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Apple CEO: Without More Women Hires, ‘US Will Lose Leadership In Tech'

Apple CEO: Without More Women Hires, ‘US Will Lose Leadership In Tech'

It’s no secret that we need more women in tech, but Apple CEO Tim Cook recently weighed in on just how important it is to close the gender gap in STEM fields. In an interview with The Plainsman, the student newspaper at Auburn (Cook’s alma mater), Cook declared, “I think the U.S. will lose its leadership in technology if this doesn’t change."

“Women are such an important part of the workforce,” Cook added, “if STEM-related fields continue to have this low representation of women, then there just will not be enough innovation in the United States. That’s just the simple fact of it."

We know that many companies, Apple among them, are making big strides to bring more women into tech jobs. In addition to prioritizing diversity and inclusion in hiring practices, Apple chooses to partner with organizations share similar values, including Women Who Code, Black Girls Code, Girl Develop It, National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), CODE2040, and TECHNOLOchicas.

[Related: 3 Ways Women of Color Can Get Ahead in Tech]

Other employers have announced major objectives with equality in mind. GE’s gender diversity targets, for instance, include having 20,000 women in STEM roles by 2020, as well as 50:50 female/male representation in each of its technical entry-level programs.

Square, a fintech company, has cultivated a wonderful community of women engineers and also hosts a Code Camp for college-aged women; Zynga’s Women at Zynga group embodies the gaming company’s commitment to gender diversity; and Ericsson, a company that’s striving to have 30% of all employees be female by 2020, is currently hosting an incredible “Girls Who Innovate” competition that aims to get young girls motivated to study STEM subjects.

Still, many Silicon Valley companies have been struggling to repair their reputation after sexual harassment allegations and reports of widespread sexism have surfaced this past year.

And so, as Cook emphasizes, there remains an urgent need to address discrimination and inequality and to strive for more diversity in the U.S. workforce. "If somebody has a strong opinion that diversity isn’t important, I’d encourage them to listen and allow for [the idea that] they might be wrong," Cook told The Plainsman. "My strong belief that people who do that will come to the conclusion that it is incredibly important. No matter how they look at it."

[Related: Gender Diversity: Are We Asking the Right Questions?]

He adds that embracing diversity is particularly important in STEM-related jobs: "The job growth in STEM fields will outpace all other by a fair amount for the foreseeable future," Cook said. "The reality is, you'll end up having a whole set of jobs that aren't filled. You'll lose [a] talented workforce that should exist. I think it’s imperative for the whole country to get behind changing that."

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