17 Nov Melinda Gates on diversity in tech
Melinda Gates is an American philanthropist, former Microsoft employee, and co-founder (with her husband Bill) of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. While not as famous as her entrepreneurial husband, Melinda has a pretty impressive pedigree outside of her marriage. Melinda “earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and economics from Duke University in 1986 and an MBA from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business in 1987. Shortly after graduating from college, she joined Microsoft and participated in the development of many of Microsoft’s multimedia products, including Publisher, Microsoft Bob, Encarta, and Expedia.” Despite these successes, Melinda considers opportunities in computer science to be less now than in years past.
For example, when Melinda “was in college, 37% of computer science graduates were female. Now it’s 18%.” A big reason for this, she feels, is the genderization of video games. Games became more focused on action, adventure, killing, and sports which in turn saw a drop off of female participation.
The tech industry was already male dominated, and the promotion to males in videos games only made matters worse. In addition to the computer science issue, Melinda highlighted venture capital as a community that “needs to clean up its act.”