On the subject of Ellen Pao

The answer, if Ellen Pao’s experience is anything to go by, is that you can’t.

Last month, Pao lost a sexual discrimination case against her former employer, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. The trial included descriptions of a “boys’ club” atmosphere, including all-male trips and inappropriate advances from senior male partners to junior female colleagues. Or, as Pao herself has since described gender bias in Silicon Valley, “death by a thousand cuts”.

Yeah, but jury. The finders of fact said this isn’t gender bias.

In other words, Pao was being a bit twee about things. Get over it……

21 thoughts on “On the subject of Ellen Pao”

  1. I’m sure men who work on production lines staffed mainly by women could say the same thing about the “girls club” atmosphere. Would it be appropriate for the women to talk about their feminine problems in front of these males?

  2. So Much for Subtlety

    Or, as Pao herself has since described gender bias in Silicon Valley, “death by a thousand cuts”.

    I wonder what on Earth she means by that? It sounds bad. On the other hand she is the CEO of Reddit. So she hasn’t been sliced too badly. She has a new policy though:

    “After losing a sex-discrimination lawsuit in Silicon Valley last week, Ellen Pao continues on her crusade to bring gender equality to the tech world, but this time with a focus on her home turf. As Reddit’s interim CEO, Pao said she wants to eliminate salary negotiations from the company’s hiring process. In her first interview since the lawsuit, Pao told with the Wall Street Journal Monday that the plan would help level the playing field. ‘Men negotiate harder than women do and sometimes women get penalized when they do negotiate,’ she said. ‘So as part of our recruiting process we don’t negotiate with candidates. We come up with an offer that we think is fair. If you want more equity, we’ll let you swap a little bit of your cash salary for equity, but we aren’t going to reward people who are better negotiators with more compensation.'”

    Sounds like she wants to recruit the shy, the stupid and the clueless.

    But the incentive is there for employers to step up instead. We know it makes business sense for bosses to want the very best of the talent pool to pick from, not just the best of the white, male talent pool.

    If the incentive was there, you might think companies would have picked it up. Instead they have to be forced to do so by law. Which suggests that they are picking the best of the talent pool. I mean look at Google’s growth. Or Intel’s. Or Facebook’s. Just how much faster do you think they could have grown if they had their required quota of one legged Welsh lesbians on their Boards?

  3. Silicon Valley wants to buy talent, regardless of gender of said talent.
    Trouble is, it’s mostly men who are prepared to put up with the hours and the boredom of making wizzoweb work.
    So not the fault of the employer that you end up with a sort of boys’ club. Indeed, it would be fairer to blame women in general.

  4. But juries are finders of facts, and that is the problem. Facts exist in the objectivist paradigm which is overtly masculist. Women need a different paradigm – the test for sexual discrimination should be if a woman feels sexually discriminated against. If she does feel she has been sexually discriminated against, then she has been sexually discriminated against.

    Men on the other hand, seeing as they reside in the objectivist paradigm, can continue to put their sexual discrimination cases in the hands of objectivist juries.

  5. @bif,

    OT I know but what is all this talent? It seems to consist of forcing unwanted “updates” on my gizmos. I swear I spend more time being forced to update a smartphone than actually using the bloody thing. These updates might bring orgasmic new functionality to the developer who enjoys thinking in terms of multidimensional flow-charts, but to the user, moving all the buttons they are used to around every few weeks for the hell of it is immensely frustrating.

  6. So Much for Subtlety

    One of the American blogs had something earlier this week about how the Left never loses. If they win, they win. If they lose, they immediately begin self-congratulation about how much everyone has had their consciousness raised.

    He said that about the Rolling Stone libel. But it applies perfectly here.

  7. So Much for Subtlety

    bloke in france – “Silicon Valley wants to buy talent, regardless of gender of said talent.”

    To the point where they are not merely one of the largest lobbies for lax immigration visa policy but that the larger companies operated a secret illegal conspiracy to hold down wages for programmers. They are unlikely to have passed over any talent just because they had the wrong chromosomes. I mean, come on, they gave Dennis Avner a job.

    But pointing that out would be part of that heteronormative patriarchal logicivist paradigm I hear about so much.

  8. BiG-

    Indeed. That is also the reason that Feminism relies on “consciousness raising”, in which women reach consensus in a an oppressive peer group situation. Because women need to be protected from false consciousness that may cause them to feel the wrong things and thus as tools of the patriarchy undermine their sisters.

    I once again make my usual recommendation that anyone interested read Catharine Mackinnon, who basically wrote the book on legalist feminism.

  9. The FT had an article earlier this week quoting two leading female members of the Silicon Valley elite, who had achieved success on merit, saying they wouldn’t want anyone thinking Ellen Pao represented *them*. Sorry, can’t remember the mames.

