Melinda Gates is challenging us to solve gender equality and will compensate significantly for the best ideas. Pivotal Ventures, Melinda Gates’ investment and incubation company, and MacKenzie Bezos have announced the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge which will award $30 million for the most compelling ideas to help expand women’s power and influence in the United States.
The idea behind the challenge is to uncover bold and transformative ideas to help women achieve equality. “The entrenched inequalities that divide America—race, gender, class—will not go away without systems-wide change,” said Melinda Gates. “This challenge is seeking bold ideas to dismantle the status quo and expand power and influence for women of all backgrounds.”
Mackenzie Bezos added, “Closing the gap on gender equality will benefit everyone. History keeps teaching us that when a diversity of voices is represented in decisions, the outcome is better for all. I’m excited that the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge will focus energy and innovation on this vital catalyst for positive change.”
In particular, they’re looking for ideas that will help women in the following three complex areas:
- Dismantling the barriers that hold women back including sexual harassment, discrimination, racial inequity, and the lack of good childcare options.
- Fast tracking women in influential sectors like technology, government and entrepreneurship.
- Altering outdated systems, institutions, and beliefs by getting key stakeholders—including CEOs, community leaders, consumers, and employees—up to speed and actively engaged in pursuing gender equity.
Judging of the ideas will start with a peer-to-peer review (those who submitted ideas will judge others’ proposals) and then the top ideas will move on to expert judges. Pivotal Ventures, Bezos and Gates will make the final determination of the 10 finalists and winners of the awards. The organizations are guaranteeing that at least two grants of a minimum of $10 million will be awarded for the most compelling proposals. They are also pledging an additional $10 million will be divided among the other finalists.
These are not simple problems to solve. Ideas are easy to come by, but feasibility will be a tough hurdle. Ideas like pay transparency, where everyone’s salary in an organization is public, would go a long way to reducing the wage gap, but the lack of feasiblity makes the idea almost moot. Persuading organizations or governments to adapt change not easy, but it is certainly necessary to achieve equality between the sexes.
Gates is correct that these problems will not go away without some bold solutions. Kudos to her for seeking out those solutions and making them happen.