Melinda French Gates has long chosen to focus her philanthropic energies on the cause of gender equality all over the world. In 2019, she pledged $1 billion to support that cause, but in a recent interview with Fortune magazine the former Mrs. Bill Gates gave more details about where exactly the $1 billion will be going.
The $1 billion pledge is to Pivotal Ventures, French Gates’s own investment firm founded in 2015. The stated goal for the firm is to support women and families through a multitude of investments, and French Gates told Fortune that she sees the cause divided into four main sectors: technology, finance, media, and politics. Pivotal’s goal in all four of these sectors is to “get women and people of color further along in the United States, faster.” She went on:
“You get more equity in those four industries and you will change all of society.”
Through Pivotal, French Gates has already invested hundreds of millions of dollars in more than 150 different organizations working towards that change, through both traditional investments and donations. One big focus is on gender equality in the notoriously male-dominated tech field, and French Gates acknowledges how difficult it’s going to be to change some of those ingrained practices in Silicon Valley:
“To re-create Silicon Valley or to change it would be incredibly hard. But when you’re starting fresh and new, if you start with a model in this perspective, then I don’t think you’ll replicate the old one we had in Silicon Valley.”
That’s a reference to Gender Equality in Tech Cities, one of the many initiatives being funded by Pivotal Ventures, and one that’s focused on gender equality in the tech field throughout the United States, rather than just that tech-heavy region of northern California where her ex-husband made his fortune.
French Gates also sees particular urgency in the political realm, typified by recent developments on the Supreme Court:
“We have to get more funding for female politicians at all levels, and we have to look at the barriers that keep them from getting there. Until we get women represented in all seats of power, you’re not going to have representation of society on the Supreme Court … because if you look at how Americans actually feel about Roe v. Wade, no matter which side of the aisle they’re on, what was done doesn’t represent what people believe.”
French Gates clearly feels passionate about this cause and is stepping up her philanthropic efforts in kind – now, we know a little bit more about her actual billion-dollar game plan.