Melinda Gates, the ex-wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, is one of the most influential and powerful female philanthropists. She is widely known for being the co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest private charitable organization.
Born in Texas as Melinda French, she is the sister of three siblings. During her years in school, she showed outstanding academic results and was the top student in her class.
She developed an interest in computer science at the young age of 14 after her father bought her the Apple II computer. In school, she started learning more about computers and programming language, and worked as a mathematics and computer programming tutor as her very first job.
After graduating from the Duke University in 1986 with her Bachelors Degree in Computer Science and Economics, she received her MBA from the Duke’s Fuqua School of Business in 1987. She landed her first job as a university graduate at Microsoft as a marketing manager, however, left Microsoft in the 90s.
Melinda became the wife of Bill Gates in 1994 and the married couple founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 with the goal to enhance healthcare, reduce poverty, and to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology in the U.S. Their philanthropic work through the foundation has awarded them both several awards. Bill and Melinda have donated billions of dollars from their personal wealth towards the foundation and as of 2020, has become the second largest charitable foundation in the world. After 27 years of marriage, Melinda filed for divorce in 2019, which was finalized in 2021. Despite their divorce, the pair has decided to remain co-chairs of the foundation.
In 2015, Melinda French Gates became the founder of her very own organization, Pivotal Ventures, which is aimed at identifying and developing solutions to the problems affecting women and families in the U.S. Apart from being an entrepreneur and philanthropist, Melinda Gates is also the author of “The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World” which was published in 2019.
Melinda’s philanthropic impact has ranked her in the top 10 of the Forbes list of 100 Most Influential Women consistently between the years of 2011 to 2019, amongst several other honorary awards. As of 2022, her net worth is six billion USD.