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Ellen Pao Loses Silicon Valley Bias Case Against Kleiner Perkins (nytimes.com)
332 points by conover on Mar 27, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 338 comments



Let's not let the outcome of this specific case affect the idea that there is an institutional bias - conscious or unconscious - against women entering and thriving in male-dominated fields like this one.

Just as one flurry in April doesn't disprove global warming, one dismissed lawsuit doesn't disprove a deep but sometimes subtle sexism. It's the same with other powerful prejudices that have endured for centuries or millennia.

There are many factors acting against women, just as there are many working against people of color, the poor, and those who do not cleave to traditional sexual or gender norms. Please do what you can to support these people in your life, in all their endeavors.


At the same time, we should avoid using specific cases as proof that there is institutional bias, just as we should avoid using specific storms as proof of climate change.

Of course, then all we have to work with is overwhelming statistical evidence for both issues, and that never convinces anyone.


Do we have statistical evidence of this bias? I'm not doubting we do, I would just like to explore it.

There are many professions that are dominated by a single gender or a single ethnicity. That's not necessarily evidence of bias.

There are lots of ways to explore this. For example, sending identical resumes with female and male names for engineering jobs and measuring requests for interviews.


In general it's very hard to control for all factors. The most compelling analysis with robust controls that I have seen is: http://www.nber.org/papers/w5903

The paper shows that adding a screen to orchestra auditions significantly increased the number of women who were chosen for symphony positions. The study is very compelling because the cause/effect relationship of gender-blinding the auditions can be observed very directly.

A musical audition is somewhat unique in that you can conduct the "interview" in a way that the "interviewer" remains blind to gender/race/etc.


One problem with this is that orchestral music is a very traditional, opinionated industry. There could be biases specific to that setting that don't show up in others.


Are you suggesting that the software tech industry isn't in its own way at least as traditional and opinionated?


The software industry is at most, what? 100 years old? 55 years old if you want to start from the beginning of the rise of business computing? It's an industry created in the midst of massive social changes that has been chasing moving targets from the beginning.

Orchestral music (as we know it, an argument could be made for orchestra-like organizations going back another few millennia) has been around since the 16th century or so. That is a much longer time for exclusive traditions to develop.

I'm sure they're both traditional and opinionated, but I would expect that the scale at which they manifest them will be very different.


Well it wouldn't be that outlandish to do truly blind programming interviews.

Just use a collaborative editor and possibly wacom stylus (can't be any more cumbersome than the traditional whiteboard), plus a text chat interface to conduct the interview. The interviewer interacts with the candidate in real time but doesn't see him or her.

Where cheating is a concern you can have a different employee (who does not provide interview feedback) monitoring the candidate over a camera to ensure they're only using the approved terminal, not phoning a friend.

Any medium to large-sized software company should be able to pull this off, and it would eliminate the possibility of gender bias in the interview results.


>wacom stylus

That might not work as intended. According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphology),

>Uniformly the research indicates that gender can be determined [from handwriting] at a significant level.

Considering the subject is graphology, of course, one may question the quality of the studies cited but at least the journals like Journal of Applied Psychology appear legitimate.


In my experience, at the hiring level gender bias works towards normalizing the current skew of modalities. It is after hiring, when growing leaders and assigning responsibilities that bias is more often clear.


I agree with you that this would be a great experiment. However, that won't stop any potential bias once they get the job.


simple. require everyone to work in cubicles that are closed off where your coworkers cant see you. all voice chats must be done without video and with voice modulation technology so that gender can not play a role. Also, the persons name must always be changed to J Smith to not hint at gender or race.


Or change the name 'J. Doe' so you can't even tell if they are alive or not.


Agreed, of course. But I still think it's a good idea to eliminate one opportunity for bias if we can.


More data would be nice to have. In lieu of that, I enjoyed Scott Adams' verdict on gender bias: http://blog.dilbert.com/post/114055529676/my-verdict-on-gend...


I'm not sure I'd trust the guy who wrote "The reality is that women are treated differently by society for exactly the same reason that children and the mentally handicapped are treated differently" on gender issues.


I read a bit of his stuff and he seems reasonably cogent (with perhaps a bias towards ignoring the cultural basis of gender roles), but with a tendency for poorly considered word choices that get him into trouble. The full context for your quote is here:

http://blog.dilbert.com/post/102881506316/im-a-what

He addresses your direct quote explicitly lower down the page:

"I realize I might take some heat for lumping women, children and the mentally handicapped in the same group. So I want to be perfectly clear. I’m not saying women are similar to either group. I’m saying that a man’s best strategy for dealing with each group is disturbingly similar."


Is there not still something condescending in proclaiming that a man's best strategy for dealing with women is to deal with them in the same way one would deal with children or the mentally handicapped? It sure seems condescending to me...


Sadly, assholes can be right, too. Having a good asshole filter doesn't mean you have a good 'this person is right' filter, or vice-versa.


"I’m not saying women are similar to either group"

I'm just lumping them together in the same group. Uh huh.


And he continues:

> You don’t punch a mentally handicapped guy even if he punches you first. And you don’t argue when a women tells you she’s only making 80 cents to your dollar. It’s the path of least resistance. You save your energy for more important battles.

Which is kind of a good point. I definitely don't argue with Christians about evolution because it's clearly a waste of time and I have more important things to do.


Just...most Christians believe in evolution just fine. Its a few fundamentalists that don't, and ya, I don't want to argue with them either, not worth the energy.


> most Christians

[citation needed]

Given that the most mainstream support for evolution in Christianity involves the magical hand of the Lord pushing every last selection, I don't know that I'd say they believe in it "just fine," more that they believe in a really bastardized version of it so they stop looking silly.


I can't believe I have to argue about this. Ok, citations...

