back to article Daddy, are we there yet? How Mrs Gates got Bill to drive the kids to school

Melinda Gates has written a book looking at gender inequality around the world through her experiences with the Gates Foundation, within the US and her own marriage. Talking to NPR, which the Gates Foundation partly funds, Gates outlined the negotiations she went through after having children and wanting to return to work. …

  1. David Austin

    That's a great little story. I have a lot of time for Bill and Melinda, and everything they're trying to do with their foundation.

  2. paulll

    "Gates said that this is an example of unpaid labour carried out by women all over the world."

    Tempted to flick through the book to see if she comes up with any suggestions as to who she thinks should be paying her to parent her own brats ...

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      It's Bill.

      That's who she thinks should share the responsibility for childcare.

      Snowflake.

      1. paulll

        Re: It's Bill.

        It wasn't about sharing responsibility, she called it,"unpaid labour." Work done without remuneration. Implying, not necessarily that somebody else should be doing it, but that it should be remunerated. Which raises the question, who is supposed to be paying?

        I'd throw snowflake right back at you, it seems fitting enough, but it's a crap insult.

        1. LucreLout Silver badge

          Re: It's Bill.

          It wasn't about sharing responsibility, she called it,"unpaid labour." Work done without remuneration. Implying, not necessarily that somebody else should be doing it, but that it should be remunerated. Which raises the question, who is supposed to be paying?

          I get quite annoyed when people refer to parenting as "unpaid labour". Raising my kids is the most important thing I do, and while it sometimes may feel like hard work, it isn't actually work. It's actually what I enjoy doing the most.

          Why do people have kids then complain about it and expect to be recognised as some sort of martyr? It's illogical in the extreme.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It's Bill.

            You are all missing the point, although admittedly "unpaid labour" is an exceptionally crap phrase: "unacknowledged labour" would be a more appropriate way of putting it.

            It is a fact that in most (but obviously not all) mixed-sex households, it is the woman who does most of the "housework" in the broadest sense, whether it be cleaning, cooking, or whatever form of childcare duties.

            In some cases, yes, it's because of traditional gender roles and because the man of the couple is lazily quite happy with this situation (and it should go without saying that that's really not on, nowadays), but the point that some of the rather more screeching feminists unfortunately sometimes tend to forget is that employed work is also really quite mentally and physically tiring, so that it's really not surprising that either member of the couple can come back from a full day's employed work quite exhausted and not to keen to do the household chores.

            Rather than point the finger entirely at men (it being still more typical that the man does employed work full-time whereas the woman of the couple may be doing employed work only part-time, or is a full-time "home-maker"), we should really all be pointing the finger at hard-line capitalism which results in this poor work-life balance for all of us, and regards home-making as something which needs to be fitted in, rather than an intrinsic part of lives (which of course applies to all of us, whether we have children or not, although the demands are not quite the same).

            If we all could work 4 days a week or less, and perhaps with varied hours, it would be a lot easier for all of us to do and share household and childcare duties more equitably and evenly.

    2. MrDamage

      I bet she doesn't mention the unpaid labour that men do around the household.

      Killing spiders to start with. Rest of the world is fine, but in Australia, we'd need hazard pay.

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Coat

        I bet she doesn't mention the unpaid labour that men do around the household.

        Like building a "sleep box" for the wife so that she is properly rested in order to look after the children...

        https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/mark-zuckerberg-wife-priscilla-chan-sleep-box-children-facebook-a8890636.html

      2. Kangaroo Pete

        Spiders

        Most household spiders even in Australia are harmless, the household snakes worry me more: but yes, still no hazard pay.

    3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Her extremely rich husband perhaps could pay for a chauffeur?

      This is an issue with calculating national productivity that I don't fully grasp myself: your own housework and child care don't count as economic activity, but if you hire someone to do that for you, it does. So the UK government wants to improve economic statistics by having both parents work while children attend out-of-home day care that is partly subsidised by non-parents' taxes and partly very expensive for the parents themselves, because mathematically this is much better than someone staying home with their own kids, but in real-life terms less obviously so. I'm not saying Bill Gates should have been forced into the full time househusband role; I'm saying it's complicated.

      If it takes a village to raise a child then maybe put it onto the local tax...

      1. MarthaFarqhar

        "If it takes a village to raise a child then maybe put it onto the local tax..."

        Knowing my local council, they'd tax it at the county, district and parish level.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "[...] as to who she thinks should be paying her to parent her own brats ... "

      The structure of a developed civilisation is a ponzi scheme. We all need to invest in the next generations - particularly if we want to live reasonable lives in old age. Matching breeding rates and education to achieve an optimum sustainable level is a challenge for the future - starting now.

      If a developed cooperative society can hold itself together for a while longer - then AI and genetic engineering may replace the human race with something else.

      Historically civilisations have always been playing a game of snakes and ladders.

  3. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Chinese whispers

    > One of the other mothers explained that when they saw her hubbie doing the school run, it made it easier to get their own husbands to do the same.

    What the other mothers said: "I saw Bill Gates dropping of his kids at school this morning"

    What their husbands heard; "If you drop the kids off at school, there's a chance you'll meet Bill Gates"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Chinese whispers

      Indeed. Reality:

      Mother: *notices a father dropping off kids returns home*

      Mother: Hey hubby, I saw another Dad dropping his kids off today.

