Melinda gates weighs in on #metoo

Melinda gates weighs in on #metoo

Melinda gates is an exception, she says so herself. "It took me a while to realize that i was in this position."

As the wife of bill gates, who founded the computer company microsoft in the 1970s that made him one of the richest people in the world. As a mother of three children. And, together with bill, as co-chairman of the world’s largest private foundation, the bill& melinda gates foundation.

In the #metoo debate about sexual harassment of women, however, melinda gates is no exception. "I faced discrimination and bias because i was a woman. And there were also a few cases of sexual harassment," gates tells deutsche presse-agentur in interview. She doesn’t want to talk about details, saying her experiences weren’t "particularly horrifying". But: "to be honest, there is not a single woman in my circle of acquaintances to whom this has not happened yet. It is omnipresent."

That’s why gates, who has been fighting for women’s rights around the world for years, is now fully behind the #metoo movement. "It makes me very sad to think of all the women who have been affected by sexual harassment for many, many years," says the 53-year-old. "We are going through a difficult time right now. It’s the time of reckoning, when it all finally comes out."

That is necessary. "The moment of reckoning is important for these experiences to come out in the open. This transparency is important and what comes next is ‘what do we do about it’?’ i’m very excited to see what ideas come out of this. But also just the discourse that I’m hearing both in the U.S. And in my travels around the world that this can’t go on and we need to do something different: that alone is progress. And we need more of them."

She also sees progress in this respect at her husband’s company, for which she also worked for a long time. "I’m still close friends with about ten women there. In the late 80s and early 90s we worked together at microsoft. Working at microsoft was far from perfect. But it was a very meritocratic company when my female colleagues and I worked there. You could move up incredibly fast if you did a good job. We supported each other."The sector as a whole, however, was "not particularly good". "We have experienced sexual harassment, discrimination, and bias in the industry. But inside the building we felt relatively safe."

The #metoo debate arose last fall after allegations of sexual assault were made against hollywood producer harvey weinstein. The revelations started a worldwide movement, with hundreds of thousands of victims reporting their own experiences of sexual assault and making allegations of abuse public. The technology sector was not spared either. Dozens of women from silicon valley reported their negative experiences on the internet.

Raising her voice and becoming part of the #metoo movement herself is an important cause for gates, she says. "When i realized that women see me as a leader, i realized that i need to use that voice more to raise issues on behalf of women around the world."Gates also wants to be a role model for her three children. "I tell my two daughters and my son to use their voice in the world. Ten years ago, I realized I wasn’t really doing that. I worked more behind the scenes. I value my privacy and the privacy of my family. But I realized that if I tell my daughters to use their voice in the world, as their role model I have to do the same."

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