Ellen Pao’s tell-all book “Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change,” released on September 19, describes the discrimination she claims she endured while employed at Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
After seven years at the firm, where she was a junior partner and chief of staff for managing partner John Doerr, she filed a discrimination suit against her employers. She lost on all counts.
Pao, who has a degree in electrical engineering from Princeton and two Harvard degrees – one in law, the other an MBA – today is an investment partner at Kapor Capital, the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at the Kapor Center for Social Impact, and co-founder of the diversity consulting non-profit organization Project Include.
Her book seems to be striking a chord.
The seven reader reviews posted on Amazon so far give the book 5 stars out of 5 stars.
“Silicon Valley's story has long been an ode to white male privilege dressed up in the shiny veneer of "meritocracy,” writes one reader. “Ellen's court case against her then-employer Kleiner Perkins was when all of that pretense started to unravel, and I'm glad she's now written this book to tell her full story,” writes one reader.
Another reader, a software engineer, a startup founder, a woman and a person with disabilities, calls Pao’s writing “impeccable,” while another reader calls it “a lesson in culture.”
The professional reviewers are more circumspect.
“Men, including those at Kleiner, are permitted to be prickly and unlikable if they are perceived to deliver, whereas women are required to be likable. And as long as a trial (or an election, for that matter) turns into a referendum on likability, ambitious women are likely to lose,” comments Irin Carmon, in a review of Reset, in The Washington Post.
In a New York Times book review titled “The Education of Ellen Pao, Jennifer Szalai, writes: “… it was the genteel chauvinism of the enlightened elites at Kleiner Perkins that carried with it the sting of betrayal. They promised her a meritocracy and gave her a glass ceiling instead.”