      Father: Cuck.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The book itself is of poor quality. Uneven pages and terribly cut. Content: exactly as expected."

    The joke almost writes itself, doesn't it?

    :)

  5. Matt Ryan

    Raising children is an example of "unpaid labour"?

    That's how human families units worked. If someone has to go out to do work, the other parent got to look after the kids (with some help from the previous generation once they had got rid of theirs). Traditionally this was the wife (woman) but as work was heavy manual labour and mothers less able to do it than fathers (men) on average. This was just how physical ability worked - it wasn't the patriarchy that deemed it to be the law.

    Things continued like this until quite recently. Firstly because the industrial revolution opened up many more jobs that were more suited to women, secondly the World Wars mean demographics changed (especially during the war) so women had to work. But mostly because people wanted more stuff (bigger house, BMW on drive etc) and so women went out to earn more money.

    Despite the liberation of women this has brought about, you could question how well it's worked overall. Within the last 30 odd years, women have gone from making the choice to work to needing to work as all the extra money has been spunked on more expensive housing and German motors. The family is not any financially better off than when Dad worked, Mum stayed at home and Dad's wages covered a 3 bed semi and a Ford Cortina and a decent life.

    Now they have a 4/5 bed executive slave box on a toytown estate with a massive mortgage, BMW on PCP and are stressed because they can't make ends meet. How liberating is that?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Slave box on a toytown estate

      Thanks for that brilliant summation of so much modern housing, those places creep the hell out of me and you've helped me realise exactly why. Not rich, but counting my blessings not to be in that situation.

      One thing I had to look up was PCP, seems to mean 'Personal Contract Purchase', judging from the context, though the thought of Phencyclidine was more amusing.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Slave box on a toytown estate

        'Personal Contract Purchase'

        Verbal inflation - Hire Purchase in the old days. Lawyers putting more words in the contract obviously contributes to greater GDP.

        1. Gio Ciampa

          Re: Slave box on a toytown estate

          The first P should be Perpetual surely?

          After you spend 3 years "paying" for a vehicle ... you hand it back, pick a new one, and start the cycle all over again...

          (Does anyone have any figures relating to the percentage of vehicles handed back vs paid off?)

          1. Clunking Fist Bronze badge
            Go

            Re: Slave box on a toytown estate

            "After you spend 3 years "paying" for a vehicle ... you hand it back, pick a new one, and start the cycle all over again..."

            After 3 years paying off a Toyota, you keep it another 12 years then give it to your children and buy another one.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Slave box on a toytown estate

              "After 3 years paying off a Toyota, you keep it another 12 years then give it to your children and buy another one."

              That's HP. You are paying back a loan for three years then you own the car. With PCP you are renting the car for three years at which point you either start again or pay a lump sum to buy the now used car at a "discount". Not forgetting the PCP for cars usually has a mileage/usage limit so even if you choose to return the car and start again, there may be a significantly high over mileage penalty to pay too.

    2. hmv Silver badge

      Re: Raising children is an example of "unpaid labour"?

      The history isn't quite as simple as that - pre-industrial revolution the "cottage industries" were exactly as described - home-based working done by usually women. The notion that we've always been in a situation where it was viable for men to work and women to mind the house (or the other way around) is a bit of a myth for most of history.

      As for both parents needing to work - yes there's a certain amount of unnecessary toys that are "needed", but it's also the case that over the last 30 years salaries have been growing slower than housing costs - see: https://www.advisorperspectives.com/dshort/updates/2018/10/16/u-s-household-incomes-a-51-year-perspective

    3. Swarthy

      Re: Raising children is an example of "unpaid labour"?

      I kind of agree with your first two paragraphs, but I have to disagree that it is greed/desire for better things that is driving the two-income family. Very rarely will any single income cover "a 3 bed semi and a Ford Cortina and a decent life". It generally takes two+ full-time incomes to cover a 2 bed flat, a mostly-running beater and "what's a life? I have to get ready for my other job".

      I am not saying that there aren't those that match your final paragraph, but middle-class has always been like that.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Raising children is an example of "unpaid labour"?

        I kind of agree with your first two paragraphs, but I have to disagree that it is greed/desire for better things that is driving the two-income family. Very rarely will any single income cover "a 3 bed semi and a Ford Cortina and a decent life". It generally takes two+ full-time incomes to cover a 2 bed flat, a mostly-running beater and "what's a life? I have to get ready for my other job".

        The above is a more recent phenomenon. Many of us in our 50's or older with a paid off mortgage managed quite nicely and since the mortgage is now paid off are doing quite well. When I bought my first house, it wasn't that unusual for a reasonable house to cost 3-4x an average salary. IIRC I was on what was then a fairly decent £9K and the house cost about £25K. I think an average salary is under £25K but getting a house for anywhere close to £100K isn't easy. (all figures "top of the head" guesses)

    4. LDS Silver badge

      "If someone has to go out to do work, the other parent got to look after the kids"

      You would be right if in most societies women both did (and still does) a lot of work plus looking after the kids. It is true that most heavy works were performed by men (especially hunting, which gave social status as well...) - but women did a lot of agricultural work too, plus weaving, sewing, grinding cereals, etc. etc - as they could keep the children close (even on their bodies...), or have it cared by elder women.

