Giving Women the Access Code

Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College in California, has helped reverse the vexing trend toward fewer women in computer science, and others are following.

CLAREMONT, Calif. — When Maria Klawe became president of Harvey Mudd College in 2006, she was dismayed — but not surprised — at how few women were majoring in computer science. 

A mathematician and computer scientist herself, she arrived at Harvey Mudd (the smallest of the five so-called Claremont Colleges) in the midst of a nationwide downturn for women in computer science. As recently as 1985, 37 percent of graduates in the field were women; by 2005 it was down to 22 percent, and sinking.

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