Former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao has just secured a book deal with Random House that will allow her to expose firsthand experiences with gender and race discrimination in Silicon Valley, and the Tech world at large. Pao has been a prominent voice in the fight for equal representation amongst women and racial minorities in the tech industry since her infamous lawsuit against former employer, Kleiner Perkins. The book, a memoir, is entitled Reset.
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During her time at the company, Pao argued that she was cheated of a higher salary, denied promotions that she obviously deserved, and asked to perform tasks that were demeaning to a woman of such significance to the company. The case was highly publicized, and Pao is often credited with inspiring scores of other woman to come forward and tell their stories, which resulted in the genesis of a new term, “the Pao effect”.
In her own words:
“The trial was a moment of clarity for a lot of people—for women who were experiencing discrimination or harassment, or for men and women of color. Their experiences may have been unique, but they all shared common threads of bias, of unfair pay, of fewer opportunities. The trial didn’t raise brand-new issues, but it made it OK for people to talk about them in a way that had never happened before.”
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As CEO of Reddit, Pao made significant efforts to fight for workers’ abilities to negotiate salary. She also made the highly controversial executive decision to shut down five member boards with hundreds of thousands of subscribers each, because of the harassment they encouraged. This decision influenced exacerbated members to start a movement for her removal. A petition on Change.org received over 200,000 signatures. By July 2015, Pao decided to step down from her position as CEO, despite having helped the company grow significantly.
On the subject free expression for internet users, Pao has said:
“The Internet started as a bastion for free expression. It encouraged broad engagement and a diversity of ideas. Over time, however, that openness has enabled the harassment of people for their views, experiences, appearances or demographic backgrounds. Balancing free expression with privacy and the protection of participants has always been a challenge for open-content platforms on the Internet. But that balancing act is getting harder. The trolls are winning.”
Hopefully Pao’s new book encourages further discussion on the important issues she has worked so hard to raise, and takes power away from the trolls that have plagued her career.
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