Klawe speaks on getting women involved in technology


Maria Klawe. Photo taken by Sarah Thorne.

Maria Klawe, the president of Harvey Mudd College, has spent the majority of her life trying to recruit more women into technology-related fields. Through her research at various universities, Klawe has developed several programs to bring in and retain more females in the sciences.

Klawe believes that diversity is vital in the workplace and that recruitment must not stop with females, but should encourage diversity of race and sexuality as well. Klawe stressed the importance of tech jobs in the future and thinks diversity will play an important role in solving problems effectively.

“Virtually every problem that faces the world today””IT, computing is going to be a part of the solution. It’s not going to be the whole solution by any means, but it’s going to be part of it,” Klawe said. “If you don’t have diverse teams working on solutions, the solutions are going to be way worse.”

Students from various disciplines attended the lecture and they stayed well after to ask questions and discuss some of the issues she touched on. Junior Chandler Grace was very impressed with Klawe and the work she has done.

“As someone who has done engineering and computer science for 16 years and then promptly got out of it once I got to college, I would certainly say this is worthwhile and interesting to look at from an academic side,” Grace said.

Klawe discussed the various ways she and others have worked to change the culture of computer science in order to attract and retain more females in the field. Most of this work began at other universities, but Klawe has continued it in her current position. Her goal is to make Harvey Mudd College an example to all schools who want to get more women involved in computer science and other technology-related fields.

One of the many things the computer science department at Harvey Mudd did was make the introduction to computer science courses less intimidating for beginners, and add various levels based on student experience.

“We changed our introduction to computer science courses to have a section for people with no prior knowledge, one with some prior knowledge and those that have spent way too much time programming in order to not intimidate our newer students,” Klawe said.

Junior Natalie Seitzman was also impressed with the lecture and the way Klawe has approached the technology gender gap and worked towards finding a solution. She believes that Klawe is working for the good of the sciences and hopes she will continue to bring diversity more to the forefront.

“I really enjoyed it. I thought she was a very exciting speaker,” Seitzman said. “It’s very inspiring to see a president put in all this work and have results.”

Klawe has spent much of her professional life working towards increasing diversity in technology and says it has been a passion of hers since she was 17. Since she has become president of Harvey Mudd College, the number of female students attending Harvey Mudd has increased by 15 percent and the college recently graduated an engineering class that was more than 50 percent female””a first for the college. She has gained national recognition for her work and hopes to inspire others to follow hers and other examples to increase diversity in technology industries.