Women Make News At Apple’s Annual Developers Conference

By Tracey Lien
Los Angeles Times.

Apple Music, new operating systems and a smarter Siri were front and center at Apple Inc.’s Worldwide Developers Conference, but it wasn’t a new product that got people talking, it was women.

During Monday’s keynote presentation, Jennifer Bailey, Apple’s vice president of Internet services, and Susan Prescott, vice president of product marketing, took the stage to announce new developments with Apple Pay and a news reading app. It was the first time that Apple has had female executives on stage at any of its major events since at least the launch of the first iPhone in 2007.

In recent years, Apple has been criticized for parading out only top male executives at its iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and WWDC events, particularly as Silicon Valley as a whole dealt with gender disparity and discrimination issues.

For a company as high-profile as Apple, which has only had three women on stage at its news conferences since 2007 (two of whom were third-party developers, and one was supermodel Christy Turlington), members of the tech community described the move as a huge development.

“It’s very significant because you have a very well-intentioned and purposeful effort on the part of a tech giant to raise the profile of their female executives at their premier public event,” said Jonathan Sposato, an angel investor, serial entrepreneur and chief executive of photo-editing service PicMonkey.com. “They’re trying to do the right thing.”

Apple released data last year that revealed women account for only 30 percent of its 98,000 employees. Of its engineers, women make up only 20 percent. And of its last seven news conferences, nearly every speaker on stage was a white man. Against this backdrop, Monday’s news conference was noticeably different.

Of course, having women on stage doesn’t necessarily improve Apple’s ratio of women to men within the company, Sposato said.

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