The pope believes in evolution:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/10/28...

A lot of the Christians in the world are catholic, you know. I guess if you want to be American-centric though, so lets go to Wiki:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Level_of_support_for_evolution

There is a nice chart there, but...

> Molleen Matsumura of the National Center for Science Education found, of Americans in the twelve largest Christian denominations, at least 77% belong to churches that support evolution education (and that at one point, this figure was as high as 89.6%).

Really, I'm probably an Atheist also (though I don't identify as one, I just don't believe in God), and the only time I have to deal with creationists is in small town America (evangelicals), but they are not the overwhelming majority of Christians (I guess...I don't really ask).

And if they say they believe in evolution, why doubt them? Why accuse them of making twisted rationalizations? It just doesn't make for intelligent debate on either side.


Thank you for reading my comment. The pope believes in theistic evolution which is essentially incompatible with actual evolution. It's like saying Deepak Chopra is an expert in quantum science. Even better, not all Catholics believe in lock-step with what the pope does (see: Catholics who have gotten abortions, Catholics who are rich, Catholics in favor of the death penalty, etc.).

I don't know why you would think I'm being American-centric, my comment was regarding Christians around the globe, not just the ones you've met. There are an awful lot of Christians in non-industrialized countries who don't behave like the ones you've met.

> I'm probably an Atheist also

Don't try to include me in your fedora-support-group, I'm Jewish.

> And if they say they believe in evolution, why doubt them? Why accuse them of making twisted rationalizations? It just doesn't make for intelligent debate on either side.

If the Russian government says it has fair elections, why doubt them?


Please don't conduct religious flamewars on Hacker News.


...a good point, horribly argued. You don't punch a mentally handicapped guy because he is mentally handicapped and is not responsible for what he is doing. How does that relate to a woman only making 80 cents on the dollar? It's an awful, awful analogy.

The implication is that a mentally handicapped man shouldn't do what he does but can't be blamed because he isn't responsible. But women should complain about earning 80c on the dollar.


>How does that relate to a woman only making 80 cents on the dollar?

Because women don't make 80 cents on the dollar, unless you think brain surgeons and hairdressers ought to make the same amount of money.


Amazing people still believe that, despite the evidence staring them in the face.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/24/upshot/the-pay-gap-is-beca...

"Are women paid less than men because they choose to be, by gravitating to lower-paying jobs like teaching and social work? [...] But a majority of the pay gap between men and women actually comes from differences within occupations, not between them — and widens in the highest-paying ones like business, law and medicine according to data from Claudia Goldin, a Harvard University labor economist and a leading scholar on women and the economy."


This is a pretty shitty article.

> Take doctors and surgeons. Women earn 71 percent of men’s wages — after controlling for age, race, hours and education.

> A pharmacist who works 40 hours a week generally earns double the salary of a pharmacist who works 20 hours a week, and as a result, the pay gap for pharmacists is one of the smallest.

These two quotes reveal that "controlling for hours" means "calculating per-hour wage", i.e. the underlying assumption is that the wage should depend linearly on the number of hours worked.

Which is obviously not true. Take finance, for example. If you're not willing to work 50, 60 hour weeks, you won't just get paid proportionally less; what will happen is that your career will stagnate, you won't get promoted, or might even get fired!

Also, personally I definitely want to be paid "disproportionately" for all the hours I do outside my "normal" working hours - after all, I want some time to enjoy life as well!

The final suggestion in this article is that workers should strive to make themselves as replaceable as possible. But this is, IMO, the worst advice possible; it won't have the effect of "averaging" the wages to make them more equal; instead, the best performer's wages will be pushed down to match the worst performer's wages, as it will no longer be possible to differentiate workers by performance. Brave New World!


Amazing people put forth that bogus 81 cents number and then start talking about data as if it supported their position. I was just pointing out that number was obviously fraudulent as it doesn't take occupation into account. But what happens when we look at education, occupation, hours worked, willingness to travel, etc?

"This study leads to the unambiguous conclusion that the differences in the compensation of men and women are the result of a multitude of factors and that the raw wage gap should not be used as the basis to justify corrective action. Indeed, there may be nothing to correct. The differences in raw wages may be almost entirely the result of the individual choices being made by both male and female workers."

http://www.consad.com/content/reports/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20...


Amazing that the other reply to my post told me to not have such a "nitpicky attitude" [1] when another tells me that such nitpicking is crucial. It's almost as if people are doing any mental gymnastics they can to derail conversation into insignificant side roads rather than the actual issue at hand.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9279813


I can't reply to your comment below:

> You clearly didn't get my point. For one, I'm not the one that brought up the 80 cents figure. But is it 80 cents? 70? 90? That's not the actual issue. Does sexism exist in tech? If yes, how about talking about that?

> It's like entering into a conversation about how to fix the problem of racism within the police by asking "ah yes, but how racist are they?".

I don't understand how you can speak critically of people asking the most mature, rational and productive question in the situation. You can't make a plan to deal with a problem if you don't have at least some idea of how big it is.

  Person A: "The dam is overfilled, we need to drain some of the water." 
  Person B: "Oh, really?  How do you know it's overfilled and how much water do you think we should drain?"
  Person A: "OH MY GOD I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU HAVE THE NERVE TO ASK ME THAT!  CLEARLY YOU *WANT* THE DAM TO BE OVERFILLED, DON'T YOU?!?"
  Person B: "..."


Amazing that after I present actual data you try to deflect by replying to my post with a criticism of something someone else wrote, completely ignoring the subject.


You clearly didn't get my point. For one, I'm not the one that brought up the 80 cents figure. But is it 80 cents? 70? 90? That's not the actual issue. Does sexism exist in tech? If yes, how about talking about that?

