Is Marjorie Scardino a Good Choice for Twitter’s First Female Board Member?

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Media reaction to her appointment ranged from applause and ‘about time,’ to questions over Scardino’s less than active presence on Twitter.  

By Jessica Stillman (Editor, Women 2.0)

Twitter announced yesterday that is was appointing former media executive Marjorie Scardino to its board following a firestorm of criticism about the lack of women on its leadership team. What did commentator’s make of the choice of Scardino, who previously led educational publisher Pearson as CEO from 1997 until 2012?

Some applauded Twitter’s step towards increased diversity if not the speed with which it came or the particular woman chosen (“Well all that bitching and moaning paid off,” commented an unimpressed Barb Darrow on GigaOM, adding “it’s hard not to see this as window dressing”). Others were far more positive, noting Scardino’s successful tenure at Pearson. “She’ll bring a lot more to the boardroom than girly anatomy,” writes BloombergBusinessweek.

Many outlets also set about reading the tea leaves as to what the choice might say about Twitter’s plans. She is an old hand in the traditional media business and may help the company reach out to media organizations and advertisers. “Ms. Scardino’s background should certainly help Twitter with its global expansion plans and its efforts to encourage use of the service by the media, including news organizations around the world… and as the leader of one of the world’s largest publishing companies, she certainly got to know some of the biggest advertisers on the planet,” the New York Times points out.

CEO Dick Costolo said the company valued her international experience: “Marjorie brings so many of the areas we felt like [we needed]: International, global operating expertise, media.”

Just One Tweet?

But while she may have deep media experience, one thing she clearly isn’t very familiar with is tweeting. Her first tweet ever expressed her excitement at joining the company.

@twitter Thank you. There couldn’t be a more exciting time in Twitter’s history to join!

— Marjorie M Scardino (@marjscar) December 5, 2013

 

But as Quartz notes, she isn’t the only member of the board who rarely tweets. “It turns out that most of Twitter’s other board members also use the service sparingly—that is, the board members who aren’t founders (Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams) or currently running the company (CEO Dick Costolo),” writes Jason Karaian.  So perhaps her lack of passion for the platform isn’t as remarkable as it first appears.

She may not have much tweeting experience under her belt, but one thing Scardino does have is a track record as a champion of women in executive positions. The LA Times reports that “Scardino has been outspoken about the dearth of women on company boards. When she stepped down from Pearson in October 2012, the Telegraph reported, she said she wished she had effected more change in the gender balance at the company.”

What do you think of Twitter’s choice?

Jessica Stillman (@entrylevelrebel) is an editor at Women 2.0 and a freelance writer with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She writes a daily column for Inc.com, contributes regularly to Forbes and has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM and Brazen Careerist, among others.