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TMCNet:  Twitter hires Scardino after criticism of all-male board

[December 05, 2013]

Twitter hires Scardino after criticism of all-male board

(Guardian (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Twitter has hired former Pearson chief executive Dame Marjorie Scardino in the first female appointment to its board since critics rounded on its all-male lineup.

The former boss of the Financial Times' publisher acknowledged the news in what appeared to be her first tweet. "@twitter Thank you. There couldn't be a more exciting time in Twitter's history to join!" she wrote, in response to the company's announcement.

Twitter said Scardino would join the company immediately and would be a member of its audit committee. She will be given 4,018 Twitter shares over the first year of her appointment, worth $176,000 (pounds 107,000) at the current price.

Scardino, 66, became the first woman chief executive of a FTSE 100 company in Britain when she was appointed to head Pearson in 1997.

She has deep ties in media and education: Pearson owns most of Penguin Random House, a half stake in the Economist and under her tenure built one of the largest education publishing and testing businesses in the world.

Her appointment comes after Twitter faced criticism for its all-male board before its flotation last month. Stanford University academic Vivek Wadhwa told the New York Times: "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 IPO without a single woman on the board, how dare they?" The comment led to a spat in which Twitter chief executive Dick Costolo called Wadhwa "the Carrot Top of academic sources" (a reference to the US comedian). Costolo argued: "The issues are much bigger than checking any one box." Twitter's board includes former Netscape chief financial officer Peter Currie, former News Corp chief operating officer Peter Chernin and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Peter Fenton.

After Scardino's appointment, Wadhwa tweeted: "On Twitter, yes, I know easy and popular thing is to declare success and smile. But much more needs to be done . . . We don't want diversity for the sake of diversity. We want it because it improves performance, innovation, values. It's not just Twitter that needs to be called out. But they are the poster child and in the spotlight because of IPO." Twitter is not the only tech company with poor representation of women at senior levels. According to research firm GMI Ratings, about 49% of publicly traded tech businesses have no women on their boards, compared with 36% of the 2,770 largest public companies in the country.

Captions: Marjorie Scardino was the first female chief executive of a FTSE 100 company (c) 2013 Guardian Newspapers Limited.

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