September 24, 2011 AT 1:02 pm

College President Champions Women in Computer Science

Great article from Business Week about Harvey Mudd College President Maria Klawe:

As Harvey Mudd College President Maria Klawe strolled her Southern California campus recently, she stopped to talk with Lillian de Greef, a senior eager to discuss her plans to pursue a graduate degree in computer science. De Greef entered Mudd as a technology novice and, like a growing number of women at the school, she’s now fluent in multiple programming languages. “I just really enjoy learning about all this stuff, writing the code,” she says.

De Greef’s enthusiasm is a testament to the quiet revolution waged by Klawe, 60, since she arrived in 2006 from Princeton University, where she was dean of the engineering school. On her watch, the percentage of female computer science majors at Mudd, one of California’s prestigious Claremont colleges, has more than tripled, to 42 percent. Nationally, women account for 14 percent of college graduates in the field, according to the Computing Research Assn.

Klawe’s transformation of this small liberal arts college 35 miles east of Los Angeles has sent ripples from Seattle to Silicon Valley, where startups and technology giants are desperate to find talented developers, even as the unemployment rate hovers above 9 percent. In the U.S., women hold less than 25 percent of jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, according to the Commerce Dept. Klawe has “actually moved the numbers,” says Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook. “In the midst of what is a very serious employment issue in the country, there’s a field here that’s dying for more very well qualified people.”

Read more…


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