Ellen Pao On Entrenched Sexism

The Cut: This Is How Sexism Works in Silicon Valley

In my own interview, when I mentioned that my colleagues had talked about a porn star when we were on a plane together, the investigator asked if it was Sasha Grey. I said no. He pressed the point, saying that Sasha Grey was crossing over into legitimate acting. At another point, the investigator asked, in a ­“gotcha” tone, “Well, if they look down on women so much, if they block you from opportunities, they don’t include you at their events, why do they even keep you around in the first place?”

I hadn’t thought about it before. I replied slowly as the answer crystallized in my mind: If you had the opportunity to have workers who were overeducated, underpaid, and highly experienced, whom you could dump all the menial tasks you didn’t want to do on, whom you could get to clean up all the problems, and whom you could create a second class out of, wouldn’t you want them to stay?

I noticed he didn’t write that down in his notebook. Among the other things the investigator did not write down: that there was no sexual-harassment training, not even a line in the hiring paperwork saying: Hey, be appropriate. Don’t do things that make people feel uncomfortable. Don’t touch people. Kleiner’s managing partners flouted hiring rules, too, asking inappropriate questions in interviews like: Are you married? Do you have kids? How old are you? Are you thinking about having kids? What does your husband do? What did your ex-husband do? It was noted at some point that such questions created a giant legal risk, and the response was, effectively, Well, who’s going to sue us?

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