Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has launched a new initiative aimed at getting more women into technology fields as fewer women were in this sector which she said was not good for the society.
Melinda along with her husband Bill Gates, helps run the biggest philanthropy foundation, which has paid out almost $37 billion in grants since its inception in 2000.
However, now she wants to get back to her roots.
“Every company needs technology, and yet we’re graduating fewer women technologists. That is not good for society. We have to change it,” she said to a publication recently.
The new initiative will be separate from the foundation, with a more specific focus around women in technology.
Currently, Gates said she does not have a specific dollar amount in mind for the project, adding that she needs to gather more information.
“On this particular issue, I am in this learning mode. Then I will figure out exactly what investments I will place down,” she said.
A key focus will be education. When Melinda Gates graduated and went into the tech industry in 1987, women made up about a third of computer science graduates.
Today, less than 20 per cent of these degrees go to women — a shift Gates attributes to the rise of male-centric gamification.
But education is only the first step. Melinda Gates says programs are needed to keep women in the workplace.
A recent Glassdoor report of 534,000 employees found the gender wage gap among programmers was the highest.
Men make, on average, 28.3 per cent more than female programmers.
“There are all these hidden inequities, these biases, that men and women have bias about women working, what women should do,” she said.
“But if we don’t look at those root inequities and we don’t talk about them and make them transparent, we won’t move forward as a society. We’ll make these same intelligent capabilities that are infused in our own apps — the cognitive capabilities — available to every application developer in the world,” she added.