Diversity in tech is a widespread problem, and Apple is actually going to address it today. In an interview with Mashable, Tim Cook admitted that Apple needs more diversity — and hinted that today’s keynote at WWDC will feature at least one woman. Which would make this the seventh woman ever to be on the Apple stage.
In an interview yesterday with Mashable’s Christina Warren, Cook talked about the lack of women onstage at Apple events:
He smiled. “Look tomorrow,” he said. “Look tomorrow and let me know what you think.”
“I totally agree with you. You’ll see a change tomorrow.”
Apple’s propensity to put white guys onstage at WWDC is a perennial issue which keeps resurfacing in the press after every event. Last year, writer Joe Kukura watched 16 hours of WWDC keynotes (god help him) and came up with this figure: 57 men onstage since 2007. Two women.
To compare, Google had three women onstage in a single I/O keynote last week.
But the problem goes beyond just WWDC. As far as I could discern, Apple has only had four additional women onstage total, at all of its events. Ever. That includes not only all WWDC events, but also Apple keynote events that launched products like the iPhone and iPad. Here’s who those women are.
Ellen Hancock | Chief Technology Officer, Apple | 1997
Before Steve Jobs returned to Apple, Hancock was CEO of Apple and later the CTO. She took the stage at a MacWeek event in January of 1997. Michelle Cortese found this incredible photo of Hancock in a press clipping just after the event. No video from 1997 that I could fine, but here’s Hancock at a town hall in 1996, photo by Tim Holmes.
Stephanie Morgan | StarDefense | 2009
At 2009’s WWDC event, game producer Stephanie Morgan comes onstage to demo StarDefense, a new game for the iPhone. She demoes it while talking, actually playing the game while pointing out features.
Jennifer Brook | Interaction Designer, New York Times | 2010
At the official iPad unveiling event in January, Brook demoed the New York Times app for the iPad with Martin Nisenholtz, chief of digital operations for the NYTimes.com.
Tracy Pesin | Director of Mobile Engineering, MLB Advanced Media | 2010
At the same iPad unveiling event, Pesin joined Chad Evans, MLB’s director of mobile product development, to demo the MLB.com app At Bat. Pesin drove the demo live onstage from an iPad — as far as I could tell she is the only female developer who has ever done so at an Apple event.
Jennifer Herman | Director of FarmVille Mobile, Zynga | 2010
At WWDC later that year, Herman demoed FarmVille for iPhone and iPod.
Christy Turlington | Model and Activist | 2015
An the Apple event earlier this year to launch the Apple Watch, Turlington became only the sixth woman to take the Apple stage. It’s what also started grumblings in social media: surely Apple could have put one of its female developers onstage who worked on the watch instead?
As far as who will be onstage today, there are plenty of guesses at who will join the expected line-up of mostly white male speakers. Quartz predicts retail czar Angela Ahrendts. It might be Shaan Pruden, senior director of developer partnerships at Apple, and long considered to be Apple’s most powerful woman. Mashable’s Christina Warren was talking to Cook at a scholarship event for teens, so perhaps it will be a young woman who hopes to someday work at Apple.
But why stop there? Hopefully the Apple stage will show some racial and ethnic diversity as well. And it’s also not just about this keynote: according to the company’s own diversity report, Apple’s workforce is 70 per cent male. The company says it’s taking strides to be more inclusive both onstage and off, but still has a long way to go.