Klawe Wins Woman of Vision Award for Leadership

Harvey Mudd College President
Maria Klawe was named one of three recipients of the 2014
Women of Vision ABIE Award, an annual award given by the Anita Borg Institute (ABI) that
recognizes women who have made contributions to leadership, innovation, and
social impact in the field of technology. Klawe received the award in the leadership category, according to a Feb. 25 press release announcing the award winners. 

The president, who was on the ABI Board of Trustees until
2011, said that the award speaks to her life goal of changing the culture of science and engineering so that it is
supportive of everyone, regardless of gender or other group distinctions.

“It’s hard for me to imagine an award that I
would rather receive,” said Klawe, who has been featured by The New York Times, Forbes, and NPR for her efforts to close the gender gap in science and technology fields.

The ABI is “on a quest to accelerate the pace of global innovation by working to ensure that the creators of technology mirror the people and societies who use it.” The institute provides awards and grants to innovative women in the fields of technology and computing.

Klawe, the fifth president of HMC and the college’s first female president, said that she envisions the technology industry as “a place where there are all different kinds of people.” 

“I want it to be a place where, independent of all the
differences, it is a welcoming community that gives everyone a feeling of
belonging,” Klawe said.

Maggie Browning,
the dean of students of HMC, said that Klawe’s vision of an
inclusive industry is reflected in HMC’s endeavors to make the sciences
more welcoming to all groups. 

Approximately 40 percent of HMC’s computer science majors are female.

“There is no
other college that has that many women majoring in computer science,” Browning

Browning said that when the computer science department realized that young women tend
not to be as interested in programming as men are, the department changed its
introductory course so that it covers general concepts of computer science
instead of just focusing on programming.

“Students could come to understand
what was exciting in the field of computer science and why you would want to be
involved in it,” she said. “I think it’s had a profound impact on how our
female freshmen experience their exposure to computer science in college.”

Browning said that HMC has almost completely equalized the gender
ratio of the student body, bringing female representation up to approximately 47 percent. Females composed about one-third of the student body when Klawe became president in 2006, according to an article in The New York Times. 

Sarah Nichols HM ’17 said that the gender ratio contributed greatly to her decision to attend HMC. 

“Knowing Mudd
will be a place where I will be equally encouraged made it more attractive than
places like Caltech [California Institute of Technology] or MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] that have a less balanced gender ratio,” Nichols

Erica Martelly
HM ’17 said that the representation of female professors among the faculty is
welcoming for female students.

“A lot of the
engineering professors are female, and I think the school tries to gender-balance the faculty,” she said. “In the physics department there are a lot of women, so
that’s encouraging.”

on her own experiences as a woman pioneer in technology, Klawe said that she wants to advise
students to dream big and to be persistent, strategic, and open-minded.

“I think that
many times if you are a woman who is the first in her role, you want to be
incredibly independent and self-reliant,” Klawe said. “Asking for help is not
the first thing that comes to mind … but just by taking a slightly different
approach, the brick wall goes away completely, and progress is made.”

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