Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Breaking Down Barriers for Women in Tech

Dr. Klawe chats with students
     Against a background of persistent high unemployment, tech jobs go begging.  These days even traditional retailers seek engineers to upgrade their websites as online sales skyrocket. Facebook recently announced a major presence in New York searching for East Coast tech talent.  The shortage of graduates in what is  known as STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math, has become a national problem, drawing the attention of the White House last fall  which sponsored its first ever science fair.  But even when brainy high school kids gravitate toward STEM courses, their interest often wanes in college.  One stubbornly undeveloped group who represent a minority in almost all areas of STEM is women.  But a nationally recognized computer scientist, mathematician and educator is determined to reverse the trend. When  Dr. Maria Klawe (pronounced Kla Vay) became president of Harvey Mudd College in Southern California five years ago, she  embarked on a strategic effort, similar to an overhaul  she led at Princeton in her former position there as Dean of  Engineering, to increase the presence of women in STEM fields.