At WWDC, Apple profiles efforts to invite girls into male-dominated tech, engineering jobs

Posted:
in General Discussion edited June 2015
The overwhelming majority of WWDC attendees continues to be male, but Apple its stepping up its own efforts to encourage more women--starting with young girls--to take prominent roles in tech. That included prominent stage time for female executives in leadership roles, and the featuring of GoldieBlox, an effort to interest girls in engineering careers, starting early on in the toy isle.

Apple's diverse group of WWDC scholarship winners


For years, Apple's WWDC Keynotes were largely presented by one person: Steve Jobs. As his health faltered, Jobs' presentations increasingly introduced less well-known members of his executive team, culminating in todays' keynotes delivered by a stream of individuals, virtually all of whom historically happened to be men.

This year, Apple's Keynote delegated two strategic product announcements to women: Jennifer Bailey, Apple's vice president of worldwide online stores (below), introduced new Apple Pay features, while Susan Prescott, vice president product management and marketing, detailed the debut of Apple News.

Women at WWDC15


Additionally, a large number of WWDC sessions throughout the week were presented by female engineers, reflecting the fact that Apple's percentage of women in tech-related positions is higher than many of the company's peers in Silicon Valley or the tech industry in general.

However, Apple's chief executive Tim Cook has articulated that the company still has much work ahead of it in seeking to recruit future generations of employees and ecosystem partners from anywhere talent, ambition and creativity can be found.

It's not just future generations of girls that are joining Apple in its efforts to represent diversity in its ecosystem. On its WWDC Keynote web site, Apple featured Alicia C., a developer who learned to code at the age of 51, and who now has an app to help victims of abuse.

Women at WWDC15

Cook pursues a diverse future for Apple


Asked by Mashable senior tech correspondent Christina Warren why Apple thinks its important to pursue diversity--particularly among the young scholarship winners the company invited to its conference--Cook answered, "It's the future of our company."

He added, "I view these people that I talk to today as the future generations of the company, and they will either be a part of it directly or a part of the ecosystem. And either way, when I think of Apple, I think of the whole community not just the people that have the Apple badge."

Cook also said that diversity has made Apple a "better company," noting, "I think the most diverse group will produce the best product. I firmly believe that."I think the most diverse group will produce the best product. - Tim Cook

While its easy to dismiss the lack of women in tech as being an issue of gender-based, self-selected disinterest, Cook said, "I think it's our fault--'our' meaning the whole tech community. I think in general we haven't done enough to reach out and show young women that it's cool to do it and how much fun it can be."

Cook's proactive efforts to pursue diversity as his company scouts for new employees is an ongoing effort. The barrier to inviting more women and minorities into roles in tech is not "lunatic fringe people," Cook stated, but rather, "the problem, as Dr. King said, is 'the appalling silence of the good people.'"

Cook explained that speaking out about the lack of diversity in tech can be hard, "because society unfortunately rewards the 'keep your head down approach,' but doing that won't move anything forward. It's not going to move the country forward, industries forward or companies forward. You don't solve diversity like that."

To actively incite change, Apple has pursued and funded partnerships with initiatives to shift the status quo, including the National Center for Women & Information Technology. The group's Aspirations in Computing runs a "talent development program that identifies and supports young women pursuing computing and technology disciplines," and Apple awarded nine of its members a scholarship to attend WWDC this year.

The youngest scholarship winner this year was 12, as recognized by Cook in his Keynote introduction. BuzzFeed Video published the segment "Code like a Girl," following several young scholars at this year's WWDC.

Think Audacious

In a lunchtime WWDC presentation delivered on Wednesday, entrepreneur Debbie Sterling outlined her own personal history as a women in tech, starting out as young girl who was encouraged by a female mentor to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering at Stanford University, a path she said she probably wouldn't even have otherwise considered.

Women at WWDC15


After establishing a comfortable job in her field--while observing the clear reality of how women are greatly outnumbered in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) occupations--Sterling described her personal obsession in disrupting the cultural programming of the "pink isle" for girls among kids toys, where boys are encouraged to design and build things, while girls are given toys that often focus on personal appearance and glamor.

Debbie Sterling: 'what if instead of telling a girl she looks beautiful, you tell her she looks capable?' #goldieblox #wwdc #engineering

-- Daniel Eran Dilger (@DanielEran)


She took a year off to devote her savings toward the quest of developing a line of toys that could appeal to girls, while sparking their interest in development and engineering tasks.

