Person

Ellen Pao

Occupation:

Former Interim CEO of Reddit

Founder of Project Include

Ellen Pao is the former interim CEO of Reddit and the founder of Project Include. She rose to national prominence after suing her former employer, the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, for gender discrimination; she lost the case. [1]

Social media company Reddit hired Pao in 2013; she ascended to become interim CEO of the company in November 2014. She departed the company amid controversy; users blamed Pao for the ouster of a popular Reddit community liaison employee, while Pao alleged she received a number of death threats. [2]

After leaving Reddit, Pao founded Project Include, a left-of-center advocacy group pushing to chang employment practices and for increasing demographic diversity in the technology industry. [3]

Pao married investor Buddy Fletcher in 2007; as of 2019, the couple were in divorce proceedings. [4] Pao has publicly expressed a number of left-of-center political beliefs, supporting gun control[5] and favoring banning President Donald Trump from Twitter[6]

Kleiner Perkins

Pao rose to national prominence in 2012 after she sued her former employer Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers over allegations of gender discrimination. [7] Kleiner Perkins is one of Silicon Valley’s top venture capital firms, being an early investor in Amazon and Google. [8] Pao claimed that she was not promoted and eventually fired because she was a woman. She cited company conduct including a dinner with former Vice President Al Gore to which female employees were allegedly not invited because they “kill the buzz” and John Doerr, a partner at the firm, saying Pao had a “female chip on her shoulder.” [9] Kleiner Perkins insisted Pao was fired for consistently not meeting company standers as reflected in her employee evaluations. [10] The trial resulted in Pao losing all four claims against the company. [11]

Even though Pao lost her claims, left-of-center writers described her as an “international symbol for gender imbalance in Silicon Valley.” [12] Even before the end of Pao’s trial, other women brought forward suits against Facebook and Twitter over similar gender discrimination claims. [13] The term “Pao Effect” was coined for the increase in the number of women making gender discrimination allegations against technology industry employers. [14]

Project Include

Pao launched Project Include in 2016 to advocate for increased demographic diversity in the technology industry. [15] The organization has recommendations across fourteen areas that are aimed at changing employment practices in the industry. The project strongly relies on the idea that hiring practices and technology companies’ cultures favor white men; the group claims that hiring based on merit gives white men a leg up and prevents other groups from entering the industry. [16] When companies point out their applicant pools and experienced professionals in the technology field are more likely to be white and male, Project Include has written, “We find these behaviors racist and sexist.” [17]

Project Include’s recommendations touch on a wide range of topics. The group claims resume styles promote ageism and highlights achievements that are “accidents of birth and linked to privilege.” [18] The group considers personality-based considerations such as “culture fit” improper. [19] Expecting employees to work long hours and having benefits that fit that schedule is seen as disadvantage to candidates who are not single men. [20]

Political and Policy Advocacy

Pao has consistently opposed President Trump and his policies. She joined calls for impeachment with a retweet that called the president an “idiot racist” and demanded that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) move forward with impeachment proceedings. [21] During President Trump’s visit to El Paso after a mass shooting, he and First Lady Melania Trump took a picture with a two month old baby whose parents had been killed in the shooting. Pao tweeted a link to an article with the quote “To Donald Trump, this baby is little more than a hunting trophy in his own brutal race war (which explains his triumphant thumbs up).” [22]

Following shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, President Trump said that the internet can radicalize troubled people and that a light must be shown on how that occurs. In an interview with Bloomberg Technology, Pao responded to President Trump’s comments by calling him “a hypocritical white supremacist enabling and inciting terrorists.” [23]

Pao advocated for suspending President Trump’s Twitter account on the day of Trump’s inauguration. She claimed the president used the platform “to incite supporters to harass people.” [24] She identified Trump’s tweets criticizing Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), liberal actress Meryl Streep, and a United Steelworkers local union president were presented as evidence of Trump’s misuse of Twitter. [25]

Pao expressed support for the #GrabYourWallet campaign. #GrabYourWallet complies a list of companies that do business with the Trump family or had company leaders support President Trump’s election and suggests that people boycott those brands. [26]

On multiple occasions Pao has opposed the Trump Administration’s immigration policies. Pao supported a Change.org petition calling on AnitaB.org and organizers of the Grace Hopper Celebration to cut ties with Palantir, a major sponsor of the event. [27] Palantir provides Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with data analytics and case management software, which the petition claims contributes to “ICE’s countless human rights abuses.”

