Ellen Pao Testifies Her Sexism Complaints At Kleiner Perkins Weren't Listened To
While the rest of the tech world was freaking over the Apple Watch on Monday, Ellen Pao testifying in her Silicon Valley gender discrimination case. Pao, now the interim CEO of Reddit, says that when she worked for venture capital giant Kleiner Perkins, she was the target of discrimination she claims went on for more than six years. Pao says she dealt with retaliation from a partner with whom she had a brief affair and that she was not given access to company events, which in turn meant she lost out on promotions — all of which she believes to amount to a pattern of gender-related discrimination. Pao was fired from Kleiner Perkins in 2012, and is seeking $16 million in potential lost wages.
For its part, Kleiner Perkins says Pao did not have the skills to advance (despite holding degrees from Princeton and Harvard), and most of the witnesses from the firm thus far have testified that she was "negative," "entitled," and — I quote — "not a warm and fuzzy person."
During Monday's testimony, Pao contradicted some of the previous witnesses' assertions that she was not able to identify investments for Kleiner Perkins, reported The Washington Post. Pao testified that in the fall of 2007 she tried to bring a little company called Twitter to the attention of a senior partner. Kleiner Perkins passed over Twitter, deciding not to invest in the company that has become a social media giant. Um. This seems like a pretty clear misstep.
Pao testified Monday that after she broke off an affair with colleague Ajit Nazre, who was "relentless" in his pursuit of her, he would allegedly cut her out of email exchanges and failed to invite her to meetings. This made it difficult to get information from him, she added. When Pao complained to his supervisor, senior partner Ray Lane, Pao testified that Lane not only failed to involve the firm's human resources department, but that he relayed the story of how he met his second wife at his former workplace.
It had led to the wife having to quit because the two couldn't work together, he allegedly said, which Pao took to mean she would be expected to quit her job at Kleiner if she couldn't figure out how to get along with Nazre.
What's a little dispiriting to note in all the coverage of the Pao trial is the repeated focus by her attorneys trying to make her appear not just credible, but likable. It seems the foundation of Kleiner Perkins' defense is that Pao was hard to get along with, which reminds me of the myriad reasons The New York Times gave for firing Jill Abramson as executive editor. Remember how "pushy" Abramson apparently was?
Despite all the advances women have made in business, it still seems that a large swath of companies in corporate America requires its women to be appealing above all else, regardless of how well she's doing her job.
Pao's testimony is expected to continue into Tuesday.
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