Women, on average, earn 77% of what their male counterparts make, and only 24 S&P 500 companies are run by women.
When Forbes came out with their list of the top 100 innovators last month, only one woman, made the list, ONE. The honor went to Barbara Rentler, the CEO of Ross Stores. The gender gap, though, extends even in our efforts to fix the gender gap, and Melinda Gates highlighted the inequality in how much we’re spending to address women’s issues in an op-ed for Time. She also pledged to put $1 billion in the next 10 years in order to create gender equality. She wrote that she believes women’s potential is worth investing in, and the people and organizations working to improve women’s lives are, too.
As it turns out, projects that support women receive fewer funds than other projects, and she writes that 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.
Even though the debates over reproductive issues receive a lot of attention, other issues not so much. She writes that 90 cents of each dollar donors spend on women is going to reproductive health, and as absolutely essential as reproductive health is, we also need to fund other unmet needs.
What she says is that programs that support abortion rights are more likely to receive funding than programs that support women in STEM, and she believes that our intellectual endeavors deserve the same amount of support as our reproductive ones.
The gender gap is closing down very slowly, and part of the reason may be the lack of financial support.
Gates pointed out in the Harvard Business Review that the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index found that, at the rate we’re going at the moment, the gender inequality gap won’t close in the U.S. for 208 years!
She portrayed a three-part plan to tackle the issues that hold women back. She wrote that first, we need to dismantle the barriers to women’s professional advancement. Second is fast-tracking women in sectors with an outsized impact on our society, including media, technology, and public office. And third, mobilizing consumers, employees, and shareholders to extend external pressure on companies and organizations in need of reform.
Melinda Gates’ $1 billion would go towards funding female-focused programs through an investment and incubation firm founded by herself in 2015, Pivotal Ventures. She says that Pivotal Ventures “works to drive social progress for women and families in the U.S.”, and the specific initiatives will be announced later.
Gates and her husband Bill Gates have a collective net worth of $107 billion, and she was named “the most powerful woman in philanthropy” by Forbes.