      It wasn't until a single man could earn enough to feed a family, and the industrial revolution reduced the number of hands required for some tasks, that women were left to care of the house only.

      Patriarchy did exploit women for a long time - although it's really not much different from how apes behave.

      Still many women worked in specific jobs even when machines became widespread, because more apt to perform them.

      Anyway human children require a lot of parental care to grow - we just need to decided if we want a society were parents take care of them, or parent leave them into collective structures with people paid to take care of them. There are no other choice - but not having children - it's not compulsory.

    5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Raising children is an example of "unpaid labour"?

      "This was just how physical ability worked"

      There's another physical ability involved. In a family with an unweaned child it was necessarily the mother who did most of the child care. Once the child was weaned the next one often arrived about 9 months later.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Raising children is an example of "unpaid labour"?

        "There's another physical ability involved. In a family with an unweaned child it was necessarily the mother who did most of the child care. Once the child was weaned the next one often arrived about 9 months later."

        Yes, because until recently, children were your pension investment and due to poor hygiene, medical options and other reasons, your pension could down as well as up, especially in the first 4 years of the lifetime of each investment. This is still the case in many parts of the world and even when lifestyles and life expectancy rises and welfare/pension systems are in place, there is a social lag of one or two generations before people begin to reduce the human investment in their pension.

    6. JimC

      Re:all the extra money has been spunked on more expensive housing

      Basically the vast majority of women in the country are working solely to make bankers and to a lesser extent estate agents better off. Even as a means of saving money for the care home fees mortgages are appallingly expensive. House price escalation has delivered nothing for the owners.

    7. WallMeerkat

      Re: Raising children is an example of "unpaid labour"?

      I would say that with the exponential rise of house prices, in part fuelled by TV shows telling the boomer generation that they should spend their pension dividends on more houses, and with the PCP for a 3 series working out cheaper than that of a Mondeo (modern day successor to Cortina), I would say that 2 people are working struggling to afford the 2019 3 bedroom semi and a Cortina (3 series).

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But... Women tend to pick their mates based on financial strength.

    Had she married a man who earned less than her, then I would think it would be strange in case that guy didn't do all those chores she mentions. Instead she married the richest guy in the world and expects him to reduce their family's total income or work harder than her (or both).

    In the name of equality: Marry a person who earns exactly the same as you and divide every chore 50-50. There needs to be a balance.

    1. Flak
      IT Angle

      'Equals' does not mean 'the same'

      Being equals in a relationship has to do with respect, understanding and division of labour. This does not mean a 50-50 split.

      In a relationship each person should give 100%. In real term split this may mean 30% - 70% one week or month, and then 60% - 40% the next (best thing is not to put values on chores in the first instance).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You can't possibly be in a relationship. No way.

    3. TrumpSlurp the Troll
      Trollface

      Richest man in the world?

      I think that he became that some time after she married him.

      Correlation does not imply causation, but still.....:-):-)

    4. Kane Silver badge
      Mushroom

      "But... Women tend to pick their mates based on financial strength."

      On that basis, my wife would never have married me.

    5. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      I think the popular saying is a fallacy - that if Bill Gates walks past a wallet in the street, he loses money if he stops to pick it up, because it is taking time out of his existing activity of getting richer and richer every day. Actually, he gets richer even while he is doing something else. That is capitalism; ordinary people are employed by, in effect, a big pile of money. The big pile of money, and the person who owns it, are enriched by your laboring; the benefit to the person who does the work is secondary.

      Likewise, taking time to drive the kids to school does not retard growth of Bill Gates' pile of money; it does it by itself (with help from various human beings who are not important, as I explained).

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "She said after about three weeks she noticed an increase in other fathers doing the school run. One of the other mothers explained that when they saw her hubbie doing the school run, it made it easier to get their own husbands to do the same."

    Nothing to do with the husbands wanting a chance to hobnob with a billionaire?

    1. WallMeerkat

      For the slim chance for potential professional networking with Mr Gates, I would happily move the kid to that school and drive them in early and wait :D

  8. ds6
    Pint

    Oof, calling contraceptives woman-empowering is going to get a lot of people after her goat...

    It makes sense, though. In the usual social climate the woman takes care of the kids. No kids, no work. Pill or tubes tied equals no kids. Simple math. And you still get to bone like two skeletons hitting eachother at mach 3.

    I want to read some, like, psuedo-feminism where everything gets turned on its head but can still be explained as empowering women.

    Here's a beer for all the moms out there.

    1. FIA

      Oof, calling contraceptives woman-empowering is going to get a lot of people after her goat...

      Ooooooh, I think you've really missed the point here.

      Also, I think that's pretty much illegal everywhere. (Except maybe Jersey; so long as you don't get caught).

      1. ds6

        How have I? The topic is incredibly volatile with how much politicking is involved in the societies and cultures of most first-world countries. I have not presented a stance on the subject, only that even mentioning it is likely to sow dissent.

        While potentially conflated, see the dislikes on my first post as an example.

        Is this her goat?

    2. Spanners Silver badge
      Facepalm

      @ds6

      going to get a lot of people after her goat...

      Anyone who is offended by that statement of fact needs to be wound up until the mainspring breaks!

