Dear Ellen Pao:
Let me start off by saying #ThankYouEllenPao for being unafraid to throw your stiletto into a lion den full of size 12+ men shoes.
I read about your trial with interest because you came across to me as a strong woman character fighting an issue that has been swept under the tech rug for a while now. As I became engrossed in the case, it quickly became clear to me that it was going to be difficult for you to be the victor against the defendant. I felt that your fight was not based on whether you were telling the truth, but that it was more about a woman in tech daring to challenge one of Silicon Valley’s most famous venture capital firms, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB).
Having once held the role of junior investing partner at KPCB, it must have been a difficult decision to go ahead with your case of discrimination. It went from a legal complaint to a nation wide concern that amplified the lack of diversity in the technology industry. It is because of this that your court case has succeeded in prompting the long overdue debate about women’s place in technology today.
I was on tender hooks on Friday 27th March regarding the outcome of your case. When I heard that the jury had rejected your claims of gender discrimination, I was disappointed for you but my spirits where quickly lifted when I listened to your words during the brief news conference, “If I’ve helped to level the playing field for women and minorities in venture capital, then the battle was worth it” . You made me realise that companies like KPCB might have won the battle but they have certainly not won the war.
Now as interim chief of the social media news site Reddit, some still dare to label you a ‘femizazi’. I hope that such negative labels will not stop you from flying the flag for those who are yet to find their voice. I know that you might be the reluctant ‘war hero’ against discrimination but I do believe that a woman with the ‘balls’ to challenge should be applauded for taking a stand against the veil of denial that sexism still exists in today’s workplace.
Although you lost your case against KPCB in the court of law, you most certainly won it in the court of public opinion. You have shown that there is no place for ignorance or malice when it comes to the progression for women in tech. A person should solely be judged on their skills and performance and not on the fact that they are in possession of two x chromosomes.
From this day forward whenever someone whispers the name Ellen Pao to me I will immediately hear the words of Ayn Rand “The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me”.
ABOUT KPCB: Founded in 1972, KPCB is a venture capital that The Wall Street Journal was quoted as describing it as one of the “largest and most established” venture capital firms. . Focusing on global investments KCB specialises in three practice areas – digital, green tech and life sciences, KPCB specialises in investments in incubation and early stage companies and has backed entrepreneurs in more than 500 ventures including AOL, Amazon.com, Zynga, Google and Netscape to name a few.
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