Bending the curve on Women's Power and Influence


two young women consult on a project in a large open garage.

Bending the Curve on Women's Power and Influence

An important shift is happening in America – in our politics, in our workplaces, and in our culture. There is a groundswell of awareness, activism and energy to accelerate gender equality.

While women in the U.S. have made progress in many areas, women are still vastly underrepresented in the places when agendas are set, and decisions are made. In fact, in 2019, the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index projected that at the current pace of change, it will take the U.S. another 208 years to achieve gender equality.

Additionally, the gains that have been made for women in the U.S. do not extend to all women. Women of color, poor women, and lesbian and trans women still face additional barriers at home and at work to reach equal opportunity.

Accelerating the Pace of Change

In her 2019 article in the Harvard Business Review, Melinda French Gates presented a vison and strategy to advance women’s power and influence in the U.S. She then announced that through the work of Pivotal Ventures, she would commit $1 billion, over the next 10 years, as a starting point for what would be needed to truly bend the curve on women’s power and influence. She made this commitment as a vote of confidence in the experts and advocates already working on these issues – and an invitation for others to join the movement and make commitments of their own.

Accelerating gender equality will require many things, but most critically, strategic capital and stakeholder collaboration. Through this strategy, we look to leaders in this space to help bring additional capital and energy into three key areas: 

  • Removing traditional barriers for women and leveling the playing field at work and at home.  Through challenging biased narratives, ending sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace, and helping women balance their career, work at home, and caregiving responsibilities, we are helping to dismantle the barriers women face in getting ahead. 
  • Building pathways and putting women on the fast-track to enter key sectors. Our research shows that there are six key areas that have an outsized impact on society. Through creating entry points and consistent support for women in 1) public office, 2) tech, 3) academia, 4) media & entertainment, 5) finance, and 6) entrepreneurship, we can take pointed steps toward advancing women’s power and influence.
  • Amplifying external pressure on the institutions that can reinvent the status quo. We aim to do this by promoting collaboration among stakeholders, arming them with resources and data around the issues, and activating key groups (shareholders, journalists, executives/board members, celebrities) to influence organizations and exert greater pressure from every angle.

Defining Women’s Power and Influence

In 2015, Melinda French Gates founded Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company, to advance social progress in the U.S. and partner with organizations and individuals to accelerate momentum where progress has stalled.

As part of this mission, Pivotal Ventures aims to make faster progress toward gender equality in the U.S. by expanding women’s power and influence. This means we want to see more women in positions to make decisions, control resources, and shape policies and perspectives in their homes, workplaces, and communities.

We Can't Do This Alone

Expanding women’s power and influence over the next 10 years will be an important measure of our collective ability to advance social progress in this country. We recognize that we can’t bend the curve alone and that many organizations and individuals are already doing heroic work. That’s why partnership and collaboration will be vital.

At Pivotal, we work with organizations and individuals to accelerate momentum where progress has stalled and use philanthropic and investment capital to substantially improve people’s lives. We must seize this moment of opportunity to advance progress for all women and bend the curve on women’s power and influence – because equality can’t wait.