OMAHA, Neb. — Billionaire Warren Buffett is optimistic about America’s economic future because the nation has begun to unleash the potential of women.
Buffett’s views on the role of women appeared online Thursday in an editorial he wrote for Fortune magazine.
He said most of America’s prosperity was created using only about 50 percent of its talent: men. So he’s confident the country will prosper as more women excel in the workforce.
“For most of our history, women – whatever their abilities – have been relegated to the sidelines,” Buffett wrote. “Only in recent years have we begun to correct that problem.”
Buffett discussed the topic at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s business college Thursday and took questions from students. The talk was broadcast online at Fortune.com.
“Women just haven’t had the same chance,” he said.
Buffett, 82, said his two sisters were encouraged to set their sights on “marrying well” as a career goal even though they are just as bright as him.
“I only had half the workforce to compete with,” the billionaire investor said.
Buffett said he saw his friend, Katharine Graham, continue to doubt herself as she led the Washington Post Co. She’d been told throughout her life that men were better at business, and he said that attitude stuck with her even after her success.
Buffett encouraged the college students in the audience to make good choices in their careers because he considers character more important than brains when he’s hiring executives.
When it comes to investing, Buffett said anyone looking to manage other people’s money should learn everything they can and try to develop a track record of managing money.
“They won’t care about your gender if they think you can make them a lot of money,” Buffett said.
He also encouraged the students to make sure they don’t define success strictly in monetary terms.
“When you get to be my age … if the people you want to have love you love you, then you are a success,” he said.
Buffett is getting ready to face more than 30,000 Berkshire Hathaway shareholders this weekend. He is Berkshire’s chairman and CEO.
Berkshire owns roughly 80 subsidiaries that include railroad, clothing, furniture and jewelry firms. Its insurance and utility businesses typically account for more than half of the company’s net income.
The Omaha, Neb., company also has major investments in companies such as the Coca-Cola Co., Wells Fargo & Co. and International Business Machines Corp., better known as IBM.