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UT Dallas CS Department Welcomes the Final Distinguished Lecturer, Dr. Maria Klawe, World Renowned Computer Scientist, and Advocate for Women in STEM

On April 8th, the UT Dallas Computer Science Department concluded its Distinguished Lecture Series with Dr. Maria Klawe, the fifth President of the Harvey Mudd College, one of the top private undergraduate schools for engineering and computer science, as its final speaker. A renowned mathematician, computer scientist and scholar, Dr. Klawe is the first woman to lead the Harvey Mudd College since its founding in 1955. 

Dr. Klawe delivered her talk titled “Getting Women into Tech Careers.” During her talk, Dr. Klawe focused on the rapid decline of the number of females in the tech industry and explored how we can improve this grim situation. One of her lifelong passions is to increase the participation of women and other under-represented groups in science and engineering, especially in areas such as computer science where their participation has declined significantly over the past three decades. She was the first woman to serve on the board as well as the first co-chair of the Computing Research Association and co-founded CRA-W (Computing Research Association – Women), the highly successful committee on the status of women in computing, which she co-founded in 1991 with Nancy Leveson.

“Over the past decade the participation of females in the tech industry has declined rather than advanced. This is unfortunate for young women because of the incredible career opportunities, for the tech industry because of the loss of incoming talent, and for society because of the loss of diversity of perspective among tech teams,” notes Dr. Klawe. 

Since becoming president of the Harvey Mudd College in 2006, the private liberal arts college has made terrific strides in creating a plan for encouraging women to become computer scientists. Under her leadership, the Harvey Mudd College dramatically increased the number of females majoring in computer science, from 10% of the majors to over 40%. 

A renowned computer scientist and scholar, Dr. Klawe is the first woman to lead Harvey Mudd College. Prior to joining the college, she served as dean of engineering and professor of computer science at Princeton University. Dr. Klawe joined Princeton from the University of British Columbia where she served as head of the Department of Computer Science from 1988 to 1995, vice president of student and academic services from 1995 to 1998, and dean of science from 1998 to 2002. Before coming to the University of British Columbia, Dr. Klawe spent eight years with IBM Research in California, and two years at the University of Toronto. She received her Ph.D. (1977) and B.Sc. (1973) in mathematics from the University of Alberta.

Dr. Klawe has made significant research contributions in several areas of mathematics and computer science, including functional analysis, discrete mathematics, theoretical computer science, and the design and use of interactive-multimedia for mathematics education. Her current research interests include discrete mathematics, serious games, and assistive technologies.

Dr. Klawe, who is a renowned lecturer, has given talks at international conferences, national symposia, and colleges across the U.S. and Canada about diversity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines and industries, gender and gaming, and lessons from her own career in STEM industry and education. She has devoted particular attention in recent years to improving K-12 science and mathematics education. Dr. Klawe is a board member of the nonprofit Math for America, chair of the board of the nonprofit Sciences Research Institute in Berkley. She is also a member of the Canada Excellence Research Chairs Selection Board

Dr. Klawe is the recipient of the 2014 Women of Vision ABIE Award for Leadership and was ranked 17 on Fortune’s 2014 list of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders. In 2015, she was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Association of Computer Science and the Achievement Award from the American Association of University Women, and was inducted into the US News STEM Solutions Leadership Hall of Fame. She has served on the board of Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology since its inception and as chair from 2003-2008. From 1997-2002 she held the IBM-NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering for British Columbia and the Yukon, and led several research studies and projects related to increasing the participation of women in computing. Dr. Klawe holds several honorary doctorate degrees in the areas of science and mathematics.

Dr. Maria Klawe & WWC members April 2016

Dr. Maria Klawe (center), Dr. Linda Morales (right), and members of the UT Dallas Women Who Compute (WWC) Club


About the UT Dallas Computer Science Department

The UT Dallas Computer Science program is one of the largest Computer Science departments in the United States with over 1,600 bachelor’s-degree students, more than 1,100 master’s students, 160 PhD students, and 80 faculty members, as of Fall 2015. With The University of Texas at Dallas’ unique history of starting as a graduate institution first, the CS Department is built on a legacy of valuing innovative research and providing advanced training for software engineers and computer scientists.

*Header Photo Courtesy of LA Weekly / Ryan Orange*