It's like entering into a conversation about how to fix the problem of racism within the police by asking "ah yes, but how racist are they?".


Sure, let's talk about sexism. My company has a program by which women are promoted even though a man with the same skills and experience would not be promoted. Does this seem fair to you?

Somehow I doubt I'll be able to find a lawyer to take the case if I sue.


You probably think you're doing women a favour with this nitpicky attitude, but it only trivializes the focus of the issues to the wording choice of a single fucking person. Let the little things slide.


I'm not arrogant enough to think that "women" care one bit about what I'm doing.

it only trivializes the focus of the issues to the wording choice of a single fucking person

Have you been on Hacker News before?


I'm not sure why anyone gives Scott Adams credence as an expert on anything other than creating a fairly successful comic strip.


He seems to think things through and come to a lot of his conclusions logically. The parent comment illustrates this well. Just as PG is respected for opinions that aren't directly related to VC, people can be knowledgeable about things outside their main field of work.

Also, nobody said Adams was an expert about feminism and the wage gap.


My experience working for good technology companies is that most engineers truly want to hire good engineers. I was lucky to work in groups where there was no gender bias. Female colleagues or bosses where recognized and respected based on merit. Obviously this is just my experience. On the other hand bias based on age seems to be much more common. Perhaps this is part of people wanting to hire people with similar cultural background.

What happens in the world of VCs and top executives has no relation to what happens in the real world. I suspect that the top 1% is dominated by jerks and males. We shouldn't extrapolate what happens there to the rest of us. Let them sue each other.


There is enough evidence to be suggestive. Much of it comes not directly from tech - for example, there were studies done with identical resumes, as you suggest, which showed bias, but not in tech. Still, there is enough of that, as well as enough anecdotal data, to debate about. However, there is nowhere enough data to arrive at a solid conclusion either way.

Regardless, all this is offtopic for this article. This was a lawsuit between two parties, not an attempt to prove sexism exists or does not exist among VC firms (much less tech in general).


I haven't been able to find an academic study specifically looking at software engineering or tech jobs, but there are other studies I've seen that send out identical resumes (with just the name changed) suggesting that men are generally perceived to be more competent.

Science faculty reading resumes for a "laboratory manager" position prefer the male candidate http://www.pnas.org/content/109/41/16474.abstract

Academic psychologists are more likely to suggest hiring the male candidate http://advance.cornell.edu/documents/ImpactofGender.pdf


It's not necessarily evidence, but I imagine the correlation is quite strong. I can't think of a single counter example, where a profession is dominated not as the result of bias.


I don't think clinical psychology is dominated by women due to bias.


Women are historically associated with being more "nurturing".

Don't you think people would prefer to see a nurturing therapist over a non-nurturing one?


Why not? Or rather, why do you think technology is but clinical psychology is not?


That's a pretty good example, but I wouldn't completely discount the role of cultural bias in amplifying the gender imbalance in that field.


I can think of two off the top of my head:

1. Professional sports

2. Trading


Really? I feel like those are horrible examples.

Professional Sports is one where we have gender segregation that directly leads to very different cultural and monetary values for careers in that field.

Trading is a field where I would expect to find a large amount of bias and outright gender discrimination, but the evidence I have for that is anecdotal.


We have gender segregation in sports because men are stronger than women, hence better in most sports (at least the most viewed ones - football, rugby, american football, basketball (height matters here as well), hockey, ...). If there was no gender segregation, all the teams would still be all-male, and there would be no women's only teams.


>> If there was no gender segregation, all the teams would still be all-male

Possibly, but I doubt it. I do think there would still be a gender imbalance, but I don't think that we would see 0 women capable of performing at that level.

>> and there would be no women's only teams.

Why would allowing women into the top leagues of sports mean we couldn't still have all-women leagues?

I think sports segregation is BS and have yet to hear an argument that actually justifies it.


I understand the natural segregation in sports, as men are more physically fit in general, but could you explain the trading bias? I'm not saying you're wrong about it, I just want to understand your PoV more. Thanks


Trading involves a lot of risk, and people more prone to taking risks gravitate towards it. And it's been shown that overall men are more likely to take risks then women. Just a possible reason why there are more men.


Yeah, that makes sense. Thanks


Finance is the best poster child for "Good ole boys club" outside of politics.


At the same time, we should avoid using specific cases as proof that there is institutional bias

Which isn't what the OP did. I don't know that statistical evidence is all we have - we (hopefully) have the experiences and opinions of the women we work with, know or are related to. Listening to them would be a positive thing to do.


I think the most important thing to realize -- before we look at statistics, which we definitely should -- is that if a number of people, our coworkers, feel uncomfortable at our workplaces -- and it doesn't matter whether that number is large or small -- then we should feel terrible and do something about it. Those experiences can be so horrible, that even if the number of cases is small, our sin is bad enough.

Having said that, I don't believe that number is small at all. Women have been fleeing the software industry for the past few decades, showing decreasing participation and an opposite trend to that in most other industries[1], and I don't think that software is so inherently different from other technical professions. And, as an outsider who visits Silicon Valley a few times a year, I can report that my own personal, probably biased feeling, is one of being overwhelmed by a thick, palpable atmosphere of sexism that I have seen in few if any other places. I should add that I have learned to see sexism only over the past few years; before, I was completely blind to it.

[1]: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2014/10/21/357629765/when-wom...


>I think the most important thing to realize -- before we look at statistics, which we definitely should -- is that if a number of people, our coworkers, feel uncomfortable at our workplaces -- and it doesn't matter whether that number is large or small -- then we should feel terrible and do something about it.

Or maybe they should. The legitimacy of their reasoning matters. I don't mind making changes for people who have a legitimate issue, but work is for adults.


So what you're saying is, you don't mind causing other people -- your coworkers -- severe distress if their "reasoning" is faulty according to you?

