Ellen Pao remembers shock of watching Anita Hill hearings

Ellen Pao remembers shock of watching Anita Hill hearings

Ellen Pao, is seen leaving San Francisco Superior Court in March 2015. A jury found no gender bias against Pao, a former employee at Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers but her case drew attention to the treatment of women in Silicon Valley.

Ellen Pao remembers shock of watching Anita Hill hearings

Anita Hill

A: I am seeing change at earlier stage start-up companies. For a lot of big companies, the ship has sailed. They are trying to bolt on diversity and inclusion and we've seen from the numbers at Google, it's hard to change.

I think when I talk to the CEOs and founders of early stage start-ups with fewer than 100 people or even 50 people, they are aware of all of the reasons for making diversity and inclusion part of their company from the early days. When you think about how they're hiring, how they're promoting people, how they're incorporating people onto teams, how they're designing their teams, it's much different than when I started in tech.

A: It was interesting. We made a conscious choice to focus on gender because it simplifies it for a jury. The law requires you to prove that it was slightly more than 50% due to the reason you are stating for discrimination, and we focused on gender. There are definitely examples of racism, examples of ageism, in my experiences. And that combination is hard to unravel because all of it is tied together.

A: I'm sure it did. I didn't have a chance to talk with many of the jurors, so it's hard to know. I think there's an expected set of behaviors and a lot of stereotypes around being diligent, around working hard, around not complaining. I think that plays into both the workplace and juror perception.

A: I think this is a question that we are still figuring out. But one of the key things has always been: Bring other people on board with you. So when you get asked to do that project, can you bring somebody else on board with you? When you get asked to do that panel, can you bring somebody else on board with you? And the answer isn't always going to be yes, but the fact that you ask and the fact that you point out the problem with the all-white team or the all-white panel is something that raises awareness.

A: I think it's how you stay positive going through all of that. For me, it was hard and it was definitely a struggle. I'd be curious to see how she made it through all of that and then continued on this positive track to instituting change and continuing to fight the battle in other ways. I'd be curious to hear what were the things that kept her going in such a public fight with such powerful people staring her down day in day out.

A: I knew I was right and, at the end of the day, that's what drove me through the whole thing.



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