In addition, CNN reports, Obama also urged the audience to get more people of colour involved in the tech industry as well. According to the National Center for Women and Information Technology, only 26% of professional computing jobs in the 2016 U.S. workforce were held by women. African American women only comprised 3% of the computing workforce in 2016.
Ride hailing company Uber was in the spotlight during Tuesday’s conference, according to CNN, namely because of the recent news that Uber investigated 215 harassment claims and fired 20 people. In response, Obama hinted at the problems with Silicon Valley’s culture.
“Girls walk away from tech and science. … There’s something about how this subject is being taught,” said Obama. “You guys are smarter than that. You’re better than that, let’s figure it out.”
In order to get more women in tech, “we have to want to,” Obama said, according to CNN. She continued: “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.'”
Although the room was mostly full of Apple developers, CNN reports that the majority of the front seats were taken by female high school students—some of whom even got to meet Obama before the talk.