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Apple CEO Tim Cook talks diversity, coding, more in interview with high school senior

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently offered a few words of wisdom to high school senior Rebecca Kahn as part of a National Center for Women & Information Technology outreach program dubbed "Innovator to Innovator," which grants NCWIT Aspirations in Computing (AiC) Community members time with Apple executives.




The inaugural installment of "Innovator to Innovator," Cook's short interview came about as an assignment from Kahn's computer class teacher at Porter-Gaud school in Charleston, S.C. Kahn's task was to reach out to a person of interest in the technology industry, which she did via email.

Cook responded and conducted a brief interview by phone.

Kahn covered a few topics in her short time with Cook, picking the executive's brain on matters like women in tech, learning to code at an early age and human rights issues.

Cook reiterated past sentiment, saying children should learn to code as early as lower school. Apple itself has led efforts to insert coding into public school curriculums, and markets teaching tools like Swift Playgrounds. The company also conducts "Hour of Code" workshops for youth at its retail stores.

Cook is an advocate for more women in leadership roles, Kahn says. Apple, along with other Silicon Valley tech firms, have come under fire for a distinct lack of women executives. Though the company highlights progress in corporate diversity showcases, Apple's ranks include very few female executives.

Currently, Apple's top ranks include a handful of women, including environment VP Lisa Jackson, retail chief Angela Ahrendts and VP for Inclusion and Diversity Denise Young Smith.

Cook went on to urge Kahn to find and follow her "North Star," or higher purpose, an analogy he often cites when speaking with students or the media.

Kahn's interview ended with a query about Cook's role models. Being an NCWIT project, the Apple chief rattled off names of prominent women including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, four-star Air Force general Lori Robinson and Rosa Parks.

Additional interviews and essays featuring Apple executives are expected for release in the near future as part of the 2018 AiC Award festivities.