5 questions about Silicon Valley gender bias case
By Sudhin Thanawala
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Ellen Pao has testified again in her lawsuit claiming gender bias kept her from advancing at a major Silicon Valley venture capital firm and that she was fired after she complained.
Pao's third day on the stand came Wednesday.The case against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has been characterized as a key indicator of gender imbalance at venture capital and technology companies that draw high-powered talent from some of the best universities in the nation.
Here's a recap of testimony and a look at how it fits into the allegations on both sides.
WHAT HAS PAO SAID ABOUT BIAS?
- Pao has testified that a male colleague with whom she had an affair retaliated when she broke it off by cutting her out of emails and meetings. She said the company showed its bias toward women by refusing to take any action when she complained about the retaliation. Pao also said she received erotic poetry from a senior partner and was denied a seat by Kleiner Perkins on the board of directors of another company in part because she was going on maternity leave.
WHAT IS KLEINER PERKINS' RESPONSE?
- Lynne Hermle, an attorney for Kleiner Perkins, has portrayed Pao as a chronic complainer who twisted facts and circumstances. The firm says Pao didn't get along with her colleagues and performed poorly as a junior partner.
HOW HAS PAO'S AFFAIR WITH THE MALE COLLEAGUE FIGURED IN THE CASE?
- Pao has testified that the colleague initially pursued her relentlessly and she began the affair after he said his wife had left him. She said she broke it off several months later when she learned that was a lie. After she reported the retaliation, a senior partner at the firm advised her to stop working with the colleague but she did not take the advice, thinking they could have a professional relationship.
WHAT ABOUT THE EROTIC POETRY?
- Pao testified that she did not reject the book of erotic poetry or tell the senior partner who gave it to her that she was offended. She told jurors the book contained erotic poems and nude sketches, and she thought it was "weird."
Pao said the same partner invited her to dinner at a time when his wife would be out of town, but he never said he had a romantic interest in her. Pao told another partner at the firm the invitation might have been innocent.
WHAT EVIDENCE HAS THE FIRM INTRODUCED ABOUT PAO?
The firm said it repeatedly noted in job evaluations that Pao didn't get along with people and that was a major issue after she became a junior partner around 2010. As examples, the firm's lawyer showed jurors an email Pao sent to a senior partner complaining that a colleague was competitive, defensive and undependable, and did not take feedback or listen well. Pao also testified that she had a conflict with her secretary for not coming to work on time.