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Women and VC: The aftermath of Ellen Pao vs KPCB
Venture Capital, Lifestyle
Last week we saw Ellen Pao finally throw in the towel and drop her appeal after losing her sexism case against former employers Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers, a Silicon Valley-based venture capital.
In article published in Re/code, the former Reddit CEO draws a line under her three-year-long battle, detailing exactly what she was up against, and why she has decided to move on.
So it’s over. Well, kinda sorta, as Fortune’s Dan Primack puts it. First there is still the issue over costs, and whether Pao will pay the $270,000 in Kleiner Perkins legal costs she was required to repay. She says she is, but the VC firm also said it would drop its requests for funds if she dropped her appeal.
But there is an even bigger lingering issue that is likely to rumble on for some time.While Pao did not win her case, the whole episode did highlight an inescapable glaring fact: Venture capital is predominantly a man’s world.
In a Techcrunch article published in August, Kristi Zuhlke — co-founder and CEO of market research engine KnowledgeHound — explained that just 4% of venture capital partners are women. Female angel investors meanwhile are nearly rare to point of being nonexistent.
It doesn’t change much when it comes to the companies that VCs back either: Only 3% of tech CEOs are women, while just 15% of start-ups have a female founder.
There are still those who contest whether Pao herself was the victim of discrimination. But looking at the broader issue of women in venture capital, Pao is most certainly right about one thing: They are not getting a fair crack of the whip.
Photo: Michael Coghlan