Technology “will not achieve nearly what it could achieve” without a more diverse workforce, says Apple CEO Tim Cook.
In an interview with the BBC, Mr.Cook said there were “no good excuses” for the lack of women in the sector, including his own company.
He said: “I think the essence of technology and its effect on humanity depends upon women being at the table,” Mr. Cook says.
“Technology’s a great thing that will accomplish many things, but unless you have diverse views at the table that are working on it, you don’t wind up with great solutions.”
Apple had 35 percent females across its global staff in 2021, according to its own diversity figures.
It launched its original Apple Health Kit in 2014 without a period tracker – which led to accusations that this was an oversight due to male bias among its developers.
Deloitte Global estimate large global technology firms will reach nearly 33 percent overall female representation in their workforces in 2022 on average – with 25 percent occupying technical roles.
One challenge facing the sector is the lack of girls choosing to pursue science, tech, engineering and maths subjects at school.
Mr. Cook said: “Businesses can’t cop out and say ‘there’s not enough women taking computer science – therefore I can’t hire enough.”
“We have to fundamentally change the number of people that are taking computer science and programming.”
He said everybody should be required to take some sort of coding course by the time they finish school, in order to have a “working knowledge” of how coding works and how apps are created.
The BBC spoke to Ariana Alexander-Sefre, who runs Spoke, a wellness app aimed at young people, which she created after her younger brother lost a friend to suicide.
She said: “I hope that in five years, that there’s not even going be a thing of the female founder, or there’s not even going to be a defined niche because, you know, there will just be so many different people working on different things.
“I’d love to see the whole playing field just equalised.”
Mr. Cook also said he thought Augmented Reality (AR), and the concept of the Metaverse, were “profound.”
He said: “In the future people will wonder how we lived without AR.
“We’re investing a tonne in that space.”
A very simple example of augmented reality would be using your phone’s camera to place virtual furniture into the real world before you buy it so you can see how it might look in your home.
The idea of entire virtual worlds is called the metaverse, and big tech is investing heavily in it, including Meta, formerly Facebook, which changed its name to reflect its new focus.
Mr. Cook said he is “not a great role model” for work-life balance and that it isn’t a phrase he associates with himself.
He said: “There’s little distinction between personal and work; they blend.
He adds that he tries to “compartmentalise” issues that are outside of his control.
He said: “I realise that they’re there… but I don’t obsess with it.”