Powerful Silicon Valley venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers—famous for backing Google and Amazon—won a gender discrimination lawsuit Friday filed against them by former junior partner Ellen Pao, who is currently interim CEO of Reddit.
Pao claims that she was passed over for promotions based on her sex and was fired for complaining about the discrimination in 2012. The suit was filed that year and asked for $16 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
Supposedly there had been many sexist remarks made by the defendants during Pao’s employment. She also claimed she had been retaliated against for complaining by not being invited to certain events and being poorly evaluated in a performance review.
Jurors And Judgments
The jurors themselves were divided over how to rule on this case, but came to the conclusion that she was fired for substandard performance. There were twelve jurors, and each of the four claims required a 9-3 decision.
Pao and the mainstream media are claiming that even though she lost the case, it is still a landmark since it is raising a conversation about women in STEM. And of course, by “raising a conversation,” they always mean “giving a lecture.”
The Huffington Post writes,
Despite days of courtroom drama about affairs, books of erotic poetry and office flirting, juror Steve Sammut, who mostly voted for Kleiner, said the decision came down to Pao’s effectiveness at her job.
“We were focused on the performance,” he said.
That seems to be the proper course of action. People should be promoted based on their performance, not their sex. Just because there were several inappropriate gestures made in the workplace—apparently by both Pao and her co-workers—does not mean she was discriminated against.
Women At Work
But even if she was fired for more than her substandard performance, the facts in the case suggest Pao was a troublemaker with little concern for professional ethics. If it were merely a matter of being denied a promotion, we could be more sympathetic to Pao as a person. But all the inappropriate behavior she allegedly engaged in—including an extramarital affair with partner Ajit Nazre—shows her to be more of a distraction than an addition.
Pao received a Valentine’s Day gift of erotic poetry from a senior partner Randy Komisar, which supposedly made her uncomfortable, except that she continued to seek him out for relationship advice and remained on good terms with him. The book is by Leonard Cohen, a Buddhist, and was supposedly selected by Komisar’s wife since Pao gave Komisar a statue of the Buddha for Christmas. Komisar himself is a Buddhist, as is the fashion in Southern California.
Komisar was also excluded from the dinner with Al Gore and the skiing trip Pao claims she was excluded from, merely for being a woman.
One point of conflict between Pao and Komisar was the legal startup RPX.
Another flashpoint in the case is a board seat at legal startup RPX that Pao said she was denied because of her maternity leave. The seat was instead given to Komisar because he “needed a win” in senior partner John Doerr’s words.
But emails revealed during Pao’s testimony last week showed that Pao was supportive of the move to give Komisar the seat. On Tuesday, Hermle displayed an email where Pao hesitated about being part of the board because Doerr had said that she might be busy with her maternity leave. Until that point, Komisar said, he never mentioned her pregnancy.
But Pao soon grew jealous of Komisar, telling him that the RPX board members “hated him” and that he should step down. Believing this was an act to take his position, Komisar asked Pao to cut off contact with the board.
“I felt it was a betrayal of confidence to talk to my partners about how to remove me and politick behind my back,” Komisar said. “I thought that was unforgivable.”
The way real equality works is that women get treated the same way as men. Most workplaces have policies against sleeping with co-workers. Most workplaces will fire you for trying to sabotage a superior. Most workplaces do not give the most coveted vacations and dinners to junior partners.
Which of the two parties is in the wrong here? It appears to me that both of them are. Although I think that Pao deserved to be fired sooner than she was, my gut reaction is, to quote Shakespeare, “A plague on both your houses.”
It appears that Kleiner Perkins may have been retaliating against her, although I also have little doubt that Pao is exaggerating the claims. Both appear to be amoral at best. A married man having a workplace tryst with a married woman. A senior partner giving an erotic book of poems and drawings to female coworker on Valentine’s Day and then lying that he didn’t realize it was erotic.
But it takes two to tango. Pao allegedy chose to have sex with Nazre on multiple occasions. Pao allegedly chose to betray Komisar after setting him up with the position with RPX.
Where was her husband Buddy Fletcher during all of this? On the east coast pursuing his own inflated career dreams. At the time of the lawsuit, Fletcher was filing his own against the famous Dakota apartment in New York for racial discrimination since they denied him an additional apartment after living there for 17 years.
Pao and her husband didn’t even live in the same timezones so they could pursue their inane desires. Is that even a marriage? It’s American idealism at its worst. Birds of a feather flock together, as the saying is, and it appears both Fletcher and Pao are bloated on vanity.
Hypocrisy Of The Public Reaction
Of course, the mainstream media is enabling Pao to play the discrimination card to her own advantage. She claims that she’s discriminated against for being a minority, and the young white liberals believe her regardless of the evidence.
If a man had been fired for substandard performance after sleeping with a coworker, he’d be crucified as an extortionist. But when a woman supposedly offers her pussy for advancement, suddenly it must be rape culture. And why wouldn’t she invoke her female minority privilege if she knew it would get her off the hook with the masses? She’s got a career to build, and the more innocent and victimized she looks, the more likely tech companies will be to white knight for her by giving her a job.
Still, that doesn’t make Pao any less of a snake. She is likely slandering people for things they didn’t do wrong. Perhaps cosmic karma will catch up to her, and tech companies will be scared to hire her because of the trail of destruction she left at Kleiner Perkins. As seems to be the pattern in her life, she is planning for the short-term and not the long-term.
Perhaps the feminists are correct that Silicon Valley has a culture of amorality, but they are wrong that the women are victims of that culture instead of integral proponents of it.
Read More: The Truth About Women In STEM