The Pinking of American Board Rooms

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In today’s New York Times, in an article on narrowing the gender gap on corporate boards, the name “Maria Klawe” rang a bell.  Klawe sits on two prestigious boards — Microsoft and Broadcom — and is the president of Harvey Mudd College in California. But she used to be the engineering dean here at Princeton; she got in early on what malcontents called “The Pinking of Princeton University.” Early in her presidential tenure Shirley Tilghman put Klawe in charge of the E-quad.

Klawe didn’t hide the fact that she has a different working style from the male geeks. She brought her knitting to meetings. She doodled and drew during planning sessions. And instead of allowing herself to be memorialized in an oil painting, like the other white male engineering deans at the Friend Center, she painted her own self portrait — in water color (shown above).

She left Princeton for California and now, as a member of the International Women’s Forum, mentors women on the rise. “Too often,” she said in the article, “there’s a feeling that you’ve got one or two women on the board, so you don’t need another.” Whereas there are very few women directors “and there is a lot of room for more.”

There are four engineers in my immediate family, half are women. From the stories they tell, there is plenty of room for more.

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