      I have come across people who (incorrectly) try and tell me that contraception is unbiblical. You may not care about that statement but it keeps a lot of people poor.

      When I declined to agree with that statement, they equated contraception with abortion. Just remember the Monty Python song "Every sperm is precious"! I think some do feel that way...

      1. John 110
        Facepalm

        Re: @ds6

        @spanners

        "going to get a lot of people after her goat...

        Anyone who is offended by that statement of fact..."

        err ... Whoosh?...

  9. Chris G Silver badge

    "Gates cited this is an example of unpaid labour carried out by women all over the world."

    There are dozens, if not hundreds of examples of unpaid labour that women (and men) are obliged to do but this is not one of them.

    Taking children to school is a parental duty to be decided by the needs of both partners with regard to their other obligations such as work, health or even leisure.

    If Ms Gates regards this as labour and not a responsibility I think she may be out of touch with the realities of normal people.

    I used to take my daughter to pre school as I had the time and enjoyed being with her every moment I could, it also gave me a chance to chat with the teachers re her progress in general and to reinforce the message that she had specific dietary needs due to a metabolic disease that the teachers and the auxiliaries where prone to forgetting.

    I considered that a valuable and enjoyable part of my life as well as a responsibility with regard to the wellbeing and education of my daughter, my wife would collect her and make dinner as a normal part of being a mother.

    Or should we all be getting paid to be parents to our children?

    1. Zog_but_not_the_first
      Facepalm

      "Or should we all be getting paid to be parents to our children?"

      Absolutely! Happy memories of invoicing the kids for reading them a bedtime story.

      Sarcasm, obviously.

      1. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Re: invoicing the kids for reading them a bedtime story

        Not such a bad idea though. Keep a running total and invoice the little leeches once they start earning.

        I'm always amused by that funeral insurance ad where the old lady says 'and of course, we don't want to be a burden on out children'

        Why not? they were a bloody burden on you for long enough!

        Yes, the one with the arms that tie up round the back, thanks.

    2. Stork Silver badge

      I am not going to neither up- or downwote you.

      I think Mrs Gates includes in Labo(u)r "stuff that needs doing to make the family work". And the point is that in _many_ families both work outside the home but the woman does the major part of household tasks, whereas hubby takes responsibility for the World Situation and sports results. In the countryside in Africa, in many places women do the larger part of farming work.

      This is nothing new, but I think it is fair enough it is repeated. And yes, access to family planning empowers women. Why do you think conservative men are often against (this is as much to an earlier post)?

    3. Swarthy

      I believe her point is that it is mostly done by the women. She could have worded it better, rather than "unpaid" she could have said "unbalanced". If both parents are working, why is the mom expected to do the school run, cook, clean, etc.

      There are exceptions, but societally, we tend to expect a working mother to do all of the work of a stay-at-home mom, and the father has little societal pressure to pick up any of the slack.

      That is the point that Mrs. Gates was trying to make.

    4. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Sounds like money and privilege have skewed her view of the world. In the working world (not the high dollar exec world) everyone needs to pitch in for household chores and care of the kids. It's not really 50-50 but more like 110-110 of the effort. But then, what she's writing about seems to encourage entitled children. I'm guessing it's not a public school they go to otherwise there would be bus service provided by the school district.

      Get real, Mrs. Gates.

      1. Youngone Silver badge

        Sounds like money and privilege have skewed her view of the world

        She has never had any other view of the world, being a child of privilege who married into a world of even more privilege.

        Why anyone would accept the advice of someone like Melinda Gates is beyond me, I am sure she's a nice enough person, but to pretend she has any idea about how 99% of the world live is silly.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      We need more parents with that kind of attitude. I really really see the difference passed down to children whose parents are like that.

    6. WilliamBurke

      It's not about getting paid, but about using your time for unpaid duties. That's OK if it's evenly distributed, but 90% of childcare and household chores in most societies are done by women, even if they have a job. They have less time for paid work, so stay behind in their career, which re-enforces their role as the one who will make further career sacrifices, so it's self-perpetuating.

      1. ds6
        Joke

        Going to need some sources on that 90%. Single/stay-at-home dads need love too!

        And what if the parents are two lesbians? Is that just an intrinsic addition to that stat, or do we take into account which one is more butch? What if they're both equally butch? So many questions???

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I see your "joke alert", but I do have one friend who is (mostly) a stay-at-home dad whose female partner has a professional career (the fact that I only know one friend who has chosen this solution is quite indicative, I think. Good on him, though!).

          I have a handful of friends where both in the couple work part-time (to a greater or lesser degree each), but it is still (sadly?) true that in most couples it is still very much the woman who does the majority of the childcare related work. (And, yes, I expect that in gay or lesbian couples who have children, they also need to find a way to make the difficult decisions about how to how balance paid work and household/childcare tasks between them.)

    7. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Surprised that either of them take their kids to school.

      I live on the edge of a "good school district" in startup land.

      A colleagues kids had their friends over - one of the friends announced that the nanny had crashed the Range Rover again

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "[...] the nanny had crashed the Range Rover again"

        When I was young I had a Range Rover - a fun car that I could afford. People used to say that it must be great for attracting young women (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

        My reply was: 'Most young women don't know how expensive it is to buy and run. Those who would know say - "Mummy has one of those to do her shopping".

