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Monday, June 23, 2014, 04:51 pm PT (07:51 pm ET)

Apple joins NCWIT in push for gender balance in U.S. tech industry

At the White House Summit on Working Families on Monday, the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), with which Apple is an alliance partner, announced an ambitious program to fast track 3,500 women into the U.S. tech industry by 2016.




Apple and NCWIT have a long-standing relationship dating back some ten years to the non-profit's founding, working together on various initiatives to bring gender balance to the computing and technology industries. Today's announcement comes amid a thrust in advocacy for women to join the tech workforce.

"Inclusion and diversity are a driving force behind innovation at Apple," said Apple's vice president of Worldwide Human Resources, Denise Young-Smith. "We are proud to work with NCWIT to encourage more women to pursue careers in technology, and we hope that many of them will join the ranks of incredibly talented women engineers at Apple."

The Pacesetters program, which is the basis of NCWIT's announced commitment, brings leaders from academic, corporate and entrepreneurial organizations together to brainstorm new ideas and initiatives to steer more women into the computing and tech field.

According to the organization, Pacesetters programs range from working to push women already in college or the workforce toward technical careers (In Reach); recruiting and advancing technical women through community groups (Creating Community and Visibility); having influential business minds encourage and advocate for women (Influencing the Influencers); and steering non-technical women in the direction of technology (Tapping New Pools of Talent).

A report from NCWIT concerning the status of women in IT claims women held 57 percent of all professional occupations in the U.S. workforce in 2013, but only 26 percent of computing-related jobs.

Numerous companies are strategic partners of the Pacesetters program, including Intel, Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Cisco, among many others. As Apple is not listed as a member, it is not clear what support the company is giving for the newly announced initiative.

Apple is also a supporter of NCWIT's Aspirations in Computing Program, the only national talent development initiative targeting "technically inclined" women. Most recently, the company worked with NCWIT to promote scholarship awards for female engineers and coders to attend the Worldwide Developers Conference in April.