Ellen Pao has broken her silence to issue a short statement regarding her position at Kleiner Perkins, the firm she is suing for gender discrimination–on Quora, of all places. (Quora: a publicist’s nightmare?)
On a question asking if she had left the firm following her lawsuit, Ms. Pao wrote the following simple yet powerful statement: “No, and I don’t plan to quit.” The answer received over 250 upvotes, primarily from bloggers and techies, as well as 13 comments. Of note is one comment from 500 Startups cofounder and prominent VC Dave McClure, who responded with a strong gesture of support. “Hang in there ellen,” he wrote, and 24 people upvoted it.
The vast majority of the comments were immensely supportive. “Fight the good fight,” wrote one user. Added another: “Hang tough, Ellen. Lots of people are rooting for you. (Many anonymously, unfortunately, given the circumstances).”
That last comment seems to encompass a lot of the reticence and anxiety embedded in a lawsuit of this magnitude. If she is telling the truth, Ms. Pao will hopefully shed light on what is demonstratively a male-dominated industry. But if she’s not, the consequences for women in VC will be dire.
It does seem that the notion of women in venture capital has been weighing on Ms. Pao for quite some time. In 2010, she responded to a Quora thread wondering about the gender breakdown of various venture capital firms: “Kleiner Perkins is at 23% with 8 female partners,” she wrote at the time. Since then, the firm has hired four more partners, bringing its ratio of female partners to 24 percent.