HomeLearning CenterMelinda Gates on Investing in the Next Generation of Female Leaders

Melinda Gates on Investing in the Next Generation of Female Leaders

Originally published by Brian Sozzi for Yahoo Finance

From Microsoft’s (MSFT) bro culture in the early 1980s to empowering the next generation of female leaders.

That sums up the last four decades of Melinda French Gates‘s leadership life.

“I think you get these industries where, when over time they become very male-dominated, then the guys expect that everybody’s going to act the way they act. And when they don’t see somebody leading or acting the way they are there, there’s pushback,” Gates shared in a new episode of Yahoo Finance’s Lead This Way.

Gates spoke to us inside the Kirkland, Wash., headquarters of her venture capital firm Pivotal Ventures, mere weeks before she stunned the philanthropic world in mid-May.

Gates, 59, announced she would be stepping down as co-chair of the Gates Foundation on June 7. She co-founded the Gates Foundation — one of the most influential organizations in global public health — alongside former husband and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates more than 20 years ago.

In a post on X, Gates said it was the right time for her to move “into the next chapter of my philanthropy.”

Through spokespeople, Gates declined to comment further to Yahoo Finance on her decision.

As part of her separation from the Gates Foundation, Gates will be provided with $12.5 billion to invest in her philanthropic endeavors.

“[The Gates Foundation] is a beautiful piece of glue in our lives and has been for a long time … We were even running the Foundation when we were having difficult times in the marriage. And I would say at times it held us together. We were even running the Foundation as we were negotiating a divorce behind the scenes that nobody knew about,” Gates told Yahoo Finance.

Gates’s next chapter

Gates’s decision to depart the Gates Foundation and devote more time to supporting women leaders shouldn’t come as a surprise.

After graduating from Duke University, she joined Microsoft in 1987 as one of the few female managers.

Though she worked at the company for nine years, Gates initially disliked Microsoft’s culture and how it influenced her leadership development.

“I loved the hard-charging pace. I loved that we were changing society. We knew we were changing the world. But I almost quit two years in because of what you call this bro culture … There was a leadership style that was very debate-oriented, just constantly debate and rough and tumble,” Gates recalled.

“I didn’t actually like who I was becoming outside of work. Like I could play the game. I knew how to play the game, I knew how to run the meeting. But then I just said, wait a minute, is this who I want to be? And it wasn’t.”

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