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'Gender Equality in Tech' Initiative Kicks Off in Chicago

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Melinda Gates

"How do we make Silicon Valley more inclusive? Maybe the answer is to start somewhere else," Melinda Gates wrote of the 'Gender Equality in Tech Cities' initiative.

Credit: Pivotal Ventures

Pivotal Ventures, a philanthropic group founded by Melinda Gates, will invest $50 million over the next five years to create "inclusive tech hubs" in Chicago and two other yet-to-be-named cities. The initiative is part of the pledge Gates made in October to spend $1 billion to expand women's power and influence over the next decade.

The "Gender Equality in Tech Cities" initiative will focus on increasing the percentages of women who graduate with computing degrees and who get hired into (and retained/promoted at) tech jobs; it also aims to increase the amount of venture capital invested in startups with at least one female founder. Pivotal Ventures is devoting the money to several partners, including Break Through Tech, a spinoff of a Cornell Tech initiative, which will create career development programs for students at the University of Illinois at Chicago and elsewhere; and SecondMuse, an agency that will coordinate programs around hiring women in tech and funding female entrepreneurs.

"As the tech industry continues to expand beyond Silicon Valley to other areas across the country, we have the opportunity to reimagine what the sector could look like," Gates wrote in a LinkedIn post. "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."

Pivotal created a short list of potential cities and chose Chicago for its current tech, venture, and larger-business ecosystem. Pivotal plans to choose the second of its three cities within the next year.

From Fortune
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