Ellen Pao lost – but women are the real winners

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On Friday, venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers was cleared of gender discrimination allegations – plaintiff Ellen Pau may have lost her case but experts say the real victory belongs to women.

“This case has been a real wake-up call for the technology industry in general and the venture capital community in particular,'' said Deborah Rhode, a law professor at Stanford University who teaches gender equity law.

Pau took legal action against Kleiner Perkins after she felt she had been skipped over for a promotion due to her gender and was allegedly subjected to a series of sexist indignities, including; being given a book of erotic poetry from a partner, being asked to take notes like a secretary at a meeting, being cut out of emails and meetings by a male colleague with whom she broke off an affair, and being pressured to talk about pornography aboard a private plane.

While Kleiner Perkins didn’t have to cough up the $16 million Pau was seeking, Rhode says the prominent firm didn’t come out unscathed and the venture capital industry in general will have to do some serious damage limitation.


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