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A Campus Champion for Women in Computer Science

Harvey Mudd’s president tripled the percentage of women in comp sci

As Harvey Mudd College President Maria Klawe strolled her Southern California campus recently, she stopped to talk with Lillian de Greef, a senior eager to discuss her plans to pursue a graduate degree in computer science. De Greef entered Mudd as a technology novice and, like a growing number of women at the school, she’s now fluent in multiple programming languages. “I just really enjoy learning about all this stuff, writing the code,” she says.

De Greef’s enthusiasm is a testament to the quiet revolution waged by Klawe, 60, since she arrived in 2006 from Princeton University, where she was dean of the engineering school. On her watch, the percentage of female computer science majors at Mudd, one of California’s prestigious Claremont colleges, has more than tripled, to 42 percent. Nationally, women account for 14 percent of college graduates in the field, according to the Computing Research Assn.