Her father knew that his salary as an engineer wouldn’t pay for college tuition for four children. So her parents started a little real estate side hustle that bought small rent houses.
“We would literally fix them up on the weekends as a family. I mowed a lot of lawns. I did Easy-Off on ovens. I pulled up carpet. I painted. That rental property money was the down payment for each of our college.”
But with that hard labor came a new labor of love.
Her father bought an Apple III to keep track of business.
When she told Bill that her family owned an Apple III, he was impressed, even though it was a competitor’s brand. “There were only 2,000 of those ever sold,” she says. “I could program on it. My sister and I kept the books on VisiCalc.”
She loved programming so much that she searched for colleges with computer science programs and zeroed in on Notre Dame, a Catholic university that offered her a small scholarship. But when she and her dad visited the campus, they discovered that its computer science program had been dismantled because the school thought computers were a fad, she says. “I was crushed.”
Instead she chose Duke, which had two computer labs, thanks to the largesse of IBM.
She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and economics in 1986, followed by her MBA from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business the next year.
Too much testosterone
It wasn’t just those TV characters that captured her imagination.
Her father had female mathematicians on each of his Apollo mission teams. She met them at company picnics and wanted to be like them.
“I wanted to be at the table, right? I wanted to make a major contribution,” she says. “That’s why Microsoft was so attractive. They were on the cutting edge of this amazing new software, and I could see where it was going.”
Her job interview wasn’t about specific products but rather a conversation about what the world would look like in the future. “I was like, ‘I want to be a part of this.’ And I knew I could be, because I’d seen women on teams. And I’d seen women be good at business.”
But she seriously considered quitting her dream job shortly after landing it.
It wasn’t that she was the only woman in her 10-person hiring class of 1987. She was used to that.
It was the aggressive, combative and often abrasive culture that she found at the Redmond, Wash., software giant that she found herself bumping up against.
“It was very male dominated, right?” she recalls. “I thought, ‘Maybe I’m just not right for this place,’ ” she says. “You start to doubt yourself. It wasn’t until much later that I learned that women doubt themselves instead of doubting the culture and saying, ‘Wait a minute. It shouldn’t be like this.’ ”
She couldn’t fit the mold, so she broke it.
Gates learned to be herself, and it worked. She eventually managed 1,700 people at Microsoft.
“I could attract talent from all over the company,” Gates recalls. “People would say to me, ‘How did you get that amazing developer to come work on your project?’ And I’d say, ‘I don’t know. Maybe they just want to work in this culture.’ We were collaborative, and we would do things together. We had each other’s back.”
She retired from Microsoft in 1996 to focus on starting a family and raising her children.
These days, her big escape is a day on the lake in her kayak. “I just love it,” she says.
And she can trace her love of water to living in land-locked Dallas for so many years.
“Part of growing up in Dallas is you find somebody else who has a boat. You trailer it to these various lakes. Seattle had this enormous lake in the middle of the city and we live on it. So a day when the sun comes out, even when it’s cold, I put on warm jackets and I stay safe and close to the shore and I get in my kayak. That is a total guilty pleasure. Couldn’t do that in Dallas, right?”
Well, maybe she could’ve done this on White Rock Lake? Mm, maybe not.
Given the hectic pace she keeps, it’s easy to imagine why a little serenity is heavenly for her.
Source : https://www.dallasnews.com/business/philanthropy/2018/03/16/dallas-homegrown-melinda-gates-opens-important-speak-now799