that I thought it through."