Getting On Microsoft's Board Of Directors

maria-klawe.jpg

Today, Klawe advises her students to know what they like but to ask themselves what the world needs. Klawe knew her passion, but the world didn’t need math. It needed computer science. By Victoria Pynchon (Co-Founder & Principal, She Negotiates)

Everywhere we turn these days, we’re being told that it’s imperative to our economic recovery to get women serving on Boards.

Studies tell us that three is the magic number to achieve immediate and measurable bottom line results but the She-Board needle isn’t moving. As Personnel Today recently observed:

When it [comes] to drawing up short-lists, women [are] put at a disadvantage as they were judged on their ability to “fit in” with the values, norms and behaviors of existing board members, who were mostly men.

A personage no less than the head of Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission bemoaned the fact that the “often subjective way of making [Board] appointments ends up replicating existing boards rather than bringing in talented women who could bring real benefits to individual company performance.”

Not content with the pessimistic view, I signed up for a local Women in the Boardroom event to learn how those already in leadership positions can improve the corporate person’s well-being by joining its Board.

Later, I called Sheila Ronning, President and CEO of Women in the Boardroom and Sharp Upswing Marketing & Events to follow up after a fairly intimidating panel of women told an equally impressive audience how to take this next important leadership step.

When I told Ronning about my frankly dazzled response to her panel, she stressed that not all Board members need be superstars. She’s been running Women in the Boardroom events for ten years now and says the winds are shifting as programs like hers multiply, the Europeans impose gender quotas and American women take action.

“In the early days,” Ronning said, “it was Board Membership 101 and women asking themselves whether they were interested. Today, they’re talking about corporate governance and Sarbanes-Oxley. They’re educated and they are digging in.”

That said, the first story I want to tell you is one about firsts. The first woman to serve on Microsoft’s Board of Directors, Maria Klawe.

» Read the full article at Forbes.