Ellen Pao discusses gender discrimination and her new role at Reddit after losing sex-bias case

By Minda Smiley | Reporter

April 6, 2015 | 4 min read

Interim chief executive of Reddit Ellen Pao discusses the fallout from her sex-discrimination case against venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers for the first time since she lost the trial last month in a Q&A with the Wall Street Journal.

The 45-year old said that having her personal and professional life scrutinized throughout the intense four-week case was worth it because it started an industrywide conversation about gender bias not only in tech but in the broader realm of business.

A jury last month ruled that the firm didn’t sexually discriminate against Pao, and the trial drew widespread media attention due to the broader questions it raised around the treatment of women in the male-dominated Silicon Valley.

Ellen Pao

She declined to discuss trial proceedings in the interview but opened up about the aftermath and reactions from the trial, gender issues in the workplace, and her new role as interim CEO of Reddit as of November 2014.

When it comes to women battling unfair treatment in the workplace, Pao said that women receive criticism on both ends, either being accused of acting too aggressively or too timidly.

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She told the Journal: “From what I’ve heard from women, they do feel like there’s no way to win. They can’t be aggressive and get those opportunities without being treated like they’ve done something wrong.”

In terms of the environment in Silicon Valley, she said that while there is still a group of people who are interested in technology and making people’s lives better, there is also another pressure of making money quickly that has changed the overall culture.

In regards to equal opportunities at Reddit, Pao said that as part of their recruiting process, the company does not negoriate with candidates since men tend to negotiate harder than women and that sometimes women get penalized when they do negotiate.

“We come up with an offer that we think is fair,” she told the Journal. “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. We ask people what they think about diversity, and we did weed people out because of that.

She also said that she does want to be CEO of Reddit for the long-term and that she probably will do an ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA) feature on the company’s site.


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