Pao Loses Sexual Discrimination Case – Was She Just a Bad Employee?

The Pao vs. Kleiner gender discrimination case may have been won by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers clearing Kleiner of charges of sexual discrimination against female employee, Ellen Pao, but this does not mean that inequalities were not present.

Erin Malone, CEO of her own digital firm Tangible UX, a non-deciding juror of the Pao vs. Klein case, played a part in witnessing the testimonies provided amongst accusations of gender bias within Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. She says that, “The environment definitely is biased against women in technology, and venture capital is even worse.”

She felt that Doerr, a 63-year-old male leader of the firm, had handwritten notes querying if female employees were married and with children, not asking the same questions about men. This does not mean however, that Pao provided a credible case against her alleged victimisation which resulted in her firing, according to Malone.

Malone found that the performance reviews given to Pao did make balanced recommendations to the then-employee, asking her to soften her style, “to be more collaborative, supportive, particularly of those whom” she didn’t easily work with. Malone said to Reuters that Pao seemed to place less effort to align to these performance requests, year after year.

There seems to be no question of whether gender bias was present within the firm, however, one cannot rule out the possibility of this law suit being influenced by an emotional reaction to a firing and some sort of justice being sought for this.


One thing’s for certain, firms within Silicone Valley have to immediately address issues of gender bias. If this is not to ensure an equal, non-discriminatory environment between men a women (the ideal impetus), it would definitely be to cover their behinds from litigation that can have a severe impact on their corporate identities given recent occurrences.