There has been a long running controversy over the perception, and probable reality, of institutionalized sexism at Twitter, due to a lack of women in high ranking positions. And now the company has finally, FINALLY, decided to actually do something about it.
In an effort to shed the image that it is running a boys club, Twitter has appointed former Pearson CEO Marjorie Scardino to its board of directors, it was revealed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Scardino will be on the board effective immediately, and will serve until at least until the company holds its annual meeting of stockholders in late 2014. In addition to joining the board, Scardino was also appointed as a member of the audit committee of the Board, replacing David Rosenblatt.
As a board member, Scardino was granted a restricted stock unit award of 4,018 shares, which will vest quarterly over the course of a year.
Scardino served as CEO of Pearson from 1997 to 2012. Prior to that she spent 12 years at The Economist Group, serving as Chief Executive Officer. Scardino also served on the board of directors of Nokia Corporation from 2001 to April 2013.
The news was also revealed in a tweet on Thursday, to which Scardino expressed her excitement at the opportunity.
@twitter Thank you. There couldn't be a more exciting time in Twitter's history to join!— Marjorie M Scardino (@marjscar) December 5, 2013
The issue of the lack of women on the board of directors at many of Silicon Valley's top companies, including Twitter, has been talked about for years now, but the issue reared its ugly head earlier this year after a snarky tweet from Dick Costolo, which seemed to try to downplay the issue of the lack of female representation.
It started when technology entrepreneur and academic Vivek Wadhwa called out Twitter and other Silicon Valley companies for their exclusion of women:
“This is the elite arrogance of the Silicon Valley mafia, the Twitter mafia. It’s the same male chauvinistic thinking. The fact that they went to the I.P.O. without a single woman on the board, how dare they?" he wrote.
Dick Costolo replied to Wadhwa's comments with this: “Vivek Wadhwa is the Carrot Top of academic sources.”
The fact that Costolo seemed to be brushing off what was, no doubt, a valid criticism caused an uproar, combined with a flyer that was found soon after in the women's bathroom showing a busty St. Pauli Girl cartoon, caused a major uproar.
The company was being accused of running what amounted to a boys club, and it was making it hard to see it any other way.
Perhaps sensing that this was a battle that it simply could not win by digging in its heels, the company promised to add a woman to its board of directors after it went public. And that is exactly what it has done.
Now, will this end the problem of sexism and the lack of women in high-ranking positions in Silicon Valley? Obviously it will not. It probably won't even end the culture at Twitter that would allow the putting up of such a flyer to seem like a good idea.
But it is a step in the right direction, and will hopefully lead to even more women being appointed in the coming years.
Some of the biggest companies in the Valley, including Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Apple, Zynga, LinkedIn and eBay have all added female board members in recent years.
So, welcome to the club, Twitter. I guess late is better than never.
(Image source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk)