Ellen Pao's gender discrimination lawsuit has captured the attention of women across the country, but the venture capital firm she's suing isn't going down without a fight. On Monday, a high-ranking Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers employee, Mary Meeker, testified that she never saw any discrimination at the Silicon Valley firm. Meeker, a senior partner at Kleiner Perkins, took the stand as a witness for the defense and completely disagreed with all of Pao's claims of sexism within the company.
Pao is suing Kleiner Perkins for $16 million because she claims the firm didn't promote her to senior partner due to her gender and that she was fired in part because she raised concerns about sexism in the office. Now the interim CEO of Reddit, Pao is seeking lost wages and future earnings on top of damages from her former employer. Pao's complaint for damages also details company dinners and ski trips that excluded women and a Kleiner Perkins male partner's explanation that women weren't invited to one dinner because they would "kill the buzz."
However, Meeker, called the "Queen of the 'Net" by some in the tech biz, testified that Kleiner Perkins is "the best place to be a woman in the business." She's worked at the prestigious firm since 2010 and is the highest-ranking woman there. Before joining Kleiner Perkins, she was a managing director and analyst at Morgan Stanley. She told an investigator looking into sexual harassment at Kleiner Perkins following Pao's complaints that the firm was "the nicest, sweetest, tamest place" compared to her time on Wall Street, according to Mashable.
In her testimony for the lawsuit, Meeker said she had never been excluded or passed up for promotions based on her gender. She says:
When you have people from all walks of life, all genders, all races, it helps people make better decisions because we have different perspectives. Two women are more powerful than one. Three are more powerful than two. Four are more powerful than three.
Meeker also said she was invited, but unable to attend, an all-male company ski trip that Pao said she was not invited to because she's a women. Kleiner Perkins' defense hoped to use Meeker's testimony to undercut Pao's claims of discrimination. The firm has also pointed out in the past that it has one of the highest female-to-male employee ratios in the tech industry, which is known for its overall lack of women.
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