But, of course, that's not really what's happening. As you can see in the data, "adults" is actually "men" only when "work" is "software". I can assure you that medicine and law are no less stressful work environments than software, yet for some reason women seem to want to work in those professions more and more (as well as in science in academia and other fields of engineering) while they're fleeing software in droves.

I think you should consider the possibility that you're contributing to a hostile environment that you simply can't feel because you haven't tried really putting yourself in other people's shoes. Because if that's what's happening and you're wrong, then you've just been part of something really terrible. If, on the other hand, you're right, then all you did was to "unjustifiably" adjust your behavior to relieve the suffering of some of your fellow humans.

Even if you're not convinced that this big difference in ethical outcome merits changing your behavior right away, I think it at least justifies truly listening to what women are saying, and trying really, really, really hard to examine whether you just might be doing something wrong.


>So what you're saying is, you don't mind causing other people -- your coworkers -- severe distress if their "reasoning" is faulty according to you?

Yes. That's exactly what I'm saying. Because I'm not causing them stress. They're causing stress to themselves.

>As you can see in the data, "adults" is actually "men" only when "work" is "software".

What data? What are you talking about?

>I think you should consider the possibility that you're contributing to a hostile environment that you simply can't feel because you haven't tried really putting yourself in other people's shoes.

It's not reasonable to expect men to tiptoe around special snowflakes primed by coddled upbringings to take umbrage at every perceived slight.


[flagged]


>Only in software?

You're a long way from showing women are leaving/not entering software because of sexism.

>The data I linked to above that shows that women participation in technical fields (science, medicine and law) is increasing for the past decades while only in software it's decreasing.

So what?

>Well, you don't quite qualify as a man just yet.

I stopped reading there. You're an idiot and I'm not going to wasted any more time on you.


> I stopped reading there.

I am sorry you feel offended, but I am not going to sugarcoat the truth for you just because you're sensitive or hysterical. You must understand that HN is for adults, we have a certain direct, business-like, often rough and sometimes whimsical -- but never intentionally mean -- way of speaking, and you're just going to have to accept that; it's just part of our hacker culture. I think you'd agree that it's not reasonable of you to expect us to tiptoe around special snowflakes primed by coddled upbringings that take umbrage at every perceived slight.


There is also a difference in what is legal and what is acceptable. A good example from this case is not inviting her to an even with Al Gore because women "would kill the buzz". It's probably legal as long as it isn't part of a very explicit larger scheme to discriminate women, but it's plainly wrong.

I also don't get how, exactly, women are buzzkillers. But maybe I just don't speak bro.


So there is not a single situation in which any group is allowed to be excluded based on anything that in't symptomatic of some larger conspiracy?

"I don't want Danny to come and see Jim Jeffries comedy because Jim says a lot of negative things about religion, and Danny as a Christian would be a buzzkill".

"I don't want Danny to come and see Anita Sarkesian talk because he is a man and his being there will be a buzzkill".

"I don't want Danny to come and see Barcelona Play Real Madrid because he is a buzzkill whenever sport comes up".

Seems to me that there are lots of valid reasons why people wouldn't want certain people around - people exclude me from all manner of things, and I don't think that is evidence of systematic bias against me. In fact, in many situations I'd say it is reasonable to exclude me, because I would very much be a buzzkill. As one such example:

"I don't want webehere to come and see the psychic, because he will spend his whole time trying to prove they are full of shit, and that will be a buzzkill".


I can't help noticing that all your examples involve an individual, even though you advance them in the context of group discrimination.

What about 'I don't want any men coming to our next brainstorming session because they're always going on about margins and analytics and it's such a buzzkill?'


"I do not want your husbands on this shopping trip as they'll be such a buzkill". "Let's not invite our girlfriends to this snowboarding drunk fest as they'll be such a buzkill".

These phrases could be social cliches, but neither is immoral in principle. It's ok to be in the company of people who are definitely and exactly into your fetish.

Of course if it's a company sponsored snow trip then it's different matter altogether.


Like code camps exclusively for gender/race/socioeconomic/etc groups? I thought exclusionary practices were the pinnacle of progressive reasoning.


You really don't see the difference between "Let's not invite any women to this event, they're all bitches" and "Let's make a women only event because they are a minority and their voices tend to not be heard in the masses"?


Oh sure, there's infinite differences. It just sounded as if anigbrowl was taking a principled position on exclusionary practices. Almost like we should tolerate people who look and act differently than ourselves instead of secluding ourselves into groups that mirror our values.


Actually I was just pointing out the self-contradictory nature of the comment I was replying to, rather than making a sweeping statement about exclusionary practices, which you and some other people have projected onto it. I do not, for example, consider myself a 'progressive.'

You could, of course, have just asked me to clarify my views on the subject before taking pot-shots at it.


one is a doomed attempt to fix sexism with sexism and the other is a strawman. they seem to have very little relation to each other.


If you want to pick a fight, try someone else. I'm not in the mood for sarcasm on this pleasant afternoon.


If you want a conceptual framework to understand political correctness you need to understand Gramsci who wrote the rulebook for culture war back in the early 20th century. John Fonte explains the whole thing pretty well in this classic essay: http://www.hoover.org/research/why-there-culture-war


Wow, fascinating and yet deeply depressing read. I realized that I fundamentally disagree with both major sides in this cultural debate—the only ones that have any real chance of maintaining broad social control. Which would be fine, except both sides view any disagreement as inherently immoral. They cannot countenance any disagreement and actively try to suppress it and reeducate the populace.

I've been realizing that the world is a lot more moralistic and populist than I thought, and this just reinforces that. Distressing.

