If you’re a woman who works in tech, you’re likely already familiar with Ellen Pao. Perhaps, like me, you were glued to the unfolding of her landmark gender discrimination case against the legendary (and hugely powerful) Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins. If so, you were probably blown away by her bravery and fortitude, and kinda devastated when she didn’t win. She’ll tell you herself though, that it was worth it. Why? Well, it’s called The Pao Effect, and what it means is that many, many women—Susan Fowler, Niniane Wang, and others—inspired and emboldened by Ellen’s pioneering case, are speaking up themselves. And then there are the countless others who haven’t spoken up just yet, maybe because they’re rightfully afraid to do so or because they’re just not ready, who can take comfort in knowing that they’re not imagining things and they’re not alone.
Ellen’s got a new book—Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change—coming out in a few days that you should just go ahead and preorder right now. While you wait for it to hit your inbox or mailbox, we encourage you to catch Ellen’s thoughts on an entirely different topic: art! Since she’s somewhat of a wonder woman, it probably won’t surprise you that Ellen moonlights as an ardent art collector and aficionado. Get a load of her art literacy below... – Jen Bekman
5 Perfect Picks1) Resist. by Edel Rodriguez
The simplicity of the image and the strength of the message remind me of Keith Haring, my favorite artist. I also love the message that freedom and liberty will protect us from sexism, racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and more.
2) Manhattan Bridge, Manhattan by Berenice Abbott
I love the lines coming together towards the two figures in this image. The crisp triangles and angles are smoothed out by the round railings, many bolts, and soaring globes crowning the arch. Can you tell my favorite subject in high school was geometry?
3) ny.09#19 by Jennifer Sanchez
The colors are so cheerful and the patterns of designs combine into a really compelling composition. It reflects thoughtfulness but also a randomness and imperfection that are intentional and somehow relaxing.
4) Eighth Avenue by Joseph O. Holmes
I worked as a lawyer for a year at Worldwide Plaza, the building with the green pyramid roof. I used to be able to tell who was in the office by looking at the windows to see whose lights were on. We worked a lot of hours there--sometimes over 100 hours a week. I remember looking out the window late at night and seeing the taxis lined up outside Times Square theaters waiting for rides. Most of the buildings are new, but this photo really captures all the cabs in action with all their busy-ness.
5) The Fourth by Paul Octavious
It is a quintessential Fourth of July in the summer with people standing around watching the sky light up. I love how he captured the silhouettes of the spectators, the sparkles and streams of the fireworks, and the curve of the hill.
5 Q's + 5 A's
1) What's your favorite museum?
The Prado in Madrid. I've only been there once, but I saw Picasso's Guernica for the first time there, and it was just amazing. I had heard about it, but the power of the image was just overwhelming and stunning.
2) What's your most coveted coffee table book?
Either Peter Bunnell's Inside the Photograph—he was a college professor who really made art accessible to all his students, and I loved his class—or Banksy for the strong messages conveyed in simple images.
3) You've got $5m to spend on one piece of art. What would it be?
Keith Haring's Three Dancing Figures so I could put it back in SOMA where it belongs.
4) If you could be reincarnated as an artist, who would you want to be?
Alexander Calder. He seemed like such a happy man, he lived a long life, and he enjoyed it.
5) Diversity and inclusion are also a huge challenge in the arts. In what ways could you envision the art world adapting your work in the technology sector to employ in this very different discipline?
Be thoughtful about including all people from all different genders, races and ethnicities, ages, orientations, educational backgrounds, and more. Help them succeed across the entire chain of activities in education and training to galleries and museums. Track your diversity and inclusion using metrics around demographics and satisfaction. And continuously experiment with ways to improve.
Eager for more from Ellen Pao? Her book, Reset, comes out September 19th! You can pre-order it here.
The 411 on Ellen Pao
Ellen K. Pao is a diversity and inclusion activist at the Kapor Center, venture capitalist at Kapor Capital, former CEO of reddit, and co-founder and CEO of the award-winning diversity and inclusion nonprofit Project Include. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, Time, Lenny, and Recode. She has earned an electrical engineering degree from Princeton and law and business degrees from Harvard. Her efforts to call attention to workplace discrimination have led to the term “Pao effect.”