This is a busy time for Apple. They already have the World Wide Developers Conference and the preparation of their upcoming streaming service. But CEO Tim Cook is using this platform to expose a problem in the tech community.
That problem is the lack of diversity in tech based employment. Recently, mega tech companies gave themselves diversity report cards. Even the companies were alarmed at how few African-Americans, Latinos, and women were employed with them. Cook took at long look at his own company, Apple. He discovered just 7% of his roster are African-American, compared to 13% of the overall US population. This statistic, among others, gave Cook a wake up call, and now he’s taking action. He pledged $10 million to organizations like National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), an organization dedicated in getting girls interested in computer technology. Ruthe Farmer, one of NCWIT’s leaders, insists it’s important to teach girls technological skills at an early age. One tactic is an annual summer camp called App Camp for Girls. It teaches junior high girls how do develop apps and code software. Then there’s former school teacher Ms. Natasha Usher. She’s built apps to connect with her students. She works with World Wide Developers Conference to bring scholarships to African-Americans interested in app technology. She hit it on the head when she said, “You don’t have to be a young, white male in order to code.”
We need more people like that to combat lack of diversity in technology. Here’s another problem: ourselves. How often do we discourage girls from being tech savvy? When they want computer gadgets to improve their minds, how often do we give them dolls and make up kits instead? Or when a young African-American or Latino kid shows tech savvy skills, how often is he bullied for ‘acting white’? And we wonder why there’s a diversity problem in the tech community. Let’s encourage our kids’ dreams of building the next big app, or founding the next social media site, or incorporating the next company. Where will the next Steve Jobs come from?