I'm content having my own preferences on how things should be run, even if they're different from most people's. And I certainly don't want to push them onto others! I would like a world where people can do their own thing with no problems as long as they're not trying to force their views on others. But that's not enough for either side; both insist that any person or organization has to follow their principles even if they're content to be self-contained.


It's possible that some men, especially the very successful/powerful, are afraid that a woman will file suit over something which, despite being said without malice, was offensive to the listener.

Edit: I'm not necessarily defending their decision to discriminate based on gender. I'm only trying to suggest a motive for their bad behavior.


As a man, I've known groups of men to occasionally make crude yet seemingly hilarious remarks that they would not make in the presence of women. If your line of thinking on the subject is correct, I wouldn't be surprised if that was the answer. In the presence of men, other men make men-style remarks. In the presence of women, other women make women-style remarks. I'm not invited to my wife's girls nights with her friends, and she doesn't seem too torn up when she's not on the porch smoking cigars with me and the guys. The reason for that is we want to be able to have gender-specific conversations.

But like you mentioned, if this is happening in the workplace, that's completely wrong for anyone to do. Especially when it's preventing a woman from meeting the former vice president just because she's a woman. Is one woman at a men's only social party a buzz kill? Perhaps. Is one woman at a business meeting a buzz kill? Certainly yes, because there really should be more.


>> if this is happening in the workplace, that's completely wrong for anyone to do

This is the most important part. The comments and examples of gender specific comments/comments males may not make in front of females or vice versa are accurate, anyone denying that there isn't some truth to this is simply wrong (right or wrong, humans have some natural tribal tendencies that lead to this). However, there's a huge difference between comments made on a "guys night" playing poker or a trip to Vegas (or a girls night out, playing poker, going to Vegas), etc. and it happening in the workplace. While the underlying motive of a comment like "we can't invite women to this meeting because it will kill the buzz of a bunch of guys shooting the shit" impacts a career, the career of someone who is clearly highly capable.


It goes further than that. The KP partner that was accused of letting Pao out of company events was described by co-workers as having similar personality traits with her (being pushy and territorial, elbowing others out). He was promoted, she was fired. Sounds like the common pattern that the same sort of behavior will lead a man to be called an "alpha" or somesuch, and a woman, well, a bitch.


I find myself embarrassed for the sexism expressed in each of those situations -- for the stereotypes the men endorse when no women are around, and vice versa.

I'm also single and depressed so take with grain of salt eh.


No, you're right. There's a difference between making a joke about the similarities between your wife and your friend's wife versus making sexist remarks that some groups of men tend to do. And some women do too, to be fair. Humans all have flaws, and some of us try to put those flaws aside. Others like to put their flaws on display like they are proud of them. There's no excuse for it.


Sure, like there's overwhelming institutional bias against women in medicine... oh, wait. Err... Like there's overwhelming institutional bias against women in law... Um... Well, like there's overwhelming institutional bias against women in polit... Hmm...

The credibility of the claim that there's overwhelming institutional bias against women is dependent on understanding why in cases where there unquestionably was considerable bias--like medicine, law and politics--the bias has either dropped dramatically or been reversed in the past half-century to the point where no one anywhere is the least bit surprised to see a female doctor, lawyer, or politician.

The absence of women in tech may be due to many factors. Given we have seen how easily bias has been overcome in other areas, we should at least keep our minds open to alternative models. One such model is the observation that women remain under-represented in areas where the working conditions are terrible, the career prospects are nil, and the tangible effect of their efforts on others are zero, all of which conditions pertain to tech, but not to medicine, law or politics.

This suggests that maybe we ought to be paying attention to the conditions men work under in tech, rather than making this out to be a man-woman thing.

I'm not claiming this is necessarily true, but nor do I think it is entirely implausible, and hope people concerned with these things will at least be open to alternative explanations.


> One such model is the observation that women remain under-represented in areas where the working conditions are terrible, the career prospects are nil, and the tangible effect of their efforts on others are zero, all of which conditions pertain to tech, but not to medicine, law or politics.

I think you have an over romanticized view of the vast majority of careers in medicine, law, and politics.


That may be true, but all it would take for OP's argument to be valid would be for much of the rest of society to share the same misinformed beliefs about these fields as well.


A nice sentiment, but not really logical. An outcome in Pao's favour would have been taken as evidence for institutional bias; by conservation of probability, an outcome against must be taken as evidence against.


That implies that the outcome has to be correct, which is - as always - debatable.


If she had won would you have felt the same way?


Yes. I was not there, I have no idea what really happend and if it shows a systematic bias. What I know is that courts are not infallable, so I would stand by my opinion without looking at the actual outcome of the court process.


If you believe an unbiased society would have ruled in favor of Ellen Pao, you could actually take this outcome as evidence for a general bias against women.


(P → Q) !=> (¬P → ¬Q)


I was speaking probabilistically.

Or, if you prefer: p(Q|P) > p(Q) => p(¬Q|¬P) > p(¬Q)


Then perhaps the 7th word in your comment should be probable and not logical.


But it's correct to say that the criticized handling of probability is illogical.

Wait, I can phrase that better. OP said that this verdict is evidence of bias. Responder says conservation of probability means that, if the not-guilty verdict is evidence of bias, a guilty verdict must be evidence against, which is illogical. "Illogical" is a correct characterization of this use of probability.


No, probability theory itself is logical. topynate just showed you the (deductive) inference.


Let's talk about a hypothetical case where we flip an unfair coin (more likely heads than tails). Every time it comes up heads we fire someone. Then some particular person says they were fired because we used an biased coin instead of a fair one. It's impossible to say that's why they were fired, but that isn't taken as evidence against bias.


Actually that's the opposite of logic. Absence of proof is not proof of absence.


I think the point is that people (mostly ones who don't really know the details of what actually happened) will just use the court outcome to advance their own pre-existing biases, regardless of what the court says.

