Former Netflix executive donates millions to Durham University to help women in tech

David Prior's picture

Dr Neil Hunt, one of the driving forces in the creation of Netflix, has donated $3.5m to Durham University in a move to get more women into leadership roles in the tech sector.

Dr Hunt, who studied at Durham in the 1980s, became the streaming giant’s first chief product officer in 1999 and was instrumental in the company transforming from an online DVD rental service to one of the leading streaming platforms in the world. He left in 2017 and now works with AI healthcare start-up Curai.

The donation, which will go to the university’s computer science department, will be directed towards projects that aim to tackle underrepresentation of women in senior tech leadership positions, and also to establish new scholarships for students from low income backgrounds.

He said: “Today’s high-tech industry is fiercely competitive for talent, and we cannot afford to shut out 50% or more of the potential from even getting to the starting gate. Women make up just 15% of computer science graduates - a figure that continues to fall - and this cries out for correction.

“My education at Durham University was a key stepping-stone to the success that I have been fortunate to enjoy in my career, and I want to maximize the opportunities for those who follow. I hope my gift will inspire others – in industry and in education – to cultivate future generations of innovation and leadership from all walks of life.”

Professor Gordon Love, Head of Computer Science at the university, said the donation would be "absolutely transformational".

He added: "The Hunt Programme will be pivotal in helping us to create vital scholarship support, ensuring talented students from all backgrounds can study Computer Science here and access formative industry experiences which will shape their future careers."

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