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Ellen Pao to appeal against sexism trial defeat

By Zoe Kleinman
Technology reporter, BBC News

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionEllen Pao's case put sexism in Silicon Valley under the spotlight

A woman who lost a sexual discrimination case against her former employer in Silicon Valley is to appeal, despite facing legal costs.

Ellen Pao was asked to pay nearly $1m (£660,000) in legal fees after a jury found in favour of investor Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers.

The firm had said it would waive the costs if she did not appeal.

Ms Pao had claimed she missed out on promotions during her time as a junior partner because of her gender.

She also said she was dismissed in 2012, after she complained about her treatment.

The firm maintained its decisions were based on her performance and, following a high profile court case, a jury rejected her claims.

In addition to punitive damages, Ms Pao, now the interim chief executive of community website Reddit, had also asked for $16m (£10.7m) in compensation for lost wages.

She has filed a notice of appeal at the state court in San Francisco.

Neither Ms Pao nor her lawyer has made any comments.

"A 12-member jury found decisively in favour of KPCB [Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers] on all four claims," said Christina Lee, a spokesperson for the investor.

"We remain committed to gender diversity in the workplace and believe that women in technology would be best served by focusing on this issue outside of continued litigation."

At a conference in California last month, Ms Pao said she had no regrets about the case.

'Hard time'

"I didn't plan on becoming a symbol. It was more telling my story," she said, in a live blog by conference organiser Re/code.

Ms Pao added that the revelations made in court, where she was portrayed by the defence as a difficult employee with performance issues - had affected her both personally and professionally.

"I had a hard time getting a job. It's out there - I'm not that likeable and I'm a poor performer. There were people who wouldn't talk to me.

"There were people who were nervous to be seen with me. You have to have a lot of conviction you were right… and a lot of toughness to weather through the personal attacks."

The case put sexism in Silicon Valley under the spotlight.

The technology sector's struggle to attract women to the workforce is well documented.

Both Apple and its arch-rival Google revealed last year that 70% of their global workforces were male.

"Though we still have a long way to go, we're seeing some early progress," it said.

Related Topics

  • Sexism

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