Venture Capital: Melinda Gates’ Incubation Firm Pivotal To Invest $50M for Women’s Equality in Tech

Chicago will be the first of three “Gender Equality in Tech” or GET cities.

Over the next five years, Melinda Gates’ Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company, will invest $50 million to create more opportunities in the tech sector for women.

Last year, Gates published “The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World.”

Last year, Gates had pledged an amount of $1 billion towards empowering women over the coming ten years. The current investment of $50 million is a part of that pledge and will cover Chicago and two unnamed cities.


Gender Equality in Tech (GET) Cities initiative aims to grow women’s presence in tech by facilitating their progress in education, career access, and entrepreneurship.

In venture capital, GET looks to increase the amount invested in startups with a minimum of one female founder.

The program is also looking to increase the component of women graduating with computing degrees. Also, it wants to see that there are more hiring and promotions for women in tech positions.

Why Melinda Gates picked Chicago

Fortune interviewed Renee Wittemyer, Pivotal’s director of program strategy and investment. According to Wittemyer, Pivotal picked Chicago for its environment surrounding tech and venture, and the presence of large business.

“We also believe that Chicago’s rich diversity is an untapped competitive advantage,” Wittemyer said.

He said that tech continues to have an outsize influence on society. However, women and women of color, in particular, were lagging behind.

“Our academic partner for GET Chicago is the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)—an ethnically and economically diverse research powerhouse that is already driving increased interest in computer science,” says the GET website.

Meanwhile, the computer-science program at Chicago’s University of Illinois will receive a major grant from Break Through Tech. The program received new funding from Melinda Gates and others to boost the number of women in tech.

According to Robert Sloan, head of UIC’s computer-science department, women now represent less than a fifth of computer-science graduates nationally, but 35 years ago, more than a third of graduates were women.

Meanwhile, Melinda Gates is focusing on promoting gender equality in upcoming tech hubs such as Chicago, breaking the stranglehold of male-dominated Silicon Valley.

“If these emerging tech hubs are supported to prioritize women’s representation and inclusion as they grow, they will be better positioned to tap into the full range of local talent, while also helping create a blueprint for closing the industry’s gender gap nationwide,” wrote Gates in LinkedIn.

Related Story: Top-Flight Investors Back VC Firm Emphasising Diversity

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January 29, 2020

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