Clinton warns Silicon Valley going backwards

Hillary Clinton has warned there is a "real human cost" to technology, using a speech at the heart of Silicon Valley to stress its potential to automate jobs away and put pressure on the wages of ordinary people.

In her first public speech so far this year, Mrs Clinton called for better representation for women in the boardrooms of technology companies, while also talking about better working rights for the company's security guards and hourly workers in nearby San Francisco.

Speaking to a large crowd of female technology employees from companies including Intel, Cisco and Google, she technological change may have brought great progress but it had also caused "anxiety" and that America needed to focus on rising wages.

She said improved access to science and technology education and benefits for working parents would be a "win-win" for the economy.

State of diversity in Silicon Valley
State of diversity in Silicon Valley

"We are going backwards in a field that is meant to be all about moving forward," she said, pointing to the decline in the percentage of women getting computer science degrees declining since the 1980s. "We can literally count on one hand the number of women who have come here and turned their dreams into billion dollar business."

The speech broke Mrs Clinton's silence amid widespread speculation that former secretary of state and US senator for New York intends to run for the Democratic Party nomination as the presidential candidate in 2016, even though she has not declared her candidacy.

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While she has not made any significant speeches this year, Jeb Bush, the son of former president George Bush and the brother of George W Bush, has spent the last few weeks laying out his campaign message that some have dubbed 'reform conservatism', should he run for the Republican party nomination.

Mrs Clinton called on the attendees — who paid $245 for a day-long conference including the lunchtime keynote address — to help their neighbors and fellow women. "What you do doesn't have to be big and dramatic, you don't have to run for office," she said to cheers from the crowd.

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In the speech to the Lead On Silicon Valley conference, Mrs Clinton stressed her roles as a mother and a grandmother, in a new tactic designed to woo women and create excitement about the prospect of having the first ever female US President.

She spoke of her experience as a young pregnant lawyer in a firm that had never had a female partner before and had no parental leave policy.

The strategy differs from the previous occasion she ran for President in 2008, when Mrs Clinton stressed her strength and experience but shied away from presenting herself as a woman in political terms.