Ellen Pao Loses Gender Discrimination Suit, Moves the Conversation Forward

Ellen PaoThis week’s not great court news: on Friday, a San Francisco jury ruled against Ellen Pao in her gender discrimination suit against venture capital titan Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.Pao claimed that Kleiner Perkins denied her a promotion and fired her on the basis of her gender. Her suit described dozens of incidents of subtle sexism—the kind, as New York Magazine writer Annie Lowrey writes, “Where one reasonable observer might see nothing going on and another reasonable observer might see clear evidence of sexism.” Pao also alleged that she was “pressured into an affair” with a colleague and then punished after she ended things. Nonetheless, jurors did not find enough evidence to suggest that Pao’s termination was the result of discrimination.The debate is raging as to whether Pao’s loss is a setback for women in the workplace or an important step that built awareness of sexism in tech despite the verdict. There is also one silver lining that isn’t directly tied to the outcome: the emergence of a “new and powerful Silicon Valley female press corps,” as talented female reporters showed up to cover the trial in droves. We hope they keep the pressure on the Silicon Valley boys’ club, because as Matt Weinberger at Business Insider put it: “Ellen Pao lost, but gender discrimination in tech is real.”