It shouldn't be a notable event, but it is: an Apple developers conference with female executives appearing on stage. Jennifer Bailey, a 10-year Apple veteran and vice president of Apple Pay, described the new changes to the company's mobile payments system (including support for the UK) and vice president of product marketing Susan Prescott outlined the company's News app. The conference isn't over yet though, and we hope we might see more from Apple's female exec team — including former Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts.
Why does it matter? Apple's own diversity report shows that it under-represents women. Thirty percent of Apple's 98,000-strong workforce is female, but according to one analysis only three women have appeared at the company's WWDC keynotes since 2007.Two of these individuals were third-party developers and the third was the model and humanitarian Christy Turlington Burns (at this year's Apple Watch event). Apple may have thousands of female employees, but seeing even two up on stage is new.
VP of product marketing Susan Prescott showing off the News app.
Diversity reports from tech companies including Twitter, Google, Yahoo, and Facebook have made the gender and racial imbalance in Silicon Valley's workforce clear, and these firms now seem to be realizing they have a responsibility to foster role models. If the tech industry doesn't look like a welcoming place for women, then creating a diverse workforce is only going to be more of a challenge. Recent conferences by the likes of Samsung and Microsoft have also included women in a prominent and non-patronizing fashion, and it's good to see Apple doing the same.
Even for those individuals who still believe that diversity — either gender or racial — is simply a matter of political correctness, it's clear that Apple doesn't share this view. Asked in an interview with Mashable earlier this week why diversity was important issue for Apple, CEO Tim Cook simply replied: "It's the future of our company." He added: "I think the most diverse group will produce the best product, I firmly believe that."