After being repeatedly told that her idea wouldn't sell, and finding little initial interest among toy buyers, Sterling described her efforts in finding likeminded individuals to collaborate with, who subsequently worked with her to develop a compelling Kickstarter for "GoldieBlox," a concept that encourages girls to solve engineering tasks as part of an captivating story.



Benefitting from a series of lucky breaks--many occurring under the concept Sterling called "making your own luck," or tenaciously taking the initiative to make things happen--GoldieBlox toys have found their way into over 6,000 retailers worldwide with the backing of a variety of prominent people who wanted toys like that for their own daughters.

GoldieBlox has also found its way into the virtual world with the iOS App Store title GoldieBlox and the Movie Machine, which enables girls (or anyone, really) to build a project that combines assembling a zoetrope for displaying animations with the art tools for creating simple, one-second animations that can be printed out, cut into frames and presented with the illusion of animated motion on the device.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 40
    Why don't we just let girls be girls and boys be boys and choose whatever naturally interests them. Instead of trying to political correctly push people into what we want because we in our enlightened state think it is unfair that girls don't act like boys.
  • Reply 2 of 40
    BuffyzDeadBuffyzDead Posts: 326member
    Today, and for now, "invite girls"

    Down the road, "invite women". ....but not yet, or today.
    Too soon.
  • Reply 3 of 40
    Quote:

     After being repeatedly told that her idea wouldn't sell, and finding little initial interest among toy buyers, Sterling described her efforts in finding likeminded individuals to collaborate with, who subsequently worked with her to develop a compelling Kickstarter for "GoldieBlox," a concept that encourages girls to solve engineering tasks as part of an captivating story.

     


    So what, girls need a 'captivating story' so they're interested? Sounds sexist to me. I guess girls don't possess imagination or something. :rolleyes:

     

    GoldieBlox is a lousy company whose management does whatever they want, I don't think Apple should associate with them. They stole a song they didn't have permission for, were told to knock it off, and then they pre-emptively sued the people who owned the rights?

     

    As for the utility of these toys: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jamie-davis-smith/getting-over-goldie-blox_b_3652553.html

     

    We keep being told that we should let people be who they are, yet there are a lot of women and girls being told they can't be what they want to be, because 'equality' or something.

     

    And I can't believe I'm not only linking to a HuffPo story, but two: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-abeyta/when-did-we-let-princess-become-a-bad-word_b_5310586.html

     

    Stop the pandering. I highly doubt Apple was turning minorities and women away. Quotas don't work.

  • Reply 4 of 40
    mac_dogmac_dog Posts: 668member
    just to be clear, that's girls, not women.
  • Reply 5 of 40
    inklinginkling Posts: 731member
    Others might suspect something a bit more devious is going on here. At this moment, software development is one of the best paying middle-class occupations in this country. The executives for companies such as Apple and Google are less than happy about that. The more developers get, the less they get. There's abundant evidence that's how they think.

    One illustration was that illegal anti-poaching agreement involving Apple, Google and others. Their motive was obvious. Competing would mean higher wages. Another illustration is their corporate zeal to bring in foreign workers or (as recently with Disney), to send jobs offshore where the wages are a fraction of our own.

    In short, if you're a software developer, whatever your sex, you've had ample evidence in recent years that the executives of Big Tech are not your friends. Their deeds have spoken all too loudly. These isn't their first or second attempt to drive down your wages. This is their third move to do that. They have now moved that strategy into a third arena, one that looks more politically correct than illegal anti-poaching agreements or shipping jobs overseas does.

    Keep in mind that the corporate world regards it as a truism that women as more likely to work for lower wages than men. You can argue whether that's true. It matters not. What matters is that it is regarded as true among corporate executives. When they want more women in software development, they're actually thinking, "This will force wages down and create a more compliant workforce." They can't help it. It's hardwired into how these people think. Like I said, they're not your friends. Their friends have lots of money.

    I cannot stress enough that the issue isn't whether it's true that women software developers will work for less than their male colleagues. What matters is that these executives regard that as true. They've made two moves to drive the wages of software developers down. This is their third move.

    Nor does the presence of highly visible women on stage mean anything. Loyalty to one's sex is a myth. Women executives can be as eager to force down the wages of women software developers as their male colleagues are of those of male developers. They're both driven by the same motivation%u2014greed.

    There's an old adage, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." This is Big Tech's third attempt to pull one over on software developers, both men and women. Don't fall for it. Encourage the women you know who go into software development to fight hard for high wages and put an end to that corporate truism.

    While you're at it, come up with some clever strategies to keep your jobs from being shipped overseas. This is the future we are talking about. It matters.
  • Reply 6 of 40
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Inkling View Post

    While you're at it, come up with some clever strategies to keep your jobs from being shipped overseas. This is the future we are talking about. It matters.

