Reddit chief executive Ellen Pao may have lost her gender discrimination lawsuitagainst venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, but she is optimistic that the case will have played a part in encouraging women to speak out about unequal treatment at work.
In her first detailed interview since seeing a jury rule against all four of her claims against her former employer, Pao told the Wall Street Journal that she thinks more women feel confident enough to raise these issues, while warning that there is much more work to be done to solve them.
“I think it’s an issue of education and making people aware of it. Women who felt like they were uncomfortable before, that there was something that just wasn’t right, are hopefully now more comfortable pointing it out. They’re now able to point to discussions and research about it,” said Pao.
“I’m definitely seeing a lot of conversations on Twitter, in the press, in different areas. I think it’s something that men are starting to notice, too. A man reached out to me and said: ‘Thank you for highlighting this issue. I’m seeing it now, and I never saw it before’.”
Since the jury’s decision on 27 March, former employees at Twitter and Facebookhave filed their own gender discrimination lawsuits, while the debate sparked by Pao’s case about Silicon Valley’s approach – and that of the wider business world – to women has continued.
Reddit’s Alien logo and CEO Ellen Pao. Photograph: Robert Galbraith/Reuters
When Ellen Pao became chief executive of the social news site Reddit in November 2014, few thought her tenure would change the make-up of the site that bills itself the “front page of the internet”. Thrust into the limelight by the surprise resignation of the company’s previous CEO Yishan Wong, Pao had only joined Reddit the previous year, working on building “strategic partnerships that benefit the community”.
And yet just four months after starting, she has led the site through one of its biggest steps towards being the mainstream hub that that “front page” billing has always implied was its aim. In the wake of the vast cache of nude celebrity photos, leaked on 4chan but rapidly centered on “The Fappening”, a Reddit subforum (or “subreddit”) which swelled to millions of members before being shut down by the site’s administrators, Reddit has banned “involuntary pornography” entirely.
“Last year, we missed a chance to be a leader in social media when it comes to protecting your privacy – something we’ve cared deeply about since Reddit’s inception,” the site’s admins wrote in a message to users. “At our recent all hands company meeting, this was something that we all, as a company, decided we needed to address.”