Pao has also criticized Amazon’s business relationship with ICE, which uses Amazon Web Services to host its data. [28] Pao shared an article that covered Mijente’s protests over the contracts with ICE during the company’s Prime Day and said to Amazon customers “I hope you enjoy your savings while your neighbors are being rounded up using Amazon’s technology. [29]

Pao celebrated the failure of expanding gun rights in Alabama. She said the legislator was right in not passing bills expanding the right to conceal carry and the state’s stand your ground law. [30] Pao also claimed the National Rifle Association (NRA) “sent a message targeting” Shannon Watts, the founder of the pro-gun control group Moms Demand Action, a claim the NRA denied. [31]

Pao has also shared content supporting expanded abortion; she retweeted a Planned Parenthood Federation of America video in which then-Planned Parenthood President Leana Wen discussed abortion access in Missouri. [32] Pao also retweeted the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) when it announced it would sue to overturn pro-life laws in Alabama. [33]

Personal Life

In 2007, Pao married investor Alphonse “Buddy” Fletcher, brother of screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher. Buddy’s investment firm, Fletcher Asset Management, later entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2012. [34] Fletcher had been a financial supporter of Harvard University, endowing a professorship for left-wing academic Henry Louis Gates, Jr. [35]

As of 2019, the couple were in divorce proceedings. [36]

