Maria Klawe

Maria Klawe
President, Harvey Mudd College

Headquarters: Claremont, California
Primary Business: Education
Revenues: $56.9 million
Employees: 318

Making Science and Engineering Accessible to All

My goal in life is to make the culture of science and engineering welcoming and supportive for everyone who can contribute, independent of a person’s gender, race or other interests. In my early years as a woman working in mathematics and computer science, I often found it difficult to be taken seriously. I hid the fact that I was a serious artist because that would have made it worse. Even today, this remains an issue for women and underrepresented minorities in many areas of science and engineering. Broadening the participation of women and underrepresented groups will expand the nation’s highly skilled professionals while taking advantage of their rich variety of perspectives—enhancing creativity, problem-solving and technological innovation.

I’m thrilled to lead Harvey Mudd College, a liberal arts college of science and engineering, because our focus on educating socially responsible scientists and engineers makes HMC an ideal place to work on creating a better culture. Our small college attracts talented students from across the U.S. and the world who want a superb education combining depth in math, science and engineering with strong components of social sciences, humanities, teamwork, communication, and hands-on learning. We deeply value diversity in our faculty, students and staff because it creates a richer learning environment.

The challenge for HMC, like other science and engineering schools, has been increasing representation of traditionally underrepresented ethnicities and women in our faculty and students. Over the past 15 years we have made great progress with gender diversity. Women now make up 43 percent of both faculty and student bodies.

Our progress with computer science majors is particularly impressive, increasing from about ten percent female in 2006 to about 40 percent today. Our CS department achieved this by creating an innovative and supportive computer science curriculum, taking incoming female students to the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, and providing early research opportunities. In addition, we are now focusing on increasing ethnic diversity; in particular on recruiting more African-American students.

Leaders in science and engineering are vital to solving every major problem facing the world today. Harvey Mudd College is working hard to educate students who will become those leaders, students who represent all parts of our society.

Education: PhD, University of Alberta
First Job: Artist for Film West In Edmonton
What I’m Reading:STEM the Tide, by David E. Drew
My Philosophy: Take the time to learn to be good at the things you find difficult.
Best Advice: Fail often and openly.
Family: Husband Nick Pippenger, son Janek Klawe, and daughter Sasha Pippenger
Interests:Watercolor painting, hiking, skateboarding
Favorite Charity:Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology