A female venture capitalist has lost a high-profile sex discrimination case that shone a spotlight on the “boys’ club” culture of Silicon Valley.

Ellen Pao, who worked as a junior partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, had accused her former employer of passing her over for the position of senior partner while her male colleagues were promoted.

After more than two days of deliberation, the jury of six women and six men on Friday found that Kleiner Perkins had not acted unfairly or unlawfully and that gender had not played a part in the company’s decision not to promote her.

Ms Pao said she filed the case as she “wanted something to change” in the industry, where sexism has become so pervasive it has been likened to the Wall Street of the 1980s.

The 45-year-old told the San Francisco Superior Court how she was excluded from an all-male dinner with Al Gore, former US vice president, and felt “very uncomfortable” hearing male guests of the firm talking about pornography on a private jet.

She was given menial tasks to do that were below her pay grade, “in order to embarrass her”, her lawyers had argued.

She also testified that one male partner was “relentless” in his pursuit of her and cut her out of email chains and meetings when she ended the affair upon discovering he was married.

After the verdict, Ms Pao told the courthouse that people around the world had reached out to her and told her that they had stories similar to her own.

“If I’ve helped to level the playing field for women and minorities in venture capital, then the battle was worth it,” she said.

Well, given that the jury found out that they’d done nothing wrong I’m not all that sure how much leveling has been done there.

And do you know what? I might fire a senior manager who pursued more junior colleagues for sex. But I certainly wouldn’t promote someone without the wit to work out whether a sexual partner was married or not before they became a sexual partner. It’s not as if this is a random meet in a nightclub after all, it’s easy enough to ask around at work if your boss is married or not, no?

13 thoughts on “Erm”

  1. Furthermore, Ms Pao is actually Mrs Pao.

    Her husband, according to Wiki, is Alphonse “Buddy” Fletcher, Jr. “a former hedge fund manager and founder of the Fletcher Foundation. His fund is in bankruptcy, and he is accused of civil fraud.”

    So we are invited to believe she broke of this affair because her co-respondent was married, not because she was.

  2. It’s good to know that the long struggle for women’s rights is now at the point of ensuring the fairer sex doesn’t have to hear discussions on pornography on the company Lear Jet.

  3. “As a lawyer, I congratulate myself on losing the case. I am now officially a poster girl for all the other millions of million dollar a month legal proofreaders who are discriminated against by an industry dominated by males and who struggle to put food on the table once a month for their starveling children while failing to resist the clammy embrace of a superior who might advance my career.”

    Frankly she doesn’t seem to be very bright. I wonder how she got the gig in Californica in the first place.

  4. Her reaction also perfectly encapsulates modern feminism in thinking that women around the world are going to be inspired by upper middle class venture capitalists. For modern feminism the battle is only about control of the One Percent, their peers.

  5. “she was excluded from an all-male dinner with Al Gore”

    If anything, this sounds like a reward.

  6. There is an old Chinese folk tale; it tells of a man who was given the chance to see Heaven and Hell. First of all he was taken to Heaven, and there was a great table laid out with sumptuous food, surrounded by diners, but the chopsticks were six feet long so that nobody could put food in their own mouth.

    He was then taken to Hell; again, there was a great table laid out with sumptuous food, surrounded by diners, and again the chopsticks were six feet long, so that nobody could put food in their own mouth.

    The man turned to his guide and said, “I do not understand, what is the difference?”

    And his guide said, “In Hell, you are having dinner with Al Gore”.

  7. So Much for Subtlety

    BigFire – “Since she’s currently CEO of Reddit.com, she doesn’t have to worry about future employment anytime soon, or until her current contract runs out.”

    Her boss couldn’t have tried too hard to seduce her then. After all she seems to have a perfect defence – “by the way, my husband is litigious and at high risk for HIV”.

    But Reddit? It figures. I hope she sues them for all they are worth. And then some.

  8. Gosh, and I thought venture capitalists, hedge fund managers, bankers etc were demons and scum, to be despised. Looks like they are in fact heroes and fine people if they have a vagina, which may surprise some people.

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