Ellen Pao and the 'Second Class' Workers of Silicon Valley

Pao opens up about sexism and her discrimination lawsuit
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 25, 2017 6:53 PM CDT
Ellen Pao Opens Up About Sexism in Silicon Valley
Ellen Pao is opening up about her experiences with sexism in Silicon Valley and her failed discrimination lawsuit.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

Two years after losing a high-profile sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit, Ellen Pao is opening up about her experiences with sexism in Silicon Valley. "Sometimes the whole world felt like a nerdy frat house," Pao says in the Cut, which has a lengthy excerpt from her new book, Reset. During her seven years as a junior partner at venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Pao saw men speak over women and take credit for their ideas during meetings, women passed over for promotions despite working there twice as long as their male counterparts, and male partners take an expensive ski trip with clients while leaving female partners behind. She once had a CEO discuss porn stars, sex workers, and the type of women he likes with her.

After an independent investigator hired to look into Pao and another woman's claims of harassment and bias seemed more interested in discussing whether porn was played in the office and the career of Sasha Grey, Pao had a realization: In Silicon Valley, employing women was a way "to have workers who were overeducated, underpaid, and highly experienced, whom you could dump all the menial tasks you didn’t want to do on, whom you could get to clean up all the problems, and whom you could create a second class out of." She says her lawsuit was a way "to speak out about what I'd seen" as "one of the only people who had the resources and the position to do so." Read the full story here for more on Pao's insights into sexism in the tech industry. (More Longform stories.)

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