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Twitter Board Controversy Shows Depth Of Gender Gap In Silicon Valley

Publication Date: 
December 06, 2013
Source: 
Time
Author: 
Verne Kopytoff

Rock Center fellow Vivek Wadhwa comments on Twitter's appointment of a female board member and what it means for women in Silicon Valley in the future for Time. 

You’d never know that women make up half the population from peeking inside Silicon Valley’s boardrooms. Nor could you tell from sitting in on meetings with rank and file programmers. Men dominate in the technology industry, literally and figuratively.

That imbalance was hammered home this week when Twitter appointed its first female board member. Marjorie Scardino, a former chief executive of Pearson, publishing giant, brings a wealth of media experience to the online messaging service. Her appointment eases some of the pressure on Twitter, which had recently become a target of intense criticism for its all-male board. But the episode also highlights how far Silicon Valley still has to go to close its gender gap.

“Silicon Valley has a sexist arrogant culture, and this brought it to the surface,” said Vivek Wadhwa, a fellow at Stanford’s Rock Center for Corporate Governance and a frequent critic of the technology industry’s hiring practices. “We’re not in the 1960s anymore.”

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Achieving gender equality in the technology industry will take some time, everyone interviewed agreed. The debate over Twitter and the makeup of its board helps, however, by putting a spotlight on the issue of women in technology. Wadhwa, the Stanford fellow who is also vice president of research and innovation at Singularity University, said a dozen executives have contacted him for advice. It’s a good sign, he concluded.

“It’s got them thinking,” he said. “Mission accomplished.”