Pivotal Ventures, a Seattle-based philanthropic group founded by Melinda Gates, is launching a $50 million project to increase the number of women working in tech.
The Gender Equality in Tech (GET) Cities initiative aims to grow women’s presence in the industry by building pathways in education, career access and entrepreneurship. The plan is to work with three tech hubs over the course of five years, starting with Chicago.
Companies like Uber, Google, Apple and IBM have offices in Chicago. According to CBRE’s 2019 Tech Talent Analyzer, the city’s talent pool has grown by more than 10 percent since 2013, making it the sixth largest tech market in the country.
“In addition to the city’s established tech sector, strong academic institutions and vibrant entrepreneurial and venture ecosystems, the CET Cities team was inspired by the breadth and commitment to equality among the organizations already present in Chicago,” the initiative said on its website. “GET Cities believes Chicago has the ethos to see women soar in tech and develop models to share with the rest of the country.”
The remaining two hubs will be announced over the course of a few years to help solve what is seen as a national problem. According to an analysis done by Dalberg, only 26 percent of the computing workforce is comprised of women even though they make up more than half of the professional workforce. Plus, female founders brought in just shy of 3 percent of U.S. venture capital last year.
“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 said 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.”
GET Cities is just one part of a $1 billion initiative Gates announced last October to promote gender equality in the United States.