    They don't even do that anymore, as Disney has now shown. They import them, force the current employees to train them, and then fire the old ones.

     

    Walt would be so disgusted with what they've done with his name.

     

    (no, I'm not saying Tim is going to do this)

  • Reply 7 of 40
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,045member
    They don't even do that anymore, as Disney has now shown. They import them, force the current employees to train them, and then fire the old ones.

    Walt would be so disgusted with what they've done with his name.

    (no, I'm not saying Tim is going to do this)

    But, according to your general philosophy, finding someone to do the same job at the same quality at a lower cost should be a no-brainier for a company, no? Regardless of whether they're domestic or 'imported?'
  • Reply 8 of 40
    analogjackanalogjack Posts: 1,064member

    The first image on the video, reminded me of the Village People. I thought is this a subliminal message for girls to be gay?

  • Reply 9 of 40
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,241member
    inkling wrote: »
    Others might suspect something a bit more devious is going on here. At this moment, software development is one of the best paying middle-class occupations in this country. The executives for companies such as Apple and Google are less than happy about that. The more developers get, the less they get. There's abundant evidence that's how they think.

    One illustration was that illegal anti-poaching agreement involving Apple, Google and others. Their motive was obvious. Competing would mean higher wages. Another illustration is their corporate zeal to bring in foreign workers or (as recently with Disney), to send jobs offshore where the wages are a fraction of our own.

    In short, if you're a software developer, whatever your sex, you've had ample evidence in recent years that the executives of Big Tech are not your friends. Their deeds have spoken all too loudly. These isn't their first or second attempt to drive down your wages. This is their third move to do that. They have now moved that strategy into a third arena, one that looks more politically correct than illegal anti-poaching agreements or shipping jobs overseas does.

    Keep in mind that the corporate world regards it as a truism that women as more likely to work for lower wages than men. You can argue whether that's true. It matters not. What matters is that it is regarded as true among corporate executives. When they want more women in software development, they're actually thinking, "This will force wages down and create a more compliant workforce." They can't help it. It's hardwired into how these people think. Like I said, they're not your friends. Their friends have lots of money.

    I cannot stress enough that the issue isn't whether it's true that women software developers will work for less than their male colleagues. What matters is that these executives regard that as true. They've made two moves to drive the wages of software developers down. This is their third move.

    Nor does the presence of highly visible women on stage mean anything. Loyalty to one's sex is a myth. Women executives can be as eager to force down the wages of women software developers as their male colleagues are of those of male developers. They're both driven by the same motivation%u2014greed.

    There's an old adage, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." This is Big Tech's third attempt to pull one over on software developers, both men and women. Don't fall for it. Encourage the women you know who go into software development to fight hard for high wages and put an end to that corporate truism.

    While you're at it, come up with some clever strategies to keep your jobs from being shipped overseas. This is the future we are talking about. It matters.

    Boom. Came here to say exactly this, only not as well. Thanks. Most people will think you're nuts tho. But this is so true.
  • Reply 10 of 40
    jessijessi Posts: 302member

    My mother was a programmer. I've been in software for decades.  20 years ago there were plenty of women programmers. Grace Hopper was a pioneer and the lead on the Apollo software project was a woman.  

     

    Outside the USA there are lots of women in tech.  At some companies 30-40 percent of the programmers I work with and 50 percent of the teams are women.

     

    No company I've worked with has been hostile to women. 

     

    IF there aren't as many women in tech its because women are choosing not to go into this industry.

     

    I'm tired of fake "tech girls" going out and front running an agenda that's all politics and has nothing to do with women in tech.

     

    Most of the agenda is about making people think that men in tech are misogynistic. 

  • Reply 11 of 40
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Inkling View Post



    In short, if you're a software developer, whatever your sex, you've had ample evidence in recent years that the executives of Big Tech are not your friends.

     

    It's really your personality that determines what kind of job you're good at, more than your gender. People who are good at engineering, computer science and mathematics tend to have logical minds, the ability to deal with abstract ideas, and the willingness to concentrate on a single intellectual problem for days or weeks on end. 

     

    This is quite a rare kind of personality, and yet software is replacing a lot of industries (e.g. Mail is now an app instead of a physical letter, Camera is now an app instead of a separate device, your Music Player is now an app instead of an iPod or walkman).  

     

    So even if you found all the men and all the women with this kind of personality, and employed them all as software developers, there would still be a massive shortage, so I wouldn't worry about wages.