        1. WallMeerkat

          When I was young(er) I had a Alfa GTV - a fun car that I could afford (it cost £500 to buy). People used to say that it must be great for attracting young women (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

          It wasn't. It just seemed to attract boy racers. It also cost a small fortune to maintain.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In civilised countries, the children can cycle or walk to school by themselves.

      If they are too young to cycle or walk by themselves, either a parent can cycle with them, or a group of parents can take it in turns to organise a "walking bus" to accompany the children walking to school.

      (It's sadly very true that many of the English-speaking countries still seem to demonstrate the truth of Gandhi's comment about western civilisation, however.)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What?

    "Gates cited this is an example of unpaid labour carried out by women all over the world. She notes that her work with the Foundation showed her that poverty goes hand-in-hand with powerless women."

    I have nothing to say about this kind of mentality. We all do unpaid labour as a or for our family. We all do. Or did she charge the children or her husband? Should they charge her for doing the washing? I'm at a loss as to what is being fought here. Fight the problem, not the solutions around you. Give a good example, don't stoop to the bad one in revenge.

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: What?

      Sh'e's missing the important bit about labor and wages (like so many do).

      You get paid for labor because its sold just like any other commodity. In order to sell your labor you have to have someone to sell it to who's willing to pay the price that you're asking for it. If you want really get to the nuts and bolts its not a matter of how someone 'feels' -- you can't sell that -- but who's labor is worth more. Melinda probably has so much money (and Bill isn't exactly paid by the hour....) that she didn't cost out exactly how much a "40 minute school run cost".

      This idea that you can put an arbitrary value on you labor just because its you tends to afflict members of the middle classes who've never had to deal with the realities of the labor market. They grew up in a nice comfortable home (paid for by their parents), went through education (paid for by someone else) and maybe continued to be subsidized so never quite made the connection with the harsh realities of everyday life. When it hits it hurts (but then its just 'someone elses' fault....).

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: What?

        "This idea that you can put an arbitrary value on you labor just because its you tends to afflict members of the middle classes who've never had to deal with the realities of the labor market. "

        I think you mean upper classes, because most middle class income families nowadays have to work just as hard for their income nowadays.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: What?

      "We all do unpaid labour as a or for our family"

      It depends. She's in an income bracket where she can pay someone to do the washing, the cleaning, the cooking, the gardening....

  11. Paul Johnson 1
    Holmes

    So why are men still not getting it?

    "It's an elementary life 101 message.". Yeah it is. So why are so many men still unable to grasp it.

  12. Andy Bell

    "But make no mistake. Living in a capitalistic structure is a fabulous place to live." Said the wife of a billionaire.

    "thanks for the fascinating insight into how Capitalism is fabulous for the top 0.001%" Said everyone else.

    1. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

      ""thanks for the fascinating insight into how Capitalism is fabulous for the top 0.001%" Said everyone else."

      So, when are you moving to Cuba or Venezuela?

      (Fact: Sweden is not a socialist country: it is a capitalist country with strong social programmes.)

      1. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Fact?

        Sweden is not a socialist country: it is a capitalist country with strong social programmes

        No, it's a socialist country. A country where capitalism's aims are tempered by the notion of what's good for its citizens. Raw capitalism doesn't care about the welfare of the citizens. It divides the citizenry into 'customers' and 'non customers'. Customers are there to be exploited, and non customers to be ignored. This is why the US has such a lack of 'social programmes'. If someone isn't making money out of it, what's the point of it?

  13. SVV Silver badge

    Daddy, are we there yet?

    Bill got so fed up of this that he installed screens on the back of the front seats showing a progress bar to indicate how much of the journey had been completed. After 5km it showed 98%, not reaching 100% until the school was nearly in sight. The rest is history.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Daddy, are we there yet?

      That was RC1. The final released version reach 100% at least 5 minutes before arrival.

  14. 2+2=5 Silver badge

    That reviewer's comment

    > Content: exactly as expected. Not deep enough to inspire change. It's an elementary life 101 message."

    Must have been a man because he's completely missed the point. Gates is only asking for elementary changes because those are all that are needed to make a big difference. But those changes have to come from men, not from women. It's not hard to understand.

  15. Bogle
    Windows

    The school crawl more like

    A 40 minute drive to school?! That's absurd. Perhaps he's a very slow dirver or had a rubbish car. Seriously though, is that normal in Seattle or was the local school not considered good enough for the little precious ones so that they had to spend over an hour a day couped up in the back of the jalopy?

    Perhaps the Bill-mobile was a test-bed for Windows for Automobiles and had to be rebooted for 20 minutes every morning.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The school crawl more like..sounds about right.

      Bill lives over in Medina and Lakeside School is up by Haller Lake. In the North end of Seattle. So the 520 bridge and I-5 in 40 mins as a school run sounds about right. I did the opposite school run from Madison Park, across the lake from Medina, to Mecer Island. About 20/25 mins each way.

