At its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple finally addressed one of the more glaring examples of its (self-admitted) diversity problem. Two female executives, Jennifer Bailey and Susan Prescott, took to the stage at Moscone West to introduce two of the company’s products that’ll be built into the latest versions of iOS and OS X. Apple fans and advocates of diversity in tech quickly took to Twitter to express their excitement at finally seeing Apple execs who weren’t your standard-issue white men at the event.
Bailey, who is Vice President of Apple’s online store, unveiled the future of Apple Pay, which basically turns your iPhone into a credit card. Prescott, Apple's VP of Product Management and Marketing, demonstrated Apple News, a new feature that works a lot like Flipboard, but is actually baked right into iOS.
Earlier this week, ahead of the conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted that this year’s WWDC would feature a more diverse cast of voices. In an interview with Mashable, Cook explained that Silicon Valley’s problems with diversity couldn’t just be explained away by saying that minorities and women weren’t interested in tech.
"I think it's our fault—'our' meaning the whole tech community," Cook said. "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."
Prior to this year’s WWDC, Apple struggled to bring its female leadership into the spotlight, despite many women playing active roles in much of the company’s recent success. As Gizmodo points out, prior to Bailey and Prescott’s WWDC appearances, Apple had only managed to bring six female presenters to WWDC and major product launches since 2007. Six women total in eight years of conferences and launches. Google, on the other hand, featured three female voices at its own developer’s conference last week.
Though their presence at WWDC is new, both Bailey and Prescott have been key players at Apple for some time. Before helming Apple Pay, Bailey was responsible for the online Apple stores, one of the most crucial components to Apple’s strategic launch of its products. Prescott joined Apple in 2003 as a VP of one of its creative groups, opting to leave her position at Adobe, where she’d served as a VP Product Management and Marketing.
Conspicuously missing from the entire event were any speeches given by Apple employees of color, though there were guest appearances by the McKinsey Institute's James Manyika, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and a seemingly nervous Drake, who plans to release his next album using Apple's new Connect music streaming feature.