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Apple responds to Silicon Valley gender gap, sends recruiters to 'Women in Computing' conference

In a bid to even the Silicon Valley gender gap, Apple, along with other big-name tech companies, sent "hundreds" of employees to recruit students attending this year's Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference.

As part of what is becoming an industry wide push toward workplace diversity, recruiters and other personnel from Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft are in Phoenix, Ariz. to attend the three-day event, reports Bloomberg.

The conference, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, is named in honor of Grace Hopper, a pioneering computer scientist credited with developing COBOL, one of the world's first modern computer programming languages. According to the publication, a gender gap at many Silicon Valley companies has driven attendance to a record 8,000 people, including academics, corporate players and students.

Starting in May, tech giants like Google, Facebook and Apple released corporate transparency reports, offering detailed employee breakdowns for the first time ever. Among ten tech companies that issued reports, women held between 10 percent and 27 percent of technology-centric jobs, Bloomberg said.

In August, after receiving criticism from human rights groups for having a lack of diversity among top executives, Apple revealed that 70 percent of its 98,000 global employees are male. At the time, CEO Tim Cook said he was not satisfied with the numbers, but pointed out that Apple is working to improve conditions.

"Our definition of diversity goes far beyond the traditional categories of race, gender, and ethnicity. It includes personal qualities that usually go unmeasured, like sexual orientation, veteran status, and disabilities," Cook said in an open letter on diversity. "Who we are, where we come from, and what we've experienced influence the way we perceive issues and solve problems. We believe in celebrating that diversity and investing in it."

Cook went on to name new female executives like SVP of Retail Angela Ahrendts, environmental chief Lisa Jackson and head of global HR Denise Young-Smith. Apple also posted Susan Wagner to its board of directors in July.

As for new female hires, Apple in June announced it was working with the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) on the non-profit's Pacesetters program, which looks to fast track 3,500 women into the U.S. tech industry by 2016.