Melinda Gates’ Advice For Young Women: Be Yourself

By Annie Baker ● November 10, 2019
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-founder Melinda Gates was recently interviewed by National Geographic where she gave advice to young women: “Fitting in is overrated.”

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-founder Melinda Gates was recently interviewed by National Geographic editor-in-chief Susan Goldberg. Goldberg conducted the interview as part of a series for the new National Geographic book called WOMEN: The National Geographic Image Collection.

Gates joined Microsoft in 1987. And she married Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in 1994. Together they launched the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed more than $45 billion to help solve problems around the world.

Melinda Gates was asked what is the most important challenge that women face today?

“There isn’t a country on Earth where women have achieved true equality, and the barriers they face look different in different places. But no matter where you are in the world, understanding these barriers is the first step to dismantling them—and that requires making a concerted effort to gather better data about women and their lives. We don’t have reliable information about how many girls are going to school, how many women have the chance to earn an income, what their health and safety looks like, and whether they’re dying preventable deaths. And without that data, we can’t design effective policies or interventions to meet women’s needs. Data is power,” said Gates.

And what advice would Gates give to young women today?

“Fitting in is overrated. I spent my first few years at my first job out of college doing everything I could to make myself more like the people around me. It didn’t bring out the best in me—and it didn’t position me to bring out the best in others. The best advice I have to offer is: Seek out people and environments that empower you to be nothing but yourself,” added Gates.

Melinda pointed out that the key to a strong marriage is to also have a balanced partnership where each person splits the hours of the “unpaid” work involving running a household, including driving the kids to school, packing lunches, and doing the laundry.

Gates is a major advocate of women’s empowerment and gender equality. And she published findings from her research about the importance of gender equality in her book “The Moment of Lift.”