References

  1. Huet, Ellen. “Ellen Pao Loses Bias Case Against Kleiner Perkins.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, March 28, 2015. https://www.forbes.com/sites/ellenhuet/2015/03/27/ellen-pao-verdict-jury-undecided-on-retaliation/#196e89b69d7f. ^
  2. Pengelly, Martin, and Kevin Rawlinson. “Reddit Chief Ellen Pao Resigns after Receiving ‘Sickening’ Abuse from Users.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, July 11, 2015. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jul/10/ellen-pao-reddit-interim-ceo-resigns. ^
  3. Riley, Naomi Schaefer. “The Self-Styled Martyr of Silicon Valley.” Commentary, October 2017. https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/self-styled-martyr-silicon-valley/. ^
  4. Berg, Emmett. “Buddy Fletcher and Ellen Pao’s Marriage Ending with Mudslinging and Acrimony.” New York Post. New York Post, August 17, 2019. https://nypost.com/2019/08/16/buddy-fletcher-and-ellen-paos-marriage-ending-with-mudslinging-and-acrimony/. ^
  5. Ellen K. Pao. Twitter Post. June 2, 2019. 8:34 P.M. Accessed September 10, 2019. https://twitter.com/ekp/status/1135343963294986240 ^
  6. Pao, Ellen K. “Dear @Jack: It’s Time To Suspend Donald Trump From Twitter.” Medium. Reset, January 20, 2017. https://medium.com/ekp/dear-jack-its-time-to-suspend-donald-trump-from-twitter-14ddbdd3250c. ^
  7. Streitfeld, David. “Ellen Pao Loses Silicon Valley Bias Case Against Kleiner Perkins.” The New York Times. The New York Times, March 27, 2015. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/28/technology/ellen-pao-kleiner-perkins-case-decision.html. ^
  8. Streitfeld, David. “Ellen Pao Suit Against Kleiner Perkins Heads to Trial, With Big Potential Implications.” The New York Times. The New York Times, February 22, 2015. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/23/technology/ellen-pao-suit-against-kleiner-perkins-heads-to-trial-with-big-potential-implications.html?module=inline. ^
  9. Sreitfeld, David. “Ellen Pao Loses Silicon Valley Bias Case Against Kleiner Perkins.” The New York Times. The New York Times, March 27, 2015. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/28/technology/ellen-pao-kleiner-perkins-case-decision.html. ^
  10. Sreitfeld, David. “Ellen Pao Loses Silicon Valley Bias Case Against Kleiner Perkins.” The New York Times. The New York Times, March 27, 2015. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/28/technology/ellen-pao-kleiner-perkins-case-decision.html. ^
  11. Huet, Ellen. “Ellen Pao Loses Bias Case Against Kleiner Perkins.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, March 28, 2015. https://www.forbes.com/sites/ellenhuet/2015/03/27/ellen-pao-verdict-jury-undecided-on-retaliation/#196e89b69d7f. ^
  12. Pengelly, Martin, and Kevin Rawlinson. “Reddit Chief Ellen Pao Resigns after Receiving ‘Sickening’ Abuse from Users.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, July 11, 2015. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jul/10/ellen-pao-reddit-interim-ceo-resigns. ^
  13. Sreitfeld, David. “Ellen Pao Loses Silicon Valley Bias Case Against Kleiner Perkins.” The New York Times. The New York Times, March 27, 2015. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/28/technology/ellen-pao-kleiner-perkins-case-decision.html. ^
  14. Giang, Vivian. “Silicon Valley Lawyers: We’re Already Seeing a ‘Pao Effect’.” Fortune. Fortune, April 8, 2015. https://fortune.com/2015/04/08/silicon-valley-pao-effect/. ^
  15. Statt, Nick. “Ellen Pao Launches Advocacy Group to Improve Diversity in the Tech Industry.” The Verge. The Verge, May 3, 2016. https://www.theverge.com/2016/5/3/11579798/ellen-pao-project-include-announced-tech-diversity-initiative. ^
  16. “Defining Culture.” Project Include. Accessed September 10, 2019. https://projectinclude.org/defining_culture. ^
  17. “Defining Culture.” Project Include. Accessed September 10, 2019. https://projectinclude.org/defining_culture. ^
  18. “Hiring.” Project Include. Accessed September 10, 2019. https://projectinclude.org/hiring#write-inclusive-job-descriptions. ^
  19. “Hiring.” Project Include. Accessed September 10, 2019. https://projectinclude.org/hiring#write-inclusive-job-descriptions. ^
  20. “Compensating Fairly.” Project Include. Accessed September 10, 2019. https://projectinclude.org/compensating_fairly#. ^
  21. Ellen K. Pao. Twitter Post. July 15, 2019. 7:16 A.M. Accessed September 10, 2019. https://twitter.com/ekp/status/1150725838666522624 ^
  22. Ellen K. Pao. Twitter Post. August 11, 2019. 1:09 P.M. Accessed September 10, 2019.  https://twitter.com/ekp/status/1160599214109282305 ^
  23. Ellen K. Pao. Twitter Post. August 6, 2019. 12:13 A.M. Accessed September 10, 2019.   https://twitter.com/ekp/status/1158591779123236866 ^
  24. Pao, Ellen K. “Dear @Jack: It’s Time To Suspend Donald Trump From Twitter.” Medium. Reset, January 20, 2017. https://medium.com/ekp/dear-jack-its-time-to-suspend-donald-trump-from-twitter-14ddbdd3250c. ^
  25. Pao, Ellen K. “Dear @Jack: It’s Time To Suspend Donald Trump From Twitter.” Medium. Reset, January 20, 2017. https://medium.com/ekp/dear-jack-its-time-to-suspend-donald-trump-from-twitter-14ddbdd3250c. ^
  26. Coulter, Shannon. “Here’s Why #GrabYourWallet Is Adding New Companies to the Boycott for the First Time in a Long Time.” Medium. Medium, August 17, 2019. https://medium.com/@shannoncoulter/why-grabyourwallet-is-adding-new-companies-to-the-boycott-list-for-the-first-time-in-a-long-time-78930225b282. ^
  27. Ellen K. Pao. Twitter Post. August 28, 2019. 11:53 A.M. Accessed September 10, 2019.  https://twitter.com/ekp/status/1166740655336345600 ^
  28. Piven, Ben. “What Is Amazon’s Role in the US Immigration Crackdown?” Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera, July 16, 2019. https://www.aljazeera.com/ajimpact/amazon-role-immigration-crackdown-190716194004183.html. ^
  29. Ellen K. Pao. Twitter Post. July 17, 2019. 8:50 P.M. Accessed September 10, 2019.  https://twitter.com/ekp/status/1151655390666317824 ^
  30. Ellen K. Pao. Twitter Post. June 2, 2019. 8:34 P.M. Accessed September 10, 2019. https://twitter.com/ekp/status/1135343963294986240 ^
  31. Ellen K. Pao. Twitter Post. June 2, 2019. 8:34 P.M. Accessed September 10, 2019. https://twitter.com/ekp/status/1135343963294986240 ^
  32. Planned Parenthood. Twitter Post. May 28, 2019. 2:04 P.M. Accessed September 10, 2019. https://twitter.com/PPFA/status/1133433969645629440 ^
  33. ACLU. Twitter Post. May 14, 2019. 9:49 P.M. Accessed September 10, 2019. https://twitter.com/ACLU/status/1128477391788093440 ^
  34. Celarier, Michelle. “Ellen Pao, Hedgie Husband Are Losing Power-Couple Status.” New York Post. New York Post, July 13, 2015. https://nypost.com/2015/07/12/ellen-pao-hedgie-husband-are-losing-their-power-couple-status/. ^
  35. Berg, Emmett. “Buddy Fletcher and Ellen Pao’s Marriage Ending with Mudslinging and Acrimony.” New York Post. New York Post, August 17, 2019. https://nypost.com/2019/08/16/buddy-fletcher-and-ellen-paos-marriage-ending-with-mudslinging-and-acrimony/. ^
  36. Berg, Emmett. “Buddy Fletcher and Ellen Pao’s Marriage Ending with Mudslinging and Acrimony.” New York Post. New York Post, August 17, 2019. https://nypost.com/2019/08/16/buddy-fletcher-and-ellen-paos-marriage-ending-with-mudslinging-and-acrimony/. ^

Connected Organizations

  1. Project Include (Non-profit)
    Founder
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