What Ellen Pao saw coming

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Ellen Pao had a rough 2015. She lost her high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins, one of Silicon Valley’s biggest and most powerful venture capital firms. She also stepped down as CEO of Reddit after a tumultuous tenure in which she came under withering criticism for, among other things, shutting down online communities devoted to shaming fat people and posting upskirt photos.

A few short years later, Pao’s 2015 looks prophetic. Her fight against Kleiner Perkins presaged much of the #MeToo movement. Her campaign to set some limits around what could and couldn’t be done on Reddit presaged the difficulties the social media giants are having as they try to rein in online harassment and fake news.

Ellen Pao, I’ve come to think, was the canary in Silicon Valley’s coal mine.

Pao is now the CEO of Project Include, and in this conversation, we talk about what’s changed since 2015 and how she thinks her 2015 would’ve been different if it had happened in this moment. We discuss how this era may be radicalizing young white men online and what, if anything, can be done about it. We talk about what it really takes to diversify a company — hint: much more than most companies are currently doing or are willing to do — as well as research showing diverse teams are more productive but less happy. And we look at how arguments about biological difference are used to justify the inequalities of our present society.

Much of what's obsessing us in 2018 is rooted in fights Pao has been waging for far longer. It's worth hearing what she's learned.

Recommended books:

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Beautiful Souls: The Courage and Conscience of Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times

by Eyal Press

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

154 episodes available. A new episode about every 5 days averaging 74 mins duration .