Melinda Gates wants to see more women in power and she's pledging $1 billion to make it happen

The gender gap is so wide, you could probably fall into it. Women make, on average, 77% of what their male counterparts make. Only 24 S&P 500 companies are run by women, and when Forbes came out with their list of the top 100 innovators this September, a whopping total of one woman made the list. Barbara Rentler, the CEO of Ross Stores, got the honor. But the gender gap, oddly enough, extends into our efforts to fix the gender gap. In an op-ed for Time, Melinda Gates highlighted the inequality in how much we're spending to address women's issues. She also pledged to put $1 billion over the next 10 years towards creating gender equality. "I believe that women's potential is worth investing in—and the people and organizations working to improve women's lives are, too," she wrote in Time.

It turns out, projects that support women receive less funding than other projects. "Data from Candid's Foundation Directory Online suggests that private donors give $9.27 to higher education and $4.85 to the arts for every $1 they give to women's issues," wrote Gates. First we make less, now this?


Debates over reproductive issues have been getting a lot of ink. Other issues not so much. "90 cents of each dollar donors spend on women is going to reproductive health. As absolutely essential as reproductive health is, we also need to fund other unmet needs," notes Gates. In other words, programs that support abortion rights are more likely to receive funding than programs that support women in STEM. Our intellectual endeavors deserve the same amount of support as our reproductive ones.

RELATED: Watch Michelle Williams' positive, impassioned Emmy speech on women and equal pay

The gender gap is closing slowly, and the lack of financial support many initiatives receive might be a reason why. In the Harvard Business Review, Gates pointed out that the World Economic Forum's Gender Gap Index found that, at the rate we're going, the gender inequality gap won't close in the U.S. for 208 years. In comparison, it will take 74 years to close in England, and 51 years to close in Canada. We've got some catching up to do.

Gates delineated a three-part plan to tackle the issues holding women back. "First, dismantling the barriers to women's professional advancement," she wrote. "Second, fast-tracking women in sectors with outsized impact on our society—like technology, media, and public office." Last but not least, "Third, mobilizing shareholders, consumers, and employees to amplify external pressure on companies and organizations in need of reform."

RELATED: 'Crazy Rich Asians' co-writer Adele Lim walks away from sequel because she wasn't getting paid as much as a white man

Gates' $1 billion will go towards funding and growing female-focused programs through Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation firm founded by Gates in 2015. According to Gates herself, Pivotal Ventures "works to drive social progress for women and families in the United States." The specific initiatives will be announced later.

Gates and her husband, Bill, have a collective net worth of $107 billion. She was named "the most powerful woman in philanthropy" by Forbes because of her work as the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Women's initiatives deserve to be taken seriously as other initiatives. Here's to closing the gender gap in every which way it exists.

True
Frito-Lay

Did you know one in five families are unable to provide everyday essentials and food for their children? This summer was also the hungriest on record with one in four children not knowing where their next meal will come from – an increase from one in seven children prior to the pandemic. The effects of COVID-19 continue to be felt around the country and many people struggle to secure basic needs. Unemployment is at an all-time high and an alarming number of families face food insecurity, not only from the increased financial burdens but also because many students and families rely on schools for school meal programs and other daily essentials.

This school year is unlike any other. Frito-Lay knew the critical need to ensure children have enough food and resources to succeed. The company quickly pivoted to expand its partnership with Feed the Children, a leading nonprofit focused on alleviating childhood hunger, to create the "Building the Future Together" program to provide shelf-stable food to supplement more than a quarter-million meals and distribute 500,000 pantry staples, school supplies, snacks, books, hand sanitizer, and personal care items to schools in underserved communities.

Keep Reading Show less

Biases, stereotypes, prejudices—these byproducts of the human brain's natural tendency to generalize and categorize have been a root cause of most of humanity's problems for, well, pretty much ever. None of us is immune to those tendencies, and since they can easily slip in unnoticed, we all have to be aware of where, when, and how they impact our own beliefs and actions.

It also helps when someone upends a stereotype by saying or doing something unexpected.

Fair or not, certain parts of the U.S. are associated with certain cultural assumptions, perhaps none more pinholed than the rural south. When we hear Appalachia, a certain stereotype probably pops up in our minds—probably white, probably not well educated, probably racist. Even if there is some basis to a stereotype, we must always remember that human beings can never be painted with such broad strokes.

Enter Tyler Childers, a rising country music star whose old-school country fiddling has endeared him to a broad audience, but his new album may have a different kind of reach. "Long Violent History" was released Friday, along with a video message to his white rural fans explaining the culminating track by the same name. Watch it here:

Keep Reading Show less
True

$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


The legality of abortion is one of the most polarized debates in America—but it doesn’t have to be.

People have big feelings about abortion, which is understandable. On one hand, you have people who feel that abortion is a fundamental women’s rights issue, that our bodily autonomy is not something you can legislate, and that those who oppose abortion rights are trying to control women through oppressive legislation. On the other, you have folks who believe that a fetus is a human individual first and foremost, that no one has the right to terminate a human life, and that those who support abortion rights are heartless murderers.

Then there are those of us in the messy middle. Those who believe that life begins at conception, that abortion isn’t something we’d choose—and we’d hope others wouldn’t choose—under most circumstances, yet who choose to vote to keep abortion legal.

Keep Reading Show less
@frajds / Twitter

Father Alek Schrenk is known as one of the "9 Priests You Need to Follow on Twitter." He proved his social media skills Sunday night after finding a creepy note on a parked car and weaving a lurid Twitter tale that kept his followers on the edge of their pews.

Father Schrenk was making his nightly walk of the church grounds to make sure everything was fine before retiring to the rectory, when he found a car parked by itself in front of the school.

Curious, he looked inside the car and saw a note that made his "blood run cold" attached to the steering wheel. "Look in trunk!" the note read. What made it extra creepy was that the two Os in "look" had smiley faces.

Keep Reading Show less