  • Reply 12 of 40
    redefilerredefiler Posts: 323member
    inkling wrote: »
    Others might suspect something a bit more devious is going on here. At this moment, software development is one of the best paying middle-class occupations in this country. The executives for companies such as Apple and Google are less than happy about that. The more developers get, the less they get. There's abundant evidence that's how they think.

    One illustration was that illegal anti-poaching agreement involving Apple, Google and others. Their motive was obvious. Competing would mean higher wages. Another illustration is their corporate zeal to bring in foreign workers or (as recently with Disney), to send jobs offshore where the wages are a fraction of our own.

    In short, if you're a software developer, whatever your sex, you've had ample evidence in recent years that the executives of Big Tech are not your friends. Their deeds have spoken all too loudly. These isn't their first or second attempt to drive down your wages. This is their third move to do that. They have now moved that strategy into a third arena, one that looks more politically correct than illegal anti-poaching agreements or shipping jobs overseas does.

    Keep in mind that the corporate world regards it as a truism that women as more likely to work for lower wages than men. You can argue whether that's true. It matters not. What matters is that it is regarded as true among corporate executives. When they want more women in software development, they're actually thinking, "This will force wages down and create a more compliant workforce." They can't help it. It's hardwired into how these people think. Like I said, they're not your friends. Their friends have lots of money.

    I cannot stress enough that the issue isn't whether it's true that women software developers will work for less than their male colleagues. What matters is that these executives regard that as true. They've made two moves to drive the wages of software developers down. This is their third move.

    Nor does the presence of highly visible women on stage mean anything. Loyalty to one's sex is a myth. Women executives can be as eager to force down the wages of women software developers as their male colleagues are of those of male developers. They're both driven by the same motivation%u2014greed.

    There's an old adage, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." This is Big Tech's third attempt to pull one over on software developers, both men and women. Don't fall for it. Encourage the women you know who go into software development to fight hard for high wages and put an end to that corporate truism.

    While you're at it, come up with some clever strategies to keep your jobs from being shipped overseas. This is the future we are talking about. It matters.

    So highlighting women = took our jobs? :rolleyes:

    There's a lot wrong with overt diversity celebrations: like nothing but a signal of an unhealthy obsession with the shallowest of human characteristics... but your screed is Godlyke Productions worthy.

    "Look out! Big Tech's 3rd attempt at colonization by the lizardoid aliens thru Disney themeparks coordinated by female exec-u-bot greed, and hidden in the code of the Apple software by predatory third world female software developers!"

    Nice try, David Icke.
  • Reply 13 of 40
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Jessi View Post

     

    My mother was a programmer. I've been in software for decades.  20 years ago there were plenty of women programmers. Grace Hopper was a pioneer and the lead on the Apollo software project was a woman.  


     

    So I guess the question is - where have all of the women in tech gone? Why are they leaving?

  • Reply 14 of 40
    stevehsteveh Posts: 480member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RichL View Post

     

     

    So I guess the question is - where have all of the women in tech gone? Why are they leaving?




    I doubt that they're leaving so much as the field is growing as fast or faster than new ones are coming in to tech.

     

    That, and most women are interested in other areas of employment; they're not being kept out of tech by grizzled old programmers and engineers.

  • Reply 15 of 40
    shenshen Posts: 434member
    steveh wrote: »

    I doubt that they're leaving so much as the field is growing as fast or faster than new ones are coming in to tech.

    That, and most women are interested in other areas of employment; they're not being kept out of tech by grizzled old programmers and engineers.

    No, they are leaving. Tech is so sexist as to make the regular world look like a feminist paradice. Just read the responses left to this article.

    The proof is in the everyday existance of women in tech, which is generally ignored. http://www.dailydot.com/opinion/sexism-in-tech/
  • Reply 16 of 40
    stevehsteveh Posts: 480member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by shen View Post





    No, they are leaving. Tech is so sexist as to make the regular world look like a feminist paradice. Just read the responses left to this article.



    The proof is in the everyday existance of women in tech, which is generally ignored. http://www.dailydot.com/opinion/sexism-in-tech/

    If they are, it's a very recent phenomenon. I spent 30+ years in tech, in Silicon Valley, and sexism was a lot less of an issue than some might try to make you believe. I certainly worked with enough female peers, and for enough women during that time. And the percentage of women in the development groups I worked in and with were increasing during that period, not decreasing. If any left tech positions, it was usually because they were moving up to management roles.

     

    Perhaps it all changed after 2010, but I kind of doubt it.

