No matter the venue, everybody knows the line for the women’s bathroom is always longer. Unless, of course you’re at a tech conference. Then the women’s nonexistent restroom line is a literal—if not very funny–punchline for an event that still mostly involves dudes. Exhibit A: Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, held this year from June 8 to June 12 in San Francisco.
Apple might have had more female presenters on stage this time around, but as both ABC7’s Jonathan Bloom and Quartz’s own Alice Truong noted, not that much has changed when it comes to conference attendees.
While Silicon Valley’s apparent inability to attract and retain qualified female candidates isn’t exactly new information, the WWDC bathroom line is a particularly apt metaphor for the tech industry because it has remained practically unchanged for the past three conferences. Here’s what the WWDC bathroom line looked like in 2014:
And in 2013:
In the face of almost comical disparities, a growing number of tech companies—including Apple—are at the very least starting to acknowledge the problem. Indeed, last year Apple joined a number of other tech companies that publicly shared their company’s gender and racial/ethnic breakdowns for 2014. While slightly better than other key Silicon Valley companies, only one in five Apple employees globally in tech is a woman, and a mere 28% of the company’s leadership are women.
Cook has taken some responsibility for this lack of diversity in tech. “I think it’s our fault—’our’ meaning the whole tech community,” he told Mashable in the run-up to this year’s event. “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.”
One solution is to work harder to help young people gain access to computer science and coding classes, initiatives that tech companies are finally starting to invest in. And Apple recently committed $10 million to the National Center for Women and Information Technology. But the industry will need to continue increasing its commitment if it is going to seriously address its blatant gender divide.
Apple declined to provide Quartz with the gender breakdown for the WWDC conferences.
Quartz deputy Ideas editor Meredith Bennett-Smith contributed to this story.