In March of 2015, Reddit’s former CEO Ellen Pao lost a widely publicized discrimination case against venture capital giant Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers. Despite the loss, Pao’s advice for tackling sexism and racism in Silicon Valley is to continue to “Speak up.”
Pao published an essay about her battles with discrimination in law and tech on Lena Dunham’s website Lenny.
“Unfortunately, some people just don’t treat men and women, white and minorities, heterosexuals and LGBTQs as equals. We could all work harder and better than everyone else, but we weren’t getting a fair shot to rise to the top,” Pao observed after entering the tech industry.
Yet, according to Pao, it’s (gradually) getting better. She cites women and minorities’ willingness to share “others’ bad behavior, data, and their own experiences publicly” as the main source of progress, and encourages people to continue to take part in public conversation about issues affecting them.
Pao’s high-profile discrimination case, though unsuccessful on surface-level, initiated conversations that lead companies like Apple, Google and Twitter to actively pursue diversity in their workforces.
Reddit users complained that Pao was engaging in censorship when she shut down five forums associated with online harassment. After receiving a petition with over 200,000 signatures for her to step down, Pao resigned from her position of interim CEO.
“I was called the ‘most hated person on the Internet’; a recent article even called me a ‘pariah of Silicon Valley’,” Pao admits. In the face of such hostility, she continues to advocate boldness and offer solidarity: “Don’t be silent… You are not alone. There are millions of women and men who are supporting you and want you to succeed.”
Article via CNET, November 10, 2015
Photo: Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network 2014 – Austin via Dell Inc. [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]