In a suit closely watched throughout the tech industry, Ellen Pao lost her gender bias case this afternoon (March 27) against the Silicon Valley venture capital firm of Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers. A jury of six men and six women announced the verdict shortly after 2 p.m.
In particular, females in the tech industry considered the suit a watershed because, they say, it drew attention to the discrimination and unconscious bias women face in the male-dominated tech industry.
According to Bloomberg News, Pao, a former junior partner of Kleiner, said she was unfairly denied promotions. Kleiner partners retaliated after she complained about alleged inappropriate behavior of a male colleague, Pao charged. Kleiner said she was fired because she argued with partners, lacked experience in entrepreneurship and deep expertise in technologies that Kleiner would tap for investment purposes.
Pao had asked for $16 million in compensatory damages plus punitive damages. According to Babson College research, the percentage of women in venture capital is only 6, down from 10 in 1999.
In the suit, many details emerged, such as Pao's boss saying she had "a female chip on her shoulder." Pao is married to a man whose hedge fund is bankrupt. Kleiner tried to enter that into the suit as a motivation for Pao, but was turned down by the judge, according to the New York Times.