Melinda Gates' Proudest Achievement? Raising a Feminist Son

For her son Rory's birthday, Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, wrote an ode to her 18-year-old.

"One of the things that makes me proudest is that Rory is a feminist," she says.

While Gates was raised in a household in which daughters were taught to be confident, she and her sister weren't taught about the barriers women face in the workplace, at home, and in the world.

Especially, says Gates, not at the dinner table.

"Sure, I knew that women faced challenges that men didn’t, but I hadn’t spent much time reflecting on the less overt ways that cultural norms and gendered expectations shape our lives," she says.

"[Bill and I] decided over time that, for the sake of our son as well as our daughters, we were going to be a family that readily talks about gender equality at the dinner table."

Gates recounts her own faults and misconceptions.

"I realized that I had been asking Rory to take the garbage out and not his sisters—a task that studies say usually goes to boys more often than girls. I was also disappointed to notice that I often held our daughters to a much higher standard than our son when it came to keeping their rooms clean."

Gates concludes:

"These are little things, but they’re also exactly the kinds of unconscious behaviors that, over time, contribute to societal expectations that men should do the heavy lifting, and women should handle the housework."

She acknowledges Rory has taken on a more proactive role towards gender equality than even she has as a mother.

"He told me he thinks that standing up to unfair norms is nothing more than exactly what men everywhere should be doing. Yes, he recognizes that the more entrenched the norms, the more courage it takes to confront them. But he also believes that it’s a universal responsibility and one that he’s already striving to uphold in his own life."

You can read Gates' ode to Rory here.

H/t: Motto