Melinda Gates was one of the speakers on a panel about gender parity on Friday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, with panelists including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg.
Gates concluded with a personal story about her own family, explaining how she originally became interested in computer science, and how she later set the stage for her husband, Bill, to help pass along their passion for science and math to their kids. It’s a helpful anecdote for parents and a fun glimpse into their lives.
“And the other last thing I’ll say about role models, what’s the biggest predictor of whether a girl will go into a STEM field? Whether her father believes in her. That is the biggest predictor. I didn’t realize it. I went into computer science — my dad was an engineer — because he had female mathematicians and engineers always on his team, and he believed my sister and I could be good in math and science. So what do I do at home to redistribute the workload when Bill was CEO of Microsoft and I was choosing to be home for a few years? Guess what? On Saturday mornings, I wanted to sleep late. So you know what I did? I made sure there were science projects available, and that’s what he did with our two daughters and our son. And guess what my two daughters are interested in? Science and math.”
Melinda Gates also spoke personally about an issue of bias that she has faced.
“And the second thing I would say is if you are a male in this room — and I think somebody asked earlier what can we do — get 10 men that you know who believe in women and get them to publicly speak about it. When our foundation was first formed and was being talked about in the press, Warren Buffett got asked about Bill’s participation in Bill’s foundation. And he said, “I won’t answer those press questions unless it’s about Bill and Melinda. They are doing this equally.” I’ve been asked here numerous times about Mark Zuckerberg’s new initiative with his foundation at this forum, and I say about it’s not about Mark, it’s about Mark and Priscilla. We have to all talk about this publicly, raise up women.”
Watch the full video above, and read the transcript here.