Twitter's Board (Finally) Welcomes Its First Female Member

By Jacqueline Lee December 05, 2013

Twitter finally put a chip in its glass ceiling by adding former Pearson CEO Marjorie Scardino to its board. Scardino will also join Twitter's audit committee, and the appointment is effective immediately.

Scardino will be the first female member of Twitter's boys' club, which formerly consisted of an all white-male board and an all-male investor group. Vijaya Gadde, Twitter's general counsel, and Janet Van Huysse, Twitter's VP of human resources, are Twitter's only female executive officers.

In early October, Twitter Dick Costolo dismissed a New York Times article about the lack of women on Twitter's board. In the article, Vivek Wadwha, a Stanford Rock Center for Corporate Governance fellow, told reporter Claire Cain Miller, "This is the elite arrogance of the Silicon Valley mafia, the Twitter mafia. It’s the same male chauvinistic thinking."

Costolo tweeted this response to the quote: "Vivek Wadwha is the Carrot Top of academic sources." After facing a strong backlash on Twitter, Costolo relented somewhat, tweeting: "I *think* I have an acute understanding of the topic & host of related issues. Of course, proof is in deeds."

By adding Scardino, Twitter's board has initiated the first of what will hopefully be many "deeds." Of course, Scardino tweeted when she accepted the position. She had not used Twitter before, so her acceptance tweet was actually her first tweet ever:

Twitter's main priority is to monetize its micro-blogging platform, so Scardino's international media connections, in addition to her experience, should prove beneficial.

In addition to heading up Pearson, Scardino was CEO of media company The Economist Group and served on Nokia's board of directors. As CEO of Pearson, a huge global publishing company, she developed extensive contacts among the world's major advertisers.

Twitter's woman troubles have encompassed more than its executive leadership. In August, Twitter representatives were called before a U.K. Parliament committee to report how the company planned to address misogynist trolls that were threatening women in the public eye with rape and violence.

Although Twitter added a "Report Abuse" button to all tweets, an advisor to U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, Claire Perry, said that the company should do more to respond to threats of murder and assault.

"People post abuse about how they would like to rape you and kill you because they think you don’t know who they are," Perry said. "If there was some way of the company knowing and being prepared to verify that identity and to show you that identity was verified, I think it would lead to a diminution in that sort of behavior."

Edited by Alisen Downey

Contributing Writer

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