      As for the idea that more dads turned up at Lakeside on the off change of running into Bill on a school run. Thats not the way it works in Seattle. One would often see Bill and/ or Melinda with kids in the village in Madison Park. Apart from a polite nod or hello the locals would not make a big deal about the Gates being about. It was considered very rude to invade their privacy when they were doing family stuff. And rightly so. The only person who acted weird in Madison Park in my expedience, in the LA way, look at me - but I hate it when you notice me, was Jeff Bezoz when he lived there. A pretty unpleasant person by all accounts.

  16. Waseem Alkurdi

    powerless women

    Dear Ms. Gates,

    In 2005 in the United States, 1,181 women were murdered by their husbands, or three women per day on average.

    There is a whole world of difference between privileged folks like yours truly not bothering to share the load, as commentards above pointed out, and women who lose their lives to ungrateful drunkards. Perhaps we should focus our priorities?

    (However, her point about the tax system is good)

    (Perhaps I'm being too judgemental, as I haven't read the book?)

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: powerless women

      Do you realise "yours truly" refers to the writer/signer of a text? In other words, you are saying there that YOU, Waseem Alkurdi, are priviliged folk not bothering to share the load.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Poverty and wealth

    Grinding poverty generally tends to make life shitty for anyone, young or old, male or female.

    In one financial year, Microsoft made $600 million in India, a country with millions of seriously poor, and the Gates Foundations gave it $150 million, leaving a net transfer out of India of nearly a half billion.

    Lack of contraception is far from the only reason that people have historically had large families. A huge motivation was hoping that they'd produce enough children for there to be sufficient who survived epidemic disease, show loyalty in a daily struggle for existence, and turn out generous enough to look after their parents in old age. This still holds in large parts of the world.

    Unsurprisingly, I'll probably not be reading this book.

    1. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

      Re: Poverty and wealth

      "In one financial year, Microsoft made $600 million in India... and the Gates Foundations gave it $150 million,"

      That's terrible! How much money did you earn last year and did you give it all away? No? I thought not.

    2. Claverhouse Silver badge

      Re: Poverty and wealth

      Imagine what the Indians could save using better, and cheaper, OSes...

  18. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Happy

    I must admit, I rarely if ever drove my kids to school

    I walked or cycled with them, this being the Netherlands, and generally shared this duty equally with the missus. Who got to take them to school on a particular day depended largely on our teaching schedules. Taking kids to school was quite an enjoyable "chore", certainly beating changing diapers.

    Of course, as adolescence appeared on the distant horizon, the kids wouldn't be seen dead with their dad or mum bringing them to school. Their street cred would be out of the window! I mean, parents are SO embarrassing!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I must admit, I rarely if ever drove my kids to school

      In my childhood in England in the 1950s we all walked to school - abut half a mile (500m) without our parents from about the age of 7. Earlier if a slightly older sibling was walking with us. We weren't alone as the neighbours' kids mostly went to the same school. We had to cross several roads - which weren't deserted. The main bus route road through the town did eventually have a "Lollipop Lady".

      Nowadays my neighbours won't let even their 10 year olds walk half that distance alone - with only one quiet street to cross. I try to teach the kids the crossing ritual "look left, look right, look left again, if the road is clear - quick march".

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: I must admit, I rarely if ever drove my kids to school

        Minor pedant mode - half a mile is closer to 1km than 500 metres (805 metres, to the nearest significant figure).

      2. Dave559 Bronze badge

        Re: I must admit, I rarely if ever drove my kids to school

        Another pedant alert: in the UK, if you look left, right, left before crossing a (two-way) road, you're somewhat more likely to get knocked over than if you look the way Tufty advised! ;-P

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Taking kids to school?

    If the school is 20 minutes away (by vehicle), it is a "special" school bought and paid for. It might have been more liberating if the kids had gone to the local state funded public school (I believe that the terms are different in the UK) and left it at that.

    It is very empowering to be with kids of the neighborhood and interact with them both before and after school. It also provides a bit of exercise to walk (or ride a bicycle) to and from each day. In that case, you wouldn't need to have "daddy Bill" to take you there.

    I suspect that the $$$ spent on the private school when donated to the public school might have made a difference for many a student.

    Me? I went to high school (forms 3-6) in what is now one of the most expensive ZIP codes in the country (in housing costs). It was a bit cheaper then, and I did ride my bicycle to it a couple of times (I drove other times). I can't afford it now!

    1. stiine Silver badge

      Re: Taking kids to school?

      Bill & Melinda Gates have nothing on Greg Maddux, the former Atlanta Braves pitcher. When his child reached school-age, he examined the local schools, both public and private, and decided that none of them met his expectations. His solution was to found his own school for his child/ren to attend.

  20. fargonebastage
    Devil

    Paid? Hell, I want a raise and a bonus!

    Paid for driving my hellions around? Hell, I want a raise and a bonus! My daemon seed have leeched color from my hair, cost me my fit and trim physique, and likely stole some amount of sanity.

    Very soon they will be clawing for the keys to the car... you've been warned.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Paid? Hell, I want a raise and a bonus!

      You get child benefit don't you? So you're already getting paid for them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Paid? Hell, I want a raise and a bonus!

        "You get child benefit don't you?"

        Only for the first two. Not quite the replacement quota needed by the developed world.

        Nowadays there isn't usually nearby extended family to take some of the strain. Not that long ago kids would have unrelated mentors who helped them both intellectually and financially. That role is now viewed with extreme suspicion. The nuclear family really has shrunk to just parents and kids.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Paid? Hell, I want a raise and a bonus!

