Melinda Gates inspires women in the workplace

Today on Facebook one of my friends decried that “women have tolerated a lot of inappropriate behavior” in the workforce and that the current expulsion of accused men from the workforce is “proportionally understated.” What’s interesting about that? She is a Ph.D.-educated prime working age childless American who quit her career after marrying a rich guy whom she had described as “unattractive.” So she’s passionate on the subject of how women are treated in a labor force of which she is no longer a member.

On a related note, Sheryl Sandberg linked to “Melinda Gates: The World is Finally Listening. Me too. Me too. Me too.” (TIME), noting that “This is such an important piece from my friend Melinda Gates. Stories about sexual harassment and assault … affect women all over the world, from every walk of life.” Here’s what Melinda Gates herself had to say:

2017 is proving to be a watershed moment for women in the workplace and beyond. Instead of being bullied into retreat or pressured into weary resignation, we are raising our voices—and raising them louder than ever before.

What workplace is Melinda Gates in? She is co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (executive team). There is one person at the enterprise who is nominally at the same level, but this is her husband and she may in fact be his supervisor (see “How Melinda and Bill Gates shared school drop-off duty, and changed a community in the process” for how Melinda got Bill, then CEO of Microsoft, to do kid drop-offs and pick-ups (at the time Melinda had no W-2 job)). If there are people at the foundation who are bullying her, why doesn’t she fire them? (or maybe assign them to work with Ebola victims in Africa)

we have been taught that being born female comes with a cost.

What cost did Melinda Gates incur as a result of being female? She was able to gain roughly $100 billion in spending power by marrying Bill Gates, so wouldn’t our first guess be that she would be $100 billion poorer if she’d been born male? Perhaps she is saying that she have obtained more spending power by working if she had been born a man. Wikipedia says that she has a bachelor’s in CS and an MBA. So she thinks she could have earned at least $101 billion with these credentials? Or is she saying that, had she been born as a man she/he would have persuaded Bill Gates to enter into a same-sex marriage so she would still have had the $100 billion in spending power from the marriage plus additional spending power from W-2 labor? (But Melinda Gates got married in 1994 and same-sex marriage was not possible prior to 2004 (Massachusetts).)

[Also, why is sex at birth relevant in our transgender-friendly age? Why isn’t it “identifying as female comes with a cost”?]

Melinda Gates is looking forward to justice in the future:

I hope that her words are this year’s legacy—and that there will always be women to talk to and ears to hear. Because if there are, then justice will finally be served for all of us.

She includes herself in “us,” I think, but doesn’t explain what injustice she has personally suffered.

With Sheryl Sandberg and Melinda Gates as their champions, and armed with a full understanding of their day-to-day challenges, can women all of the world now expect a brave new world of justice?


20 thoughts on “Melinda Gates inspires women in the workplace

  1. Truly shameless. Mega-rich Melinda spreading lies and misandry world-wide via the billions of spineless Bill. Coal miners of the world unite, and throw coal at her!

  2. To summarize this post, if Melinda Gates has ever experienced sexual harassment, it must have been quite a long time ago. So apparently the point is that there’s something objectionable about her expression of concern for other women who currently have to put up with harassment. It would be better for every person to only give a damn about herself. This is similar to the issue with (probably) nearly all-white church in Concord putting up a Black Lives Matter flag.

  3. In the past 500 years of Western civ , at the least, there has never been a time when men had it easier than women did (of the same socio-economic class). 90% or so were farmers (up until 20th century), and men had to deal with the more dangerous tasks on the farm, not women. In the cities it was the same, with the most dangerous jobs being done by men. Often, even if a woman was of a lower SES, men would defer to her, come to her aid, etc.

  4. paddy: How would you factor in the risk of death from childbirth in the 19th century and earlier? If a woman faced a higher overall risk of death than a man, wouldn’t that suggest that men had the easier life? (leaving aside the minority of women who chose not to have children)

  5. What George said. No way would Bill Gates ever ask a subordinate, Melinda, on a date given the political climate in today’s workplace.

  6. Good point by George.

    Melinda Gates not only married a guy with 100 billion, but also 10 years older. Isn’t marrying older (richer) men conforming to the patriarchy’s expectations for women?

    As an example of women’s self-empowerment – why does she need her husband’s money to start a charity then? Why so dependent on the man? Why couldn’t she earn the money for the charity herself or fundraise it on her own merit? Why not be an example like Oprah Winfrey (net worth 3 billion, who’s long term partner btw is still not married to her – she must have read Real World Divorce) and do her own thing and start her own charity.