Examples:

1) I am biased against Ms. Pao, and she wins: "This just goes to show that women can sue for anything these days, and win millions!"

2) I am biased against Ms. Pao and she loses: "See, women will sue you for discrimination even if you didn't do anything wrong!"

3) I am biased in favor of Ms. Pao and she wins: "See? This is clear proof that the bias against women goes all the way to the top of Silicon Valley!"

4) I am biased in favor of Ms. Pao and she loses: "See, this is proof that businesses can discriminate against women and not suffer any consequences."

Given that, in order for me to take someone's claim seriously, I would want them to pre-commit - before the result is announced - to a "court outcome interpretation." I don't care whether that interpretation is "regardless of what happens, the court outcome is irrelevant" or "I will accept the court ruling as 100% true and correct" - I just want consistency.


The OP didn't use the word "proof". He or she is correct that absence of evidence is indeed evidence (but not proof) of absence.


Actually, no absence of evidence is not evidence of absence in the general case; absence of evidence for a position can coincide with absence of evidence against the position.


The conspicuous absence of evidence is evidence of absence.


This interprets the situation as though everyone currently has a correct assessment of the probability of institutional bias, against which an outcome in Pao's favour would provide new evidence on which to condition to update the probability.

But that's not really the sense in which an outcome in Pao's favour would've been used dialectically.

Rather, people currently disagree in their assessment as to how probable it is that there is institutional bias. Those who are very confident that there is institutional bias feel that others, who are skeptical of the existence of institutional bias, are mis-assessing the existing evidence.

And so, yes, were an outcome in Pao's favour to come down, those who are currently confident that there is bias would use this to bolster their argument that the weight of evidence is on their side, such that others should revise their probabilities upwards to match. But even if an outcome in Pao's disfavour came down, they would still consider others to have mis-assessed the existing evidence, and would still feel the correct thing for bias-skeptics to do would be to revise their probabilities of institutional bias upwards, albeit perhaps not as much. And there would be nothing irrational or illogical in this.

[In the same way, if I were to argue with someone who claimed to have found an algorithm which could compress arbitrary data, and I challenged them to compress and restore a particular file, and they failed that challenge, I would say "See? You couldn't do it; that should convince you that your claim is erroneous". But if they happened to pass that one particular challenge? I wouldn't say "Ah, ok, you should feel even more confident in your claim to have found perfect compression". I would say "Ah, that challenge happened not to add to my evidence against your claim, but I still have good reason to disbelieve your claim, your claim is still false, and you should still sharply revise your credence in that claim downwards to match mine."]


As I like to put it:

Sure there's people who make spurious claims, and a few who get paranoid and blame discrimination for every setback they have. But that's sort of not relevant. The existence of mis-diagnoses and hypochondriacs doesn't disprove the existence of a disease.

Edit: my comment is 'meta.' I know little about this case, so I don't have a strong opinion on it.


I don't think the claims were "spurious." There was enough meat there where just because she lost doesn't mean there was no merit to her position. Also, I think she was an unsympathetic plaintiff. Being rich and sleeping with a married man shouldn't prejudice your case, but it does.


To add to her being unsympathetic, she played politics and she played it badly. One might argue that she felt a need to play politics because she was coming from behind (being female) and that her political salvos were more penalized because of her gender (which probably was true) than they would have been if performed by men, but it makes her not an innocent victim. This shouldn't matter, insofar as she's not on trial, but it's another bias-inducing factor.

The suit was not at all frivolous and, assuming Ellen Pao is rational, the fact that it existed at all is an indictment of the Valley. People don't sue ex-employers lightly, and she had John Doerr as an ally. So what I wonder is: what happened to fuck up her career so much that suing, with a mediocre case against a company that can call dozens of witnesses whom it employs, seemed the best option? It seems to suggest that the sleazy back-channeling that the Valley is constantly accused of is really there.

(The idea that she was doing it for the money, because of her husband's finances, I find absurd. I could be wrong but I didn't see it as remotely likely that she'd get $16M, even if she won.)

This is the story that piques my curiosity, because if I were her, I would have taken the severance and John Doerr's recommendation (and a contractually-mandated positive reference) as the ticket anywhere I wanted to go. What was done to her reputation that made that not possible? (Or am I completely wrong in this analysis?)


> (The idea that she was doing it for the money, because of her husband's finances, I find absurd. I could be wrong but I didn't see it as remotely likely that she'd get $16M, even if she won.)

Don't be fooled, there's still money in what she's doing. Plus other forms of personal gain. I doubt this hurts her with reddit given their actions over the past few years and this positions her to be a hero to a very powerful and growing political movement.

Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In has sold 1.6 million copies, if she gets $1.50/book thats $2.4 million. Plus $50-100k for speaking engagements, plus seminars, other branding, revenue streams, etc. She's a billionaire so if she ends up making $10+ million through her activism that's no big deal, but it shows there's decent money to be made there.

"Professional activist" is a now career. Anita Sarkeesian's kickstarter to expose male privilege in video games brought in over $150k, originally it was for under $10k but over time she's been able to monetize her victimization in the sense that the more she's "victimized" the more her supporters give to her so she can continue fighting the power. Her non-profit brought in almost $400k during fourth-quarter of 2014 because of gamergate. (http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2015/01/24/anita-sarkee...) Her career hasn't been hurt by discrimination, it's been made by it.

It's like racism and the black community, it's really bad for most of them but then there are the Public Enemy's and Al Sharpton's who thrive on it. Is Al Sharpton a victim of racism? In a way, but he's also a major beneficiary of it. Is Pao a victim of gender discrimination? Maybe, but she's positioned to capitalize on it either way. Could she make more than the $400k severance package she was offered? I wouldn't doubt it. Will it make up for lost income? That's only a question if reddit let's her go, which doesn't look likely: http://fortune.com/2014/11/13/reddits-new-ceo-may-not-be-int...

edit: ah, yes. The obligatory "you're not contributing to the discussion the way I want you to so I'm going to misuse the downvote button to hide your comment" downvotes.


