Twitter's new female director means Silicon Valley knows it has a gender problem

As Silicon Beat’s Levi Sumagaysay writes, some see the appointment Thursday of Marjorie Scardino to be a Twitter director as a win for the company on several fronts.

The former CEO of Pearson, Scardino has deep media experience, key as Twitter becomes more of a media company. And by appointing a female director, the company quashes the criticism that it is running a boy’s club with seven male directors at the time of its IPO.

On the women issue, Twitter’s responsiveness, including tweeting on the issue from CEO Dick Costolo when the discussion broke, is a sign that Silicon Valley firms are becoming more sensitive about the issue. As they should be.

In the mid-1990s, Apple’s board stood out for having women and brown-skinned people.  Companies have mostly moved away from wanting to reflect their customers in their leadership ranks for the experience of seasoned executives, who mostly have been men.

But time has ticked on, and as Kara Swisher at All Things D points out, women are not doing well in the Silicon Valley machinery in stark contrast to other industries.

Any gander at the variety of studies, and even a not-very-scientific look at the subject, will show that fewer women are starting companies, are being promoted at companies, are funded, are funders, are on boards, are being rewarded in the same way.

So good job Twitter for breaking the pattern a little bit.

Now it’s up to everyone else, including the bomb-throwing Vivek Wadwha, derided as the “Carrot Top” of academic sources, keep the pressure on.


Top image by LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images

Michelle Quinn Michelle Quinn (79 Posts)

Michelle Quinn is a Business Columnist at the San Jose Mercury News. Prior to her current role, she was the Silicon Valley correspondent at Politico covering tech policy and politics. She has also covered the tech industry at the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. She was a blogger for the New York Times.