Ellen Pao Reset bookcover

Photo via Penguin Random House

Ellen Pao: ‘I believed I had an obligation to speak out’

The memoir about her experiences at Kleiner Perkins is coming soon.


Christina Bonnington


Posted on Aug 21, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 7:51 pm CDT

It’s been more than two years since the ill-fated conclusion of Ellen Pao‘s gender discrimination trial. The landmark case brought to light the issues of rampant sexism and gender bias in Silicon Valley, and the reverberations of her suit are being felt more strongly than ever. In Pao’s upcoming book, Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change, due out Sept. 19, we get an inside look into her side of the story. 

The Cut has an exclusive excerpt from Reset. The excerpt starts from the beginning, explaining how Pao ended up at Kleiner Perkins, one of the three largest venture capitalist firms in the world. It also details a number of situations she encountered on the job, from an uncomfortable plane flight talking about porn stars and sex workers, to the circumstances that led to a brief relationship with fellow partner Ajit Nazre.

In 2015, Pao, a former Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers junior partner and chief of staff, sued the VC firm for gender discrimination. Pao ended up losing on all four counts, but has inspired numerous other women in similar situations to step forward. Her case has also helped in the push for greater gender and cultural diversity among Silicon Valley companies. She likewise served as interim CEO of Reddit.

Pao talks about her experiences, and the aftermath of her lawsuit, with candor. A few choice quotes:

When I gave birth to my first child, some partners at work treated my taking maternity leave as the equivalent of abandoning a ship in the middle of a typhoon to get a manicure.

She ended up cutting her maternity leave short by one month. Then, on dealing with criticism following her suit:

In the wake of my suit, I often heard people say that my case was a matter of “right issues, wrong plaintiff,” or that the reason I lost was because I wasn’t a “perfect victim”… I was one of the only people who had the resources and the position to do so. I believed I had an obligation to speak out about what I’d seen.

For the full excerpt, head on over to the Cut. Pao’s memoir, Reset, will be available next month.

H/T the Cut

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*First Published: Aug 21, 2017, 4:34 pm CDT