  10. So Much for Subtlety

    April 7, 2015 7:42 pm
    Pao bias case risks setting back cause of tech sector women

    Donna Dubinsky, co-founder of the pioneering handset firms Palm and Handspring, agreed that the case exposed the small slights and “unconscious bias” often faced by women but she said Ms Pao’s depiction of Silicon Valley as a place of blatant discrimination was a serious distortion.

    “Part of the trial was Ellen Pao arguing about these silly little things,” Ms Dubinsky said. “If you’re going to get anything done in the work environment, you’ve got to get thick-skinned.”
    The kinds of situations brought up in the trial showed that “there’s too much grey area in this gender bias issue” to be dealt with in court, said Tracy DiNunzio, chief executive officer of Tradesy, a start-up whose backers include Kleiner.

    “The issue [of discrimination] was talked about in damaging ways — I found the case upsetting from beginning to end,” Ms DiNunzio said. “I don’t feel Ellen Pao represents me as a woman in tech.”

  11. SMFS: ‘Sounds like she wants to recruit the shy, the stupid and the clueless.’

    Of course she does. Why would she want to hire anyone who’d compete with her?

  12. So Much for Subtlety

    JuliaM – “Of course she does. Why would she want to hire anyone who’d compete with her?”

    Or sue her for sexual harassment, come to think of it.

  13. BiG, I don’t know what phone you’ve got, but if it’s moving your icons around on update, something’s gone very wrong somewhere!

  14. “Small slights”. This. Everyone who steps out of their house will ‘suffer’ small slights every day. It just happens. Only the paranoid believe them to be evidence of a conspiracy.

    “He bumped into me in that busy train because I’m a woman!”

    “That bus full of people drove past without stopping because I am black!”

    Unfortunately the Left has somehow convinced a very large number of people that Life not being a bed of roses for them is all because of a conspiracy against them. It is a remarkable achievement.

  15. SadButMadLad,

    “I’m sure men who work on production lines staffed mainly by women could say the same thing about the “girls club” atmosphere. Would it be appropriate for the women to talk about their feminine problems in front of these males?”

    And not even “feminine problems”. I’ve worked at a couple of places where there was a book club and if you even tried to show an interest in it you got a frosty reception.

    If anything, women are much more protective of these things than men are. Last time I went to something just for the guys was in the mid-90s and that was going to an evening with a comedian and some strippers. No-one would dare do one of those today, even informally in an office space.

  16. @Johnnnydub: LOL!

    @SBML: I have a small team of front line support – mostly middle-aged women (some part time) and one young lad, one elderly guy. The women are by far the worst for personal details expressed at top volume at breaks..

  17. So Much for Subtlety

    Justin – “When correctly spelt, “death by a thousand cuts” neatly sums up the Feminist Left.”


    The Left likes to sneer at Born Agains for refusing to accept Darwin, although, of course, when it comes to humans and especially human intelligence, they are far more seriously into denial than any Televangelist. A good example – Larry Summers was fired, partly for covering up for one of his colleague’s looting of Russia (he was sent as an economics advisor and some how his wife’s trades made them billionaires), but also partly for pointing out that MIT hired from the top end of the Bell Curve. Which is mostly male.

    It would be hard to find a credible scientist who would say otherwise. The more interesting Baron-Cohen at Cambridge says so. Now David Starkey has stepped into the fray with some very sensible comments. Including the obvious one that men tend to dominate the top and the bottom of the Bell Curve while women cluster in the middle.


    Baron-Cohen is protected because, well, he is an ethnic minority. But so is Summers and that did not help. Starkey is very Gay. Will that be enough to save him? They had a go at sacking him last time he said something about how vibrant and multicultural Britain has become. I am guessing that this will not be enough.

    The point being, anyone with an ounce of respect for the Science (which, dare I say it?, is settled) is that Silicon Valley ain’t going to be hiring a lot of women any time soon.

  18. @SMFS: thanks for that reminder about Baron-Cohen; his books have been on my Amazon wish list for ages, so I’ve finally pressed “Buy”.

    I’m particularly interested in his book about the autism spectrum. As I’ve discussed with john77 previously, our profession is heavily weighted towards men who would nowadays be diagnosed as being somewhere on that spectrum. Hopefully the book will help me understand their perspective a bit more.

    And as far as workplace male or female activities go: lots of men in finance play golf. Some do it because they view it as a means to network and get on; most (including me) because it is an enjoyable way of getting out of the house for a few hours. Some women do take it up as well, but the only ones who stick at it seem to be those with a talent for it. Most women just don’t see the point and get bored. It’s that male v female brain thing again.

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