Ellen Pao on Silicon Valley sexism

Ellen Pao, a former Reddit chief and partner at Kleiner-Perkins (which she unsuccessfully sued over discrimination), explains How Sexism Works in Silicon Valley.

Sometimes the whole world felt like a nerdy frat house. People in the venture world spoke fondly about the early shenanigans at big companies. A friend told me how he sublet office space to Facebook, only to find people having sex there on the floor of the main public area. They wanted to see if the Reactrix — an interactive floor display hooked up to light sensors — would enhance their experience. At VC meetings, male partners frequently spoke over female colleagues or repeated what the women said and took the credit. Women were admonished when they “raised their voices” yet chastised when they couldn’t “own the room.” When I was still relatively new, a male partner made a big show of passing a plate of cookies around the table — but curiously ignored me and the woman next to him. Part of me thought, They’re just cookies. But after everyone left, my co-worker turned to me and shrugged. “It’s like we don’t exist,” she said.

I'd forgotten the grossness of the harassment Pao and other women reported. Kleiner Perkins sounds like the kind of place where women point out a missing stair only to find out about the gentlemen's elevator.

Ajit persuaded Trae to go to New York with him for an important work trip. He said they’d be having dinner with a CEO who might be able to help one of Trae’s companies. But when they arrived, Trae saw that the table was set for two. The trip was just her and Ajit, in a hotel together for the weekend. Later that night he came to her room in his bathrobe, asking to be let in. She eventually had to push him out the door. Later, when she told one of the managing partners about the fake trip, he said, “You should feel flattered.”

After Pao sued, Kleiner Perkins hired Brunswick, a PR company that boasted about using troll farms for "reputation management." So -- buried lede! -- it's entirely possible much of the commentary about Pao on the internet was posted by them. Another prelude to patterns seen in the presidential campaign.

I believe they enlisted one to defame me online. Dozens, then thousands, of messages a day derided me as bad at my job, crazy, an embarrassment.

As a reminder, this is what commentary about Pao looked like:

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