A Legal Stand Against Gender Discrimination in Tech

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Ellen Pao, recent interim CEO of Reddit, knows first-hand the discrimination women in the technology and venture capital industries face. In response, she recently took legal action against her former employer, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a high-profile venture capital company. Her claim was that the company discriminated against her and suppressed opportunities for her promotion. They also fired her just after she filed the suit, which she considered further evidence for their discriminatory practices.

Apart from Pao’s personal experience, the gender gap in venture capital firms is large, with only 6% female partners in the whole of the industry, according to a Babson College study.

Given the high court costs, she is unable to continue pursuing her case. However, rather than settling and staying silent on the issue, Pao walked away from the case. While she had to pay the $276,000 court costs alone, she will not be legally required to keep silent about her discrimination.

Pao recently told the Wall Street Journal that she feels “gratified that my actions have encouraged others to speak up about discrimination in venture capital and technology more broadly. I am encouraged that companies are taking more action to quantify and address the disparity of opportunities for women and minorities.”

Joelle Emerson, who founded a diversity consulting firm, considers cases like these to help bring the issue of diversity in tech to the forefront. It is clear that drawing attention to these topics, particularly in the legal realm, is a positive step in achieving gender parity in these industries.

Source: Emily Peck, Huffington Post