    How is this any different from a 25 year-old marrying a 45 year-old rich Qatari royal and starting a foundation or charity to keep herself occupied? What is there to be so proud about? How is the effort really any different from managing a bake sale if you just need to sit once a week (once a month?) for an hour and ask the hired McKinsey consultants after their powerpoint presentation how much of impact can $X dollars make in the countries in need and then having the executive team vote on it?

  7. @philg I think you bring up a good point.

    Do you find these stats accurate/useful, found via search: They seem to indicate about 50 deaths per 1000 live births until late 1930s, when the figures dropped significantly.

    (Possibly an idea for a blog post: how the medical field resisted for over 50 years the idea that their own practices led to post-pregnancy infections and deaths…?)

  8. I’ve seen this argued in detail before. Birthing only got super dangerous once doctors got involved. It was not historically a particularly risky thing.

    Who cares. You died for most of history basically because you starved and got sick with something in a weakened state and didn’t survive until the next harvest. Men, women, and children effected equally.

  9. Quote: She is a Ph.D.-educated prime working age childless American who quit her career after marrying a rich guy whom she had described as “unattractive.”

    You can provide independently verifiable proof of this, right?

  10. Melinda Gates doesn’t get backlash cuz she had a serious CS degree from Duke, and she isn’t a beauty queen by any stretch. Somewhat down-to-Earth by most reports (from other school parents in Seattle). Just wish she and her brilliant husband would stop taking advantage of our FUBAR tax system, ditch the “Foundation” which is their personal massive tax shelter, and donate as much as they like to the US Treasury (there’s a line for that on the 1040 form). Maybe Trump’s tax plan will largely shut down these “charities.”

  11. Federico: Independently verifiable proof that one woman quit her job after marrying a rich guy? University of Chicago Econ Dept. will give you millions of examples! And the guys don’t even have to be that rich, just sue-able. See the research by Alessandra Voena cited in

    A couple of excerpts if you don’t want to follow the link: “[following the introduction of no-fault divorce laws] women who were already married became less likely to work, by approximately 5 percentage points. … I find that the decrease in the labor supply of women was associated with an increase in the amount of leisure time they enjoyed.”

  12. re: Melinda Gates anecdote about twice/week pre-school drop-off. Apparently neither of them believes in division of labor or opportunity cost as it makes no sense to have the full-time gainfully employed parent spend time during the workday if there is a full-time stay-at-home parent available to do a school-run (as was their case until the couple began their “foundation” work). Wondering how long that arrangement actually lasted, since the three children eventually graduated from pre-school.

  13. Phil, independently verifiable proof that said woman married a rich dude she described as unattractive. That woman, nobody else.

  14. Federico: You need her name and phone number? Are you planning on vicariously living off this guy after she divorces him? The wedding was within the last year, so I don’t think she’ll build up much of an alimony entitlement for at least 9 more years. But maybe if she has a kid you could execute your plan sooner…

  15. Phil, nope, I just need to check you are not trolling us (you know, the issues of fake whatever and whatnot). Your acquaintances and friends always give your narrative such consistency I think your readership should be able to check independently whether it is all nicely true after all… I trust you understand we all like to read you as a ‘reporter’, rather than ‘creative non fiction’.

  16. I doubt that philg has any interest in exposing a woman’s private comments online, publicly naming her and in tandem humiliating the unattractive spouse. Either you believe philg or you don’t, on this one …

  17. Federico: Friend me on Facebook and maybe you’ll be able to see her comment. Then you can send her a friend request. My understanding is that Facebook friendships with other men are not uncommon for married women…

    (But actually, the original post contains a quite-public example of a well-educated woman who quit her job after marrying an older rich guy: Melinda Gates. I am not aware of her continuing to go into work at Microsoft to collect a W-2 paycheck once she had found an alternative way of securing spending power.)

  18. Separately, I don’t know why it is controversial to assert that there are Americans who cease to work when they have another way of making ends meet. At the low end of the income distribution we have tens of millions of Americans collecting welfare rather than being in the labor force. At the high end, we have people who married to rich spouses and also lottery winners. See for a local (to me) woman who quit her job after winning a multi-state lottery.

    See for how even a small cash incentive is sufficient to get Americans to reduce their labor efforts.

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