          >Only for the first two.

          "Yes" would have done.

          You are literally being paid to do: ✓(Jack)

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So she didn't just do old female 'pre-empowerment' strategy of finding a rich guy and marrying him then?

    Still pretty much rich, even if it was back in '87.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Living in a capitalistic structure. . . . .

    "Living in a capitalistic structure is a fabulous place to live."

    If you're Melinda Gates then I should bloody well hope it is fabulous, but Ms Gates is not everyone, being more the exception than the rule.

    Much human progress has happened in capitalist societies, but I have to wonder what Ms Gates has in mind when she refers to a "capitalistic structure" - maybe she means her house?

    I don't see any human society at any point in history that has been worthy of being called "fabulous", and I do really look.

    Her book refers to empowering women, which begs the question "What is the single thing that has most empowered Melinda Gates?".

    There is a clue within the question. . . . . . . . .

    1. joneda1

      Re: Living in a capitalistic structure. . . . .

      Regardless of whether the Gates' are fabulously wealthy or not, the point is valid if perhaps a little overstated. Across the globe there are very few examples where non-capitalist countries out-perform capitalist ones on standard of living and general quality of life. Of course the definition of "capitalist" here is fairly broad and includes the countries of Europe, for example, which in many cases include a good dose of socialism with their underlying capitalist structures.

      I think much of this expression of the quality of capitalist life is a necessary addition to her main statement about tax inequality, put there mainly to avoid the wrath of the right-wing loonies in America who would otherwise jump down her throat and brand her a communist for ever daring to suggest that America's tax system should in some way be re-jigged to actually provide some real benefit to the poor, rather than just dropping more money in the pockets of the rich (Trump tax cuts??).

      I would like to think (perhaps very optimistically) that this is a shot across the bow, a warning that perhaps the ultra-billionaires of the world are finally starting to realise that the pendulum needs to swing the other way. America is probably the worst in this regard (of anything bigger than a crackpot dictatorship like Brunei or half the Middle East), where wealth inequality is spiralling out of control.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gender inequality and innovation

    Unless they're as wealthy as Mrs. Gates, most women go out to low paying jobs of drugery. Fay Weldon put it as such in a BBC interview, the said interview has curiously disappeared from the website. ref.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gender inequality and innovation

      If your drugery jobs are low paying, you are selling the wrong drugs...

      At least thats the message the media and police seem to be pushing, every time they brag about how many millions in street value their latest drug bust has removed from the economy.

      On the other hand, te missus has a high(er) paying job of drudgery, and compensates by going on expensive holidays, while myself has a more engaging / interesting / lower paying job, and wants to use my time off to rest...

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Gender inequality and innovation

      Most "people" go out to jobs of low paying drudgery.

      FTFY

  24. WolfFan Silver badge

    What I want to know

    is... does she take responsibility for the single greatest cock-up in Microsoft history: Microsoft Bob. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Bob The horror. The horror. Anyone who _wasn't_ married to Bill would have be fired from Microsoft forthwith for that one.

    And, always remember, Comic Sans was created for use in Bob. That alone is enough to condemn Bob to Eternal Flames. And Melinda with him.

  25. JoMe
    Devil

    Dear Cthulhu save us

    Women are not equal to men, and men are not equal to women; that doesn't suggest that one is inferior to the other, or that we need to somehow "equalize" them. This is something that deeply disturbs me, the suggestion that because two things are different, one has to be inferior to the other. If you're paying attention, and read the statistics coming out of the schools and jobs industry, women in STEM fields are starting to overtake men in education, and already earn more than men in those fields when comparing same roles. However a woman that got their degree in lesbian dance theory isn't going to earn as much as a male VP at Microsoft. That just isn't going to happen, and big shock: it's got less to do with equality, and more to do with life and career choice.

    As for this bull--it about "unpaid work", what reject kind of parent cries about unpaid work when it comes to rearing children?? You discuss with your partner what the best plan of action is, and you proceed according to your best ability. Any parent griping about their kids being unpaid work should have their children taken away from them.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Dear Cthulhu save us

      "As for this bull--it about "unpaid work", what reject kind of parent cries about unpaid work when it comes to rearing children?? You discuss with your partner what the best plan of action is, and you proceed according to your best ability. Any parent griping about their kids being unpaid work should have their children taken away from them."

      Yes, exactly that. You invest in your children future. The "payment" is when or if they succeed in life (for whatever their or their child's personal definition of succeed is)

  26. fishman

    How we did it.

    My wife and I both worked when our kids were young.

    I would get up very early (4:45am) and get into work by 6am.

    She would get the kids up, give them breakfast, and drop them off at the sitter where they would catch the bus to school.

    I would leave work around 2:30pm, sometimes stop at the grocery store (I did all the grocery shopping), and pick the kids up from the sitter.

    Since she got home from work later, I'd start dinner and make the kids their school lunches for the next day.

    We have a house, and I did all of the yardwork. I also maintained our two cars and our sailboat. And did a fair bit of housecleaning. And took care of most of the pets. And, like most Reg readers, did all the family's IT work.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Virtue Signaling Soy Boys

    "Oh yeah? You’re busier than Bill fricking Gates??"

