GWC Summer Speaker Series ft. Melinda Gates

“Your perspective is as important as somebody who has a PhD”

Our Summer Speaker Series brings leaders and activists together with our CEO and Founder Reshma Saujani to have conversations about bravery, activism, and tech, broadcasted exclusively to our girls.

We’re so grateful to Melinda Gates for joining this Summer Speaker Series. Check out what we learned from her conversation with Reshma.


Reshma kicked things off with Melinda by asking about what inspires her to be brave, to do the hard thing. Melinda reminded us all that inspiration to be brave comes from the people all around us — from girls like you. And that once you take the action of being brave, you aren’t just saying the right thing or prompting action — you are creating space for others to be brave too. Chances are, if you choose bravery then your friend, your mom, your sister, your neighbor will choose to be brave too.


So much of Melinda’s work, and what she’s talking about right now, has to do with just how unequal our caregiving system is. Too often, the work of caregiving falls on women and girls — disproportionately impacting their education, chances of succeeding in the workforce, getting a chance to find what else brings them joy. To those of our girls who are caregivers, Melinda said “what you’re doing is hard, and society should not be asking you to take this on.” To the extent that you care, she said, take care of yourself first. Imagine being on an airplane, and remember that you have to put your own oxygen mask on first before you help others.


The truth is, Melinda said, because of the way that this pandemic has reshaped our professional lives — this generation of girls is going to have more opportunities to work in different ways than generations before them. COVID has exposed enormous gaps in our society — like gaps in caregiving — that will need to be addressed. And what’s more, tech jobs aren’t going away. These are still the fastest-growing, highest-paying jobs in the economy. We need girls filling them.

Her advice? “When you do go out to a job, when you apply for a job — look carefully at the culture you’re going into, look carefully at the location, and look at the job itself to make sure you like it.” Remember, you are interviewing these companies as much as they are interviewing you, so look and ask for what you need.


One of our girls asked Melinda, “do you deal with imposter syndrome and how did you cope with it?” The answer? Absolutely yes. Melinda spent time talking about how she works at a foundation that’s trying to find the next HIV vaccine, a COVID vaccine. And yet, her degree is in computer science. She talked about how she often has imposter syndrome, but that she’s able to combat it by feeling comfortable asking questions and leading with her curiosity for solving a problem. She and Reshma agreed: in many ways, curiosity is all you need to be a change-maker.

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Huge thanks to Melinda, and of course, to Reshma for having this conversation!

The Girls Who Code Summer Speaker Series is a set of conversations between Girls Who Code Founder and CEO Reshma Saujani and leaders and activists broadcasted exclusively to girls enrolled in our Virtual Summer Immersion Program. Girls have the opportunity to listen in to a fireside chat and then to ask their own questions about bravery, leadership, and tech. To find out more, read our press release here.



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