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Melinda Gates Wants to Make Tech More Inviting to Women of Color

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Work is only one place where women of color face gender discrimination. Coalitions like “Rebooting Representation” are working to boost diversity and create safe spaces for underrepresented women. You can join us in taking action on this issue here.

Philanthropist Melinda Gates wants to change the shortage of women of color working in tech.

Gates will lead a group of a dozen tech companies to try doubling the amount of women of color who graduate with computer science degrees by 2025, Quartz reports

Take Action: Sign the petition calling on influential companies to support women-owned businesses.

The coalition is only one of Gates’ many efforts to end extreme poverty by closing the gender gap.

“They may or may not be thinking about careers in tech yet. But it matters that tech is thinking about them,” Gates wrote in a statement, referring to the women who serve to benefit most from the initiative. 

Members of the coalition were inspired by a report called “Rebooting Representation,” released Wednesday by consulting firm McKinsey & Company, in collaboration with Gates’ investment and incubation company Pivotal Ventures. Researchers looked at how much some tech companies like Google and eBay invested in closing the gender and race gap over the span of 25 years.

The coalition decided to focus on making computer science more appealing to women of color, after the report found the number of black, Latinx, and Native American women graduating with computing degrees has dropped by a third in the past decade, from 6% to 4%. Researchers noticed companies usually didn’t invest money into college-aged women, but they should. 

After seeing the disappointing results of McKinsey’s report, 12 out of 32 major companies that participated in the study — such as Adobe, Dell, Intel, Microsoft, Best Buy, and LinkedIn — banded together to take on the issue. 

Read More: Bill Gates Just Gave $100 Million to Impoverished US Schools

Collectively, the coalition has already agreed to donate $12 million to fund the project and will continue strategizing to make the tech industry look more diverse. They’ll also work to build supportive networks for women of color in tech that exist outside of school. 

The report is available for other tech companies that don’t know where to start promoting and supporting diversity (and there are plenty that need it). A guide included in the report recommends coordinating diversity pushes with other businesses and includes how to evaluate success.

“It’s no secret that women are still severely underrepresented in tech at every stage of the pipeline,” Gates wrote on Twitter Wednesday. "And many tech companies acknowledge that they have a lot to gain by making diversity a priority. But as a philanthropist, I’m even more interested in what they can contribute."

Disclosure: Melinda Gates is the co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a funding partner of Global Citizen.

Editor's note: This piece has been updated to include a disclosure that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a funding partner of Global Citizen. We regret the oversight.