SAN FRANCISCO -- Answering a criticism that caused a media stir ahead of its initial public offering, Twitter named its first female director Thursday: Marjorie Scardino, a former CEO in the publishing industry who previously sat on the board of a major technology company.

In a regulatory filing, Twitter announced that the board had elected Scardino to join it, an appointment that will expire when shareholders vote on board members for the first time at Twitter's initial annual shareholders meeting next year. Scardino served as CEO of Pearson, an educational publishing company, from 1997 to 2012, after spending 12 years at media company The Economist Group, where she also served as CEO.

She also has a local tie, receiving a law degree from the University of San Francisco.

About a month before Twitter's IPO, when the social network raised $1.8 billion and saw its shares skyrocket on Wall Street, a New York Times article pointed out that Twitter had only one female among its top officials and no women on its board, which was composed solely of white males.

"This is the elite arrogance of the Silicon Valley mafia, the Twitter mafia," Silicon Valley academic and entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa said in the Times article. "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?"

That quote led to a Twitter battle between Wadhwa and Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, who called Wadhwa "the Carrot Top of academic sources" on his company's microblogging service; Carrot Top is a comedian known for performing low-brow prop comedy.

The issue was reminiscent of a backlash against social media rival Facebook, which also faced pre-IPO criticism for not having a female board member; the Menlo Park company named Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg to its board about a month after its record-breaking May 2012 IPO and has since appointed a second woman, Susan Desmond-Hellman.

Twitter congratulated Scardino with, of course, a tweet Thursday morning, which was answered by Scardino with her first tweet on the service, which said "Thank you. There couldn't be a more exciting time in Twitter's history to join!"

A Twitter spokesman declined to comment further.

Scardino's media experience could come in handy for Twitter, which has a board mostly made up of venture capital investors, co-founders Evan Williams and Jack Dorsey.

"It seems to be a relevant and helpful addition to the board based on her international experience and experience in the media business," Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Carlos Kirjner told Bloomberg. "It is of high relevance to their expansion."

Twitter stock gained $1.93, or 4.4 percent, to $45.62 Thursday.

Contact Jeremy C. Owens at 408-920-5876; follow him at Twitter.com/jowens510.