Giving Women the Access Code

September 6, 2012 | by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs

When Maria Klawe became president of Harvey Mudd College in 2006, she was dismayed to find that the percentage of female computer science graduates from the college was stuck in the single digits.

A renowned computer scientist and scholar, Klawe turned that figure around dramatically, and in 2012 more than 40 percent of Harvey Mudd’s computer science degrees went to women. The statistic is even more startling when compared nationally, where women account for only 14 percent of college graduates in the field.

On Thursday, September 13, Klawe will tell Harvey Mudd College’s turnaround story at Elmhurst College when she presents Giving Women the Access Code, part of Elmhurst’s yearlong Science, Technology and Society lecture series.

In the U.S., women hold less than 25 percent of the jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math (or STEM) fields, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Klawe’s work at Harvey Mudd sent ripples throughout the tech industry. In a recent Business Week article, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer acknowledged his company’s struggle to find women for technical roles and executive positions.  “We need to keep more women interested longer in their lives in STEM subjects,” he said. Klawe’s work at Harvey Mudd “gives us something good to emulate.”

Klawe is one of the ten members of the board of Microsoft Corporation, a board member of Broadcom Corporation and the nonprofit Math for America, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and a trustee for the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley. Before joining Harvey Mudd College, Klawe served as dean of engineering and professor of computer science at Princeton University.

Giving Women the Access Code will be held on Thursday, September 13, at 7:00 p.m. in the Founders Lounge of the Frick Center. Admission is $10 for the general public and free for Elmhurst College students, faculty, staff and alumni. Tickets are available at the door or online. For more information, call (630) 617-3390.

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