Tuesday Buzz: Fix Your Event's Gender Balance

By / Jun 9, 2015 Apple executive Jennifer Bailey. (Handout photo)

Apple took a big step toward boosting diversity at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) yesterday, but the event industry as a whole has a long way to go. Also: Why the mobile-payment takeover could be closer than we all think.

Clearly, Apple CEO Tim Cook got a glimpse of this Tumblr before the company began its latest Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on Monday.

The computer behemoth had female executives participating in the keynote address at the annual event—which features a wide array of updates to the company’s operating systems, payment systems, news offerings, and even a new music service—for the first time in ages. Jennifer Bailey and Susan Prescott were actually the first female Apple execs to show up on a WWDC stage since the launch of the first iPhone. According to the LA Times, just three women (one of them being supermodel Christy Turlington) had taken the stage during an Apple media presentation since 2007.

It’s clear that gender diversity in the technology arena is becoming a big issue, but Cook appears to be working on it.

“I think it’s our fault—’our’ meaning the whole tech community,” he told Mashable‘s Christina Warren on Sunday. “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.”

But this isn’t just a problem with Apple, or even the tech industry. The speaker industry in general is struggling with this issue, as Event Manager Blog‘s Julius Solaris notes.

“White male seems to be the trend when it comes to speaker line ups at events,” Solaris observes. “Are you brave enough to change that?”

Apple appears to have gotten a good start, but it’s far from the only figure in the event space that needs to step up on this issue.

NFC’s Breakthrough Moment?

Also on the WWDC front, a big announcement in the payments sector could prove to be just the thing to finally bring mobile payments mainstream.

Apple announced an expansion of its Apple Pay system, already available at a number of retailers, but the real excitement may be thanks to Square, which said that this fall it will begin offering Square readers that support Apple Pay and use near-field communication (NFC) technology—effectively making it more attractive and simpler for merchants to offer this payment system.

Square is offering a quarter-million free readers to retail businesses. The readers also support another up-and-coming card technology, chip and PIN. This could be the turning point for accepting payments at events.

Other Links of Note

Trying to pitch a story to a news outlet? The startup Anewstip offers a great way to find someone with an interest in the subject matter—by scouring their tweets.

Interesting executive hire of the day: McDonald’s just secured Robert Gibbs, the former press secretary to President Obama, as its global chief communications officer.

Spruce up your LinkedIn profile. Blogging on Frank J. Kenny’s site, Christina Green explains how.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »


Leave a Comment