    Yeah, I have to work for a living....

    You make me sick.

  28. HildyJ Silver badge
    Holmes

    She never said unpaid labor should be paid, just shared

    All of us are responsible for some degree of unpaid labor. Parents have additional unpaid responsibilities. No one, including Melinda Gates expects to be paid for, say, eating food (which is unpaid labor). She is only saying that sharing responsibility should be done in a more equitable manner.

    For a few things it may come down to who's better at a task or who enjoys it more (just like a well run team at work). But to be equitable maybe one parent cooks dinner and the other shops for groceries. For some things, like taking kids to school, it may be a question of schedules (I used to go to work late and dropped our kids off, my wife went early and picked them up). For many things, like taking out the trash, it may be a case of "it's your turn." For almost nothing it is sex specific - I can only think of breast feeding and, in that case, I was responsible for getting the baby out of the crib and putting it back to bed.

    Ultimately, I can't see any arguments against parents attempting to share unpaid labor responsibilities.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is more to running a family than just housework

    Since I leave for work at 7:30am and get back home at 7pm, plus do all the garden work, home maintenance, car maintainance, IT work, and finances; while Mrs is full-time housewife of 3 older kids who can therefore have afternoon naps and attend mothers' social coffee groups; it seems unfair to expect my weekends and evenings to be filled with housework in an effort to split the cleaning equally. It is equally impossible for me to shuttle the spawn too and from school. Since I don't see the Mrs helping out with installing Exchange servers and debugging VPN links, why then should I be expected to do the laundry in the few hours I have free? Its about equal time and effort from both parties, not trying to split the cleaning work regardless of what else is done.

    If both parents are in full-time paid work, then an equal share of housework makes sense (though there will likely be arguments about how much cleaning is necessary...) but when one is out for 12h each day and the other is not then the other should take care of the house and family stuff.

  30. Olivier2553

    40 minutes school run

    That is what struck me as being ridiculous.

  31. Hans 1

    I take my daughter to school and pick her up "every single day" by bicycle, except when I am travelling, very rare, and I am a guy. I see lots of guyz in front the school every morning, ok, we represent maybe 30%, so there are more women, but still.

    Another aspect is, the French claim to live in the land of the bicycle, yet, only very few people bring their kids to school by bicycle.

    We are just three, 2 guyz and a woman. Now, I know the US is a big place, but is this a normal distance to a school in the US, is there not anything closer by ? I dunno where they live, but that would be a long ride for a teen.

  32. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    ...getting Bill to take their daughter to school twice a week...

    Fake News. More likely this scenario kicked off when Bill switched on his pc one morning... and it told him... "downloading Windows Updates, please wait."

    Knowing how long this would take, he offered to take said daughter to school. 40 mins there, 40 mins back, that should have finished updating by that time.

    When he got to the school there were lots of other fathers there "bloody Windows 10 doing its updates again."

    After that success Melinda sent a bottle of plonk to the Updates Team which was tagged with the following message "Thanks guys/gals, can you do the same twice a week please? lol MG x"

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Back in Time for the Weekend

    For those who can view the BBC TV iPlayer. They are repeating a 2015 reality series "Back in Time for the Weekend". The first episode recreates the way many lower middle class families lived in the 1950s - but the structure is typical of working class families too.

    Their sample modern family of parents, teenage daughter, and 12 year old son are well chosen. The wife is currently the main bread-winner - and the husband stays at home as a "house husband" running a child-minding service.

    In the recreated 1950s home environment the roles are obviously reversed. Without giving too many spoilers - suffice to say that the wife is glad when the programme reaches 1959 with the advent of various home automation gadgets.

    The boy missed the freedom to roam that kids enjoyed back then.

  34. Claverhouse Silver badge

    40 minutes may seem a long drive each way, although it enables him to listen, really listen, to the kids; but looking up the exact school shows it costs $33k per child and is the egregious Gates' own alma mater.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lakeside_School_%28Seattle%29

    These sums are utterly tiny to him, but he obviously has an affection for the place, and once determined to place his children there, not all your piety nor wit, nor all the money in the world will shorten the distance.

    Of course, he's an idiot for not hiring a chauffeur; and she's an idiot for whining on behalf of her sex when so overwhelmingly wealthy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The school are idiots for not providing school buses from at least some appropriate locations (such as nearby rail/metro stations or bus interchanges, I do get that this sort of private school is inherently not really going to have a properly "local" pupil catchment area as such), so that neither parent actually needs to drive all the way there and further clog up the roads with an unnecessary and long trip.

      The logical solution would be for the parents of pupils at the school to get their children to their nearest rail/metro/bus stop that in turn gets them to a school bus pick up point, but, well, that's private schools for you, and the USA for you (notwithstanding that public transport is at least not entirely crap in at least some US metropolitan areas, although it could still be better).

  35. Tuanzuan

    Present, that is richest man in the world?

    That is the life that many people around the world desire. A happy life with everything. However, had she married a man who earned less than her, then I would think it would be strange in case that guy didn't do all those chores she mentions. Instead she married the richest guy in the world and expects him to reduce their family's total income or work harder than her (or both).

    In the name of equality: Marry a person who earns exactly the same as you and divide every chore 50-50. There needs to be a balance.

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