- Melinda Gates, philanthropist and one of the world’s most powerful women, recently sat down with Business Insider US Editor-in-Chief Alyson Shontell to discuss her philanthropy, career, marriage, and new book: "The Moment of Lift."
- Gates shared what happened when her husband, Bill Gates, started dropping his daughter off at school while he was still Microsoft’s CEO.
- Other moms noticed and made their husbands begin dropping off their kids too. Melinda realized she and Bill, in the pursuit of a more balanced marriage, had inadvertently become role models for others.
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When Bill Gates was CEO of Microsoft, he spent a few mornings each week driving his oldest daughter, Jennifer, to kindergarten. It was part of an effort to help his wife, Melinda Gates, split household responsibilities — which often fall more on women than men — evenly.
Melinda Gates discussed the decision with Business Insider US Editor-in-Chief Alyson Shontell, and the impact it had on the school.
"We both agreed on the school we thought she should be in long term," Gates said.
"It was a good drive away from our house. And I was making the argument that there was going to be so many years of driving. Maybe we just wait and put her in that school when she was a little bit older. Bill was really quite adamant that he thought we should start then. And he said, ‘I’ll drive them.’"
Gates was surprised her husband volunteered because his job was obviously demanding and it was a long commute.
But a few weeks later, she noticed something interesting on her mornings dropping off Jenn.
"Other moms sidled up to me and said, ‘Hey, do you see what’s changing in the classroom?’ Gates said.
She did. More dads were dropping of their kids than before. The moms nodded.
"They were like, ‘Yeah, we went home and told our husbands, ‘If Bill Gates, who’s the CEO of Microsoft right now, can drive his kid to school, so can you!’"
We went home and told our husbands, ‘If Bill Gates, who’s the CEO of Microsoft right now, can drive his kid to school, so can you!’
By trying to create more balance in household chores, which can strengthen a marriage, Bill and Melinda Gates realized they were impacting other marriages.
American women, on average, spend 90 more minutes a day doing household work than men, which comes out to about seven additional years over their lifetime. Having to complete this "unpaid" work, as Gates calls it, holds women back in their careers.
The time spent Bill Gates spent with his daughter in the car not only helped his wife. It also helped his relationship with his child.
"Bill and the kids cherished those moments in the car," Gates said. "Listening to music together, the conversations over many years that they had — it’s a side of him that they might not have seen otherwise. It would’ve been a missed opportunity."
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