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Melinda French Gates: The portrait of a strong, calm woman
Melinda French Gates: The portrait of a strong, calm woman

Melinda and Bill Gates were in a relationship for 34 years, 27 of them married. Now the couple are getting divorced. Who is the woman who has been at the Microsoft founder's side for so long?

Melinda French Gates: The portrait of a strong, calm woman
Melinda French Gates: The portrait of a strong, calm woman

"After careful consideration and a lot of work on our relationship, we decided to end our marriage," Microsoft founder Bill Gates, 65, and still-wife Melinda, 56, posted on Twitter a few hours ago. You both uploaded the text at the exact same time. The end after 34 years together. Many great and formative moments lie behind the couple. They are parents of three adult children: Jennifer, 25, Rory, 21, and Phoebe, 18. And they have a common mission, which despite the separation they want to pursue in the future: The work in their foundation "Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation", which is the largest private foundation in the world with deposits of around $ 46.8 billion. She got the idea for a charity in 1993 while on a trip to the Congo. As a team, they want to continue to work for the worldwide improvement of health care, global education systems and the fight against extreme poverty.

In the course of the Corona crisis, the two invested immense sums in the development of a vaccine - and off we went with numerous conspiracy theories: He was working on the control of the population, would let people implement chips with the vaccination. He actually invented the virus …

Bill Gates achieved world fame through the "Microsoft Windows" operating system, which he developed in 1975 with his childhood friend Paul Allen. Today, with an estimated net worth of $ 110 billion, he is considered one of the richest and most influential men in the world.

Bill and Melinda Gates met for the first time at a business lunch

In his company he also met her: Melinda Ann French, daughter of an engineer and a housewife. In 1987 she was hired there as a product manager, her first job after completing her degree in computer science and economics at Duke University, a private university in North Carolina. At a joint business lunch in New York, they sat across from each other and started chatting for the first time. Melinda later describes the first impression she had of him as "funny" and "full of zest for action". After this dinner they met again and again in the company parking lot and flirted with each other. Bill finally asked Melinda out on a date, two weeks in advance. It was too much planned for her, too little spontaneous. She canceled. But he didn't give up and asked her again - this time about a date that same evening. And this time she said yes.

"I walked in and saw that he wrote down the pros on one side and the cons of a marriage with me on the other."

A year later, Bill was standing in his bedroom - a whiteboard in front of him, on which he was drawing wild notes. "I came in and saw that he wrote down the advantages of marrying me on one side and the disadvantages on the other," she later laughed in an interview for the three-part Netflix series "The Man Bill Gates". published 2019. "I just took getting married very seriously", he explains his unromantic action in retrospect. It is the same interview in which he also says how grateful he is for her at his side: "She is very similar to me: Optimistic and interested in science. But she can deal with other people better than me."


One of her great commitments is female empowerment

In an interview with the US edition of Vogue in February 2020, when asked why female leadership moves so much, she replied: "Women look at the world from a different perspective, they ask different questions. Management matters are a lot about professional experience It is difficult to perceive a system as partisan and biased when it is in your favor, so imagine what is possible when the same reflective, committed women to finally be welcomed in all places where decisions are made and given the opportunity to drive change from within."

"We women still spend disproportionately more time doing unpaid work such as cooking, cleaning and looking after children and the elderly than men."

Four years earlier address the problem of unpaid work, which is predominantly done by women: "My siblings, I and many of my friends had mothers who - as we always said - stayed at home instead of work. Today I know that that is work as well - hard work that you don't even get paid for. Through my children and their friends I know that today's generation of girls want to do it differently than their grandmothers. Most boys support them. Polls show that too. But if you now believe that this is reality, you are wrong! Even if you do Already a lot has changed, we women still spend disproportionately more time doing unpaid chores like cooking, cleaning, and looking after children and the elderly. Why is that? Because society still puts us in that position urges …"

Melinda Gates, a woman who does the media describe as "calm" and "introverted" and as someone who cares about privacy. "I can understand that a lot of people are interested in our relationship," she said in one of her few interviews in 1995, a year after the two tied the knot in Hawaii (the list of pluses was obviously longer than the list of prints;-)), "Nevertheless, I don't want to share this with the public." So far, the family has lived in seclusion on a spacious lake property in Seattle in the northwestern US state of Washington. Little information about their relationship leaked out over the years. For example, that the two of them are big puzzle fans.

What else do you know: The couple is said to have no prenuptial agreement. In the divorce petition, which is said to have been submitted to the US magazine "People", it is stated that Melinda will forego child support payments. And that marriage is "irretrievably broken". Something that the two also tell their 57.2 million followers on Twitter: "We no longer believe that we as a couple can continue to grow together in the coming phase of our lives". The divorce is set to be made official in April 2022.

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