  • Reply 17 of 40
    Daniel, I'm curious to the ratio of other Silicon Valley tech companies and their hiring of women/minorities and what they're doing to encourage more of them in the tech field. Seems Apple is leading in this regard.
  • Reply 18 of 40
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,274member
    Daniel, I'm curious to the ratio of other Silicon Valley tech companies and their hiring of women/minorities and what they're doing to encourage more of them in the tech field. Seems Apple is leading in this regard.
    I didn't see any diversity figures included in the AI article. I imagine DED does have some that he might add. If not they're easy to find. Apple has a diversity page.
    https://www.apple.com/diversity/

    Some of the other tech's offer diversity reports you had asked about. This one is Google's blog with a breakdown and what steps they're taking to improve on the numbers
    http://www.google.com/diversity/

    Mircosoft's report and efforts are detailed here:
    https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/diversity/inside-microsoft/default.aspx#fbid=j7erZ1KJAKH?epgDivFocusArea

    The most current I could come up with right off for Facebook is here.They don't offer much in the way of what efforts are being made to do better:
    http://newsroom.fb.com/news/2014/06/building-a-more-diverse-facebook/

    While HP's is here:
    http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/globalcitizenship/07gcreport/employees/diversity/performance.html

    and Twitter reported here. Like Facebook the data is from last year.
    https://blog.twitter.com/2014/building-a-twitter-we-can-be-proud-of
  • Reply 19 of 40
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,208moderator
    richl wrote: »
    where have all of the women in tech gone? Why are they leaving?

    Google did a survey asking women about tech:

    http://static.googleusercontent.com/media/www.wenca.cn/en/us/edu/pdf/women-who-choose-what-really.pdf

    Women who were not familiar with computer science described it primarily as "boring", "difficult" and "nerdy". These words were also used by women familiar with it but other more positive terms came higher up like "fun", "interesting".

    This will be why Tim alludes to not communicating well enough about it being fun to work in tech but the same miscommunication should be true to everyone. This can be said about other industries too - the fashion, human resources, nursing and other female-dominated industries aren't immediately appealing to male employees and the percentage of men would be similar to that of women in tech, which is about 20-30%. It hasn't fallen that much according to the following document:

    http://www.ncwit.org/sites/default/files/legacy/pdf/NCWIT_TheFacts_rev2010.pdf

    The peak was around 36% women in tech back when the Wintel PCs took off and declined to just over 25%, Apple's own percentage is higher. That document also highlights some factors and mentions issues like companies not allowing flexibility for family responsibilities, which women are far more likely to take on. Accommodating family responsibilities can lead to inequality too though in making work more lenient for parents than single workers.

    Often times people make comparisons to computing decades ago but computing was largely non-existent 2-3 decades ago. The internet only took off in the mid-90s.

    Programming isn't a very social career. Women dominate in careers that have a social element to them. Fashion, nursing, HR, property and education are far more people-focused than sitting at a computer typing. This has developed a stereotype that is used to hire against:

    http://gender.stanford.edu/news/2011/researcher-reveals-how-“computer-geeks”-replaced-“computergirls”

    Programming never stops being technical either. Far more women leave mid-career than men to go to less technical roles. They make up 60% of public sector jobs. Public sector jobs are not very competitive and people can stay in those very comfortably their whole lives.

    There's an explanation here for pay inequity too:

    http://www.techrepublic.com/article/the-state-of-women-in-technology-15-data-points-you-should-know/

    "A study out of the University of Texas showed that women ask for $7,000 less than their male counterparts in job interviews."

    That matches with moving into public sector jobs because it avoids having to go through negotiations with employers. Governments fall over themselves to be seen to be hiring without discrimination and pay very good salaries compared to the private sector with as many benefits on top. Small private companies can't do that nearly so easily.

    Making everyone feel welcome regardless of gender, race, sexuality, disability etc is something every company in every industry should strive for but it's not a fool-proof method to get the desired outcomes as far as the numbers go. Sitting at a computer on your own typing to solve technical problems full-time is not a fun, interesting job to everyone.

    One thing Apple could do is branch out into different activities that include jobs women would be more interested in. If they had a small games studio for example, that would include more creative tasks like writing, artwork creation, voiceover work, motion capture, asset acquisition (photography etc). The biggest games studios only have 3-10k employees. If they hire equally then it would boost numbers for all groups so it's hard to shift the percentage points but it would probably be more effective than trying to promote programming and engineering as being fun jobs.
  • Reply 20 of 40
    kkerstkkerst Posts: 330member
    Amazing to me that no one talks about female hardware engineers. Why all the software talk - is hardware not as "sexy"?
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