I ruffled a few feathers awhile back when I suggested that a Harvey Mudd degree is starting to mean different things for its women and male students. Reports from students who have been admitted to Mudd and turned it down spoke of how relentless the college is at encouraging women students to apply -- even going so far as to waive some SAT IIs. I have documented the persistent efforts of Harvey Mudd's President Maria Klawe to go out of her way to promote women in the sciences, to what I fear may be the exclusion of all Harvey Mudd students. You can read about that here, here, here, most famously here. No where have I had such a smoking gun case of that than in a blog post, Klawe herself wrote about networking.
She writes of how she helped a woman graduate get a job.
Another great networking example is a student graduating from Harvey Mudd College who wanted a job in Massachusetts. I offered to try to help her make connections but was a bit worried when she told me she wanted something related to public health. It’s not an area in which I know a lot of people. Then I noticed she had worked for The Aids Support Organization in Uganda the summer before and I remembered I met the director of the new Ragon Institute in Boston a few weeks before. The goal of the Ragon Institute is to find an HIV/AIDS vaccine. I contacted the director, they interviewed her and she started work there last month.
I have a hard time believing that Klaw would go out of her way to get a male student a job in a field in which she knows so few people. Let's grant that that's the case, but why then does she go out of her way to suggest a place where "technical women" can network? And what's she doing writing on the blog, Tech Her, which is the blog of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology? It isn't the first time, either.
There is, I believe, a mistaken belief that the reason men continue to make up much of the elite in science and math circles is that there is some kind of "old boys" network that continues to perpetuate itself. Klawe's response seems to be to create "girls only" club. What a shame.