>"Professional activist" is a now career

There is also a whole new careers like 'diversity consultants' who coach on men on 'ally skills'.

I am not making this up.


I upvoted you to cancel out the downvote, but I disagree.

First of all, the "professional activist" gig that you're talking about is one with a power-law distribution. Most people who speak out against bad behavior by employers end up losing for it. (I can speak to this one, personally.) Sure, there are a few people who hit big and make enough money to support themselves, but they're very rare.

From an expected-value perspective, she reduced her earning potential, even including the possibility of winning the suit. While she was asking for $16 million, as a lawyer, she probably knew that even had she won, she'd be lucky to get 1/5 of that, net of attorney fees. Meanwhile, she endangered her ability to ever return to venture capital.

Also, Sheryl Sandberg isn't really a professional activist. She's establishment. "Lean in", as I understand it, isn't about up-ending the corporate regime but adapting to it.


I appreciate the corrective upvote.

I also agree that the professional activist gig is rare and difficult to land, but that doesn't mean people don't try.

Pao is already making waves by cleaning up the "woman-hating mess" that is reddit. She's already gained hero status[0] within some circles for this lawsuit (sorry for the pay wall). It's hard to place a monetary value on securing yourself a place in the history books but that's what she's done, in 50 years her name will be listed among the brave women who fought for a better world.

Add in the human aspect of maybe not wanting to admit some personal failures and the lower bound of legitimacy needed to bring the suit isn't very high.

You seemed to be saying you couldn't see any possible motivation other than the legitimacy of the lawsuit, so I'm suggesting there are several beyond the obvious payout.

On Sandberg being establishment, I agree. But I don't think I agree that feminism in general or "professional activists" are anti-establishment.

[0] - http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/article/Ellen-Pao-like-An...


Wow. Can you step back for half a second and really examine what you're saying? You're saying, these people you are bringing up: women, minorities, etc. are weak, are not strong enough to pick themselves up, and require people to, "do what you can to support these people in your life, in all their endeavours". Can you turn your white guilt off for two seconds and realize maybe these people don't require your saving?


Institutional bias will always exist as long as humans create the institutions. Humans have bias. We are born, grow, and develop within the finite set of existing social clusters. Each one of us is just another node on the worldwide social graph.

We are all a node on the same graph, but every one of us is in a different section of the graph. Each of us has a "max flow" of influence that we can direct out of our node, into any given other node. Influence affects society, and it can be passed down within families. Families are small components of the social graph who can collude with each other. Assuming the "nodes" with the largest influence want to pass it to their heirs, then influence will naturally accumulate within families. The neighbors of max influencers need capacity to support the flow from the max influencers. Therefore the neighbors also have influence, and thus a component of the worldwide social graph becomes a concentrated subsection of wealth.

One way for families and their neighbors to protect influence is to form institutions. Literally, to institutionalize their influence. By definition, institutions are founded around a biased component of the social graph. It should be no surprise that they retain their structure across generations.

The only way to get a truly "fair" institution would be to seed it with a random subgraph of the entire worldwide population and hope that it could not only survive that heterogenity, but preserve it. We cannot force diversity into institutions like some bandaid solution to inequality. It needs to exist from the moment of creation, or else it never will.


> The only way to get a truly "fair" institution would be to seed it with a random subgraph of the entire worldwide population and hope that it could not only survive that heterogenity, but preserve it.

You have given in to the worst assumption about humanity, that we are hopelessly and irredeemably tribal. That we will only support our personal clan. And therefore the only way to achieve diversity is to start out diverse; everyone will remain despicably tribal in their loyalties, but at least power will have started out spread around.

I think that's a terrible perspective to take on humanity. Yes, we can be tribal. But progress has been incredible. For example, women have come from not being able to vote just a century ago, to being a large majority on college campuses. They did that because humans can appreciate higher principles of fairness and giving people a chance regardless of their personal attributes.

> [Diversity] needs to exist from the moment of creation, or else it never will.

This is so bleak, and so easily disproven (by lots of fields, including prestigious ones), that it makes me sad even to read it.


> This is so bleak, and so easily disproven (by lots of fields, including prestigious ones), that it makes me sad even to read it.

Honest question, but in what areas has this claim been disproven? In my interpretation, chatmasta's argument was fundamentally a mathematical one, that was basically just pointing out the likelihood of humans and human society being ultimately deterministic.

Are there some reasonable mathematical arguments against this possibility? Cause to me, it seems rather likely that humans are indeed deterministic (though still as fairly complex systems of course), and if so, we should probably start taking into account what kinds of [mathematical] implications that might lead to.


Interesting interpretation and I would tend to agree.

If society is not the result of a deterministic algorithm, it is at least the result of a stochastic one. Given a sufficiently large time horizon, is there really a difference between bounded probability and determinism?


> You have given in to the worst assumption about humanity, that we are hopelessly and irredeemably tribal. That we will only support our personal clan.

The argument I made does not assume we will only support our personal clan. It assumes we will support our own clan most of the time.

As long as enough influencers hold onto their influence or pass it down to their heirs, social structures will persevere. The very reason the structures exist in the first place is because they can withstand churn. There is a reason that "optimal group size" (hint: humans is 150) is higher in social species, and there is a reason why social species are evolutionarily more successful than other species. The fact that humans congregate into social structures is a driving force behind our evolutionary success. The resilience of social structures got humanity to where we are today. It would be naiive to think we could reprogram society to adapt to anything different than what has proved evolutionarily successful for the aggregate success of our entire species.

