Chris Hua

“Data” “Scientist”

The Ice Cream Man


The first story Ellen Pao told was about a law firm partner who stood outside a female lawyer’s office everyday after lunch, licking an ice cream cone while staring at her. Management’s response to these instances of sexism were invariably dismissive, e.g. “you should be flattered he’s interested in you,” or “it’s just one weird guy, but overall it’s not that bad, right?” The result is an environment that views sexism as the product of just one bad apple, but it’s instead the product of a bad system: one which condones and encourages “boys club” behavior. Staffing decisions were made at all-male steak dinners and strip club visits, which reifies the structural exclusion present within VC and tech.

It’s now clear that tech has a diversity problem, given the wide range of stories over the last few years: Amazon, Susan Fowler at Uber, Leslie Miley at Twitter, SoFi recently, and almost certainly more we haven’t heard. Having these voices speak out make the structural problems impossible to ignore. Recognizing that tech companies exist in (and perpetuate) an ecosystem of exclusion is an important step to take in ensuring that workplaces are safe places for all employees.

The latter half of the talk covered strategies of inclusion. In business school we learned the Kotter Model for organizational change, which I think is compatible with most of what Pao talked about. A few highlights:

Notes from Ellen Pao, 27 September 2017.