Melinda Gates Invests in Female-Led Startups to Overcome 'Bro Culture' in Tech

By Thea Felicity

May 23, 2024 10:29 AM EDT

US philanthropist Melinda French Gates delivers a speech as he takes part in a round table to discuss global economy during the New Global Financial Pact Summit at the Palais Brongniart in Paris on June 22, 2023. Dozens of global leaders are gathering in Paris on June 22 for a summit to tease out a new consensus on international economic reforms to help debt-burdened developing countries face a growing onslaught of challenges, particularly climate change.
(Photo : LUDOVIC MARIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

In a recent interview with Yahoo Finance, Melinda French Gates discussed her experiences with Microsoft's male-dominated culture and her commitment to empowering female leaders. She shared insights from her four-decade-long career and noted how the "bro culture" at Microsoft in the 1980s influenced her leadership style.

Speaking from her venture capital firm, Pivotal Ventures, and her over 20 years of experience with the foundation she shared with Bill Gates, Melinda stepped down as co-chair of the Gates Foundation on June 7, which VCPost earlier reported so that she could focus on new philanthropic projects. Approximately $12.5 billion was allocated for this purpose.

Reflecting on her time at Microsoft, Gates recounted how she almost quit due to the aggressive, debate-oriented culture. Instead, she chose to stay and lead differently, attracting talent that didn't fit the tech giant's rough-and-tumble mold.

READ NEXT: Gates Foundation Partners With Novo Nordisk and Wellcome Trust in $300 Million Initiative to Advance Global Health Research

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

In 2000, Melinda Gates co-founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to address global health inequities. Later, in 2015, she launched Pivotal Ventures to invest in female-led startups. 

Despite efforts, women-founded companies received less than 2% of VC funding in 2022, with Black and Latino women founders getting just 0.1%.

Pivotal Ventures has invested in over 150 organizations, including Ellevest and the National Partnership for Women & Families. Gates emphasized that the "bro culture" still hinders female startups and companies, with 72% of women in tech reporting experiences of it.

Looking ahead, Gates expressed her hope for a new generation of diverse leaders, with more women and people of color on top. 

READ MORE: Melinda Gates Resigns as Co-Chair of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

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