Ellen Pao’s high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit has resonated with women across Silicon Valley and beyond -- including Sheryl Sandberg.
In a recent interview with Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and Bloomberg, the Facebook executive said she saw many of her own experiences reflected in Pao’s case against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
“We have systematic stereotypes of women, and systematic biases of women,” said Sandberg, adding that she wrote of similar experiences as a woman in a male-dominated industry in her book Lean In. “For men, likability and success is correlated. As they get more successful, more powerful, they’re better liked. For women, success and likability are negatively correlated. As a woman gets more successful, more powerful, she is less liked.”
Pao, a former partner at Kleiner Perkins, lost her suit on March 27 after a jury rejected her claims that she was denied promotions and then fired after she complained.
Women continue to be disproportionately absent from high-level positions in businesses. Though they represent around half of the country's workforce, women account for just 22 percent of senior managers. The higher they go, the bleaker the statistics: Only 24 of the S&P 500 companies have female CEOs.
“There is not an industry out there, no matter how many of its workers are women, that has enough women in leadership,” Sandberg told Bloomberg.
Pao's lawsuit drew significant attention to an industry long dogged by gender disparity and reports of sexual harassment. Facebook and Twitter, for example, are both currently facing gender discrimination lawsuits from former employees.
Check out the full interview with Sandberg and Branson at Bloomberg.com.
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