At this year’s Apple developer conference (WWDC), Michelle Obama made an appearance as a guest speaker and used her time to urge Silicon Valley to make room for women.
Mrs. Obama was introduced by Apple CEO Tim Cook and then sat down with Lisa Jackson, the VP of social, policy, and environmental initiatives for Apple. Among other things, Obama discussed the need for women and people of color in the tech world, as this has been an issue Silicon Valley has been grappling with for some time.
“Girls walk away from tech and science … There’s something about how this subject is being taught,” said Obama, as reported by CNN. “You guys are smarter than that. You’re better than that, let’s figure it out.”
Mrs. Obama’s advice for young entrepreneurs also called upon each person in the room to be a source of positive change in their own communities, rather than them immediately just reaching for a wider audience. Obama believes that starting small has huge value.
“Too many of us want to be big influencers … but we don’t want to confront our own families on stuff [we] care about. Don’t underestimate the value of what you can do in your own communities,” she said.
Mrs. Obama continued to encourage the members of her audience to use their talents in any proactive way. “This nation, this planet is going to be facing some tremendous challenges. We are in a room of problem solvers. We are in a room full of creators,” she stated. “Are you ready for that?”
Perhaps the sweetest part of the conference was the fact that, along with the Apple developers who had paid to attend the three-day conference, a majority female group of high school students filled the front row seats. They seemed enamored with what Mrs. Obama had to say, and perhaps were the exact audience that she most wanted to reach.
On including women in the tech world, CNN reported the former First Lady’s resounding words: “We have to want to. And that’s where I look to the fellas in the room and say, ‘Are you ready? Are you really ready to have women at the table? Then make room.'”
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