Melinda Gates will give AU$74.7 million in funding to help encourage more women to enter careers in technology.
Championed by the investment and incubation philanthropic company she founded in 2015 – Pivotal Ventures – the money will be used to build three tech inclusive innovation hubs across three cities in the U.S.
The Seattle-based company Pivotal Ventures has partnered with organizations and individuals in the past including The University of Illinois and SecondMuse, an organization that helps build innovation ecosystems to encourage and implement social progress in the U.S.
The three hubs, called “Gender Equality in Tech Cities” will “accelerate the representation and leadership of women in tech” and aims to increase the number of women working in the industry over the next five years.
Gender. Equality. Tech. ➡️ #GETCities is a new city-based initiative, here to generate a more inclusive, vibrant tech industry. Learn more about our vision and our first city—Chicago: https://t.co/uQfJJfImbe pic.twitter.com/VnusiJ9qN6
— GETCities (@GETCities) January 28, 2020
In an official statement, a spokesperson said the company is “building pathways and putting women on the fast-track to enter into and advance in influential sectors, such as technology, entrepreneurship, and investing, and this initiative is taking a city-specific lens to tackle that challenge.”
“As the tech industry continues to grow beyond Silicon Valley, stakeholders must actively start shaping the cultures of these emerging tech hubs to be supportive of women from the start and connecting local initiatives for women in tech that remain fragmented and sub-scale.”
Chicago has been named as the pioneer city for the three hubs, with the next two cities to be announced soon.
In 2018, Gates told Quartz at Work that the gender gap in the tech industry in the past two decades has “actually gotten worse.”
“As the tech industry continues to expand beyond Silicon Valley to other areas across the country, we have the opportunity to reimagine what the sector could look like,” Gates recently said. “If these emerging tech hubs are supported to prioritize women’s representation and inclusion as they grow, they will be better positioned to tap into the full range of local talent, while also helping create a blueprint for closing the industry’s gender gap nationwide.”
Last year, Gates outlined in Harvard Business Review the three opportunities she sees in driving change for women in technology. These included dismantling the barriers and norms around caregiving, sexual harassment & discrimination, and stereotypical representations of women, optimising women’s entry into and advancement through technology, media, and public office and obilizing consumers, employees, and shareholders to amplify external pressure on institutions in need of reform.
In a Times Op Ed last October, Gates said, “The reason the traditional pipelines into tech industries work best for men is that, intentionally or not, they were designed that way. We need to create new pathways into these industries that will open more entry points for women from all backgrounds.”