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On a Mission to Change the Culture of Tech

Harvey Mudd College, a small science and engineering school in Southern California, often lands at the very top of the rankings when it comes to the earnings of its graduates. The highly selective school has developed a unique curriculum that includes extensive liberal arts studies as well as a year-long “clinic” in which students work with a company on a real-world problem.

Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd, is an ebullient promoter of the school and its educational approach. But she also has a bigger mission: to make science and engineering more welcoming to women, minorities and those who simply lack confidence.

A native of Canada whose own education came courtesy of that country’s public universities, Ms. Klawe was dean of engineering and a computer science professor at Princeton before assuming leadership of Harvey Mudd in 2006. She spent eight years with International Business Machine Corp.’s Almaden Research Center and has been involved with two different tech startups. She also sits on the board of Microsoft.  

Ms. Klawe spoke to The Information earlier this month about women in technology, the unfortunate rise of “frat” culture in the business and what industry leaders need to do to change things. An edited transcript is below.

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