Women Who Inspire: Melinda Gates

Alicia Barney

Posted on November 03 2014

Shabby Apple is a woman-owned, woman-run company aiming to empower women as well as dress them. With that mission in mind, this weekly series highlights the many women who inspire us.

Meet Melinda Gates, philanthropist, wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gates and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Five Things To Know:

1. She’s a non-profit power player.

The Gateses have donated about a third of their wealth to their foundation, which focuses on poverty and health in developing countries as well as education in the United States—giving $3.4 billion to those causes last year alone. The organization sponsors innovative projects (think an AIDS vaccine and toilets that work without water or sewer connections) to solve the world’s big problems.

2. She married the boss.

Gates (then Melinda French) began working at Microsoft in the ‘80s as an associate project manager after graduating from Duke University with a bachelor’s and MBA. She met CEO Bill when she was just 23, four months after starting her job. They later started dating—after she warmed up to planning in advance. She was put off at first when he asked her to dinner two weeks ahead of time because of his busy schedule.

3. She’s a mountain climber.

While we don’t think of her husband as much of a jock, Melinda could be called one. She kayaks, has run the Seattle Marathon and once climbed to the peak of the 14,411-foot Mount Rainier.

4. She’s hands on.

Gates doesn’t just put her name on the foundation—she shapes the strategy of the multi-billion dollar philanthropy. After meeting with women in rural Niger, Gates decided last year to personally focus on family planning—setting a goal to deliver modern contraceptives to an additional 120 million women in developing countries by 2020.

5. She’s a mom of three.

Bill and Melinda are known for their plan to leave their kids (daughters Jennifer and Phoebe and son Rory) only a fraction of their wealth—the billionaire parents also ban Apple products and don’t allow cell phones until age 13. But there are still perks—all three children have traveled with Gates to Africa, where the Gates Foundation does much of its work.


Photo via Melinda Gates Facebook page.

Photo via Melinda Gates Facebook page.

Photo via Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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