Ex­cerpt from What We Keep.

Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - Contents - Melinda Gates is the co-chair of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion, the largest phil­an­thropic foun­da­tion in the world.

THIS AP­PLE III was a gift from my fa­ther, who was an en­gi­neer work­ing with NASA. I was about 16, and we were all sup­posed to share it, but I took it over al­most im­me­di­ately and per­suaded my par­ents to let it live in my bed­room. I spent hours on it play­ing games and learn­ing to code, and my dad more or less had to ask per­mis­sion to use it. But he didn’t seem to mind; he was al­ways in­cred­i­bly sup­port­ive of my in­ter­ests in sci­ence and com­put­ers.

‘Af­ter I took a job at Mi­crosoft, I had the Ap­ple III sent to Seat­tle, be­cause it re­minded me of how a com­puter changed my life. Our dream was to rev­o­lu­tionise the way bil­lions of men and women lived and worked, and it was nice, as my ca­reer went along – I even­tu­ally over­saw Ex­pe­dia and En­carta – to have a me­mento of my own jour­ney.

‘There were a lot more women get­ting com­puter-sci­ence de­grees when the Ap­ple III was re­leased in 1980 than there are to­day. When I talk about the ur­gent need to help more girls see a fu­ture in tech­nol­ogy, it’s not just be­cause I think it would be good for those girls – though I do. It’s also be­cause I think it would be bet­ter for so­ci­ety. Even now, as we run our foun­da­tion, the Ap­ple III is a sym­bol of our con­vic­tion that in­no­va­tion makes the fu­ture bet­ter for ev­ery­one – and we all ben­e­fit when there are more voices at the ta­ble mak­ing de­ci­sions.

‘It turns out that one of the sin­gle best pre­dic­tors of whether a woman goes into a STEM field is whether or not her fa­ther be­lieved in her when she was grow­ing up. Well, my fa­ther did, in spades.’


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