The problem with dominant social structures is that they are by their very nature so durable. If we want to mitigate their durability, two solutions are commonly suggested. One, we can reduce the ability of influencers to create new social structures by institutionalizing their influence ("inheritance tax"). Second, we can break up the social structures and start over ("wealth distribution"). Neither of these are particularly feasible for a number of reasons. Introducing either of these measures as solutions would require changes to the tax code. The effect of such a change would only have local effects, because there are hundreds of tax jurisdictions throughout the world. There is no way to unilaterally make radical alterations to the tax code, especially when the alterations upset the status quo.

The economic solution to disrupting the structure of the social graph would be to provide incentives for monetary flows that help disrupt it. We need to give the most powerful people in the world a reason to "donate" their influence to the least influential regions of the social graph. Otherwise, the lazy among them will default to the easiest option, which is consolidating wealth and power within their own clan. As long as enough of them choose the easy way out, the social graph will survive.

Massive change calls for massive shifts of incentive. I see very little chance of this happening for the political reasons cited above. Also, defining "influence" is tricky because its very definition is wrapped up in the factors of its magnitude. You cannot regulate something as intangible as "influence" because there is simply no way to quantify it.

> This is so bleak, and so easily disproven (by lots of fields, including prestigious ones), that it makes me sad even to read it.

Yes, it is a bleak outlook. I would rather confront the facts than bury my head in the sand.

I will not challenge you to find a solution to "fix" the current state of affairs. Instead, I have a more preliminary question for you.

What is the shape of an optimal influence graph for humanity? What does it look like, and how does it differ from what the graph looks like now? What changes can we make to progress the current graph in some direction toward the optimal one?

These are the questions you ask to solve problems. You do not blindly hope that humanity has some dormant gene in complete contrast to its evolutionary fitness, and that we can somehow summon it to fix all the problems in the world. There will always be problems. The way to fix them is not by resisting our human nature. It's to work with what we have, accept our constraints, and confront the problem in the light of day, not under the sand.


>idea that there is an institutional bias

Out of curiosity, just what kind of evidence would you need in order to falsify this proposition?


>Let's not let the outcome of this specific case affect the idea that there is an institutional bias - conscious or unconscious - against women entering and thriving in male-dominated fields like this one.

Where is the actual evidence this is true?


Absolutely. The idea that the pious and self-righteous are more interested in moral superiority than in actually helping any one is deeply hurtful. The pretentious have a right to be taken just as seriously as anyone else.


I can't express how happy I am that this is the top comment right now.


Without fanning class war and just to state a fact, Ellen Pao was able to afford top-notch lawyers, which you'd need to go against KPCB given what they'll do to your career. Only "the 1%" can do what she did and keep their careers and finances (after legal bills) intact. That doesn't invalidate her case at all but it informs the selection because, honestly, hers was one of the weaker ones. (That's not to begrudge her for filing it. I think well of her for doing so.) If more people (who are likely to have stronger cases) had such access, you'd see much stronger cases hitting the Valley elite.

It's similar to the Michael Brown case. On inspection, we found that his was one of the weaker cases when it comes to racial harassment by police. It doesn't invalidate the issue or the grievance.

Pao v. Kleiner was going to be a close call. I wanted to find KP guilty and, looking at the evidence, it seemed that the worst interpretation that I could summon was of negligence. They did fail in allowing her to recover her reputation after Mr. Nazre's attack on her. They did have a performance review system that allowed him to damage her professional reputation out-of-band to the point where she couldn't recover. That was a major moral failure on their part. (On the other hand, they seemed decent in offering a transition plan, and I'm surprised that John Doerr wasn't able to fix her career on an external vector, making all parties happy.) Gender discrimination? A tough call. Probably not, to be honest. Plenty of people have their reputations ruined because of irrelevancies and political chicanery. Management being bad at its job (in this case, performance appraisal) is not the same thing as a Civil Rights Act violation.

Is Silicon Valley corrupt as hell and a bit sexist? Sure. Is it likely that Ellen Pao's "personality conflicts" were, to some degree, gendered? Yes. Did Kleiner Perkins violate the CRA? It's not so clear. But I really don't want anyone to interpret this to mean either (a) that Valley meritocracy is vindicated, or (b) even that this suit was "frivolous", because it clearly wasn't.


> Only "the 1%" can do what she did and keep their careers and finances (after legal bills) intact.

Such a good point to keep in mind. I have such mixed emotions on that too. Is it good that some people have to opportunity to fight for chance for the other 99%? Or does having these things decided by that 1% miss the problems of the other 99%?


"Without fanning class war and just to state a fact, Ellen Pao was able to afford top-notch lawyers, which you'd need to go against KPCB given what they'll do to your career. Only "the 1%" can do what she did and keep their careers and finances (after legal bills) intact."

You are making a possibly incorrect assumption that this case wasn't handled on contingency. Pao's side could have potentially gotten over $100 million if she won punitive damages.


she was tainted enough to not be the right person to win this type of case. hopefully it does not dissuade those who experienced discrimination of the sort she claimed from coming forward in firms that need corrective action.

however the ny times article does a disservice to this case and other potential victims of what she accuded KPCB of. This is likely because the result is not acceptable based on the current tone in the media where discrimination is rampant and unchecked. It is the explanation the latch onto reflexively because they cannot accept and failure of character or action by the minority actor.

To put it in simpler terms, this is similar how Michael Brown could never be the martyr for police brutality and how it overshadowed a far stronger case in Eric Garner. The media only expects one outcome and overplays their hand and their stories are slanted.


I didn't downvote you, but the reason why you were downvoted is as follows:

1. This is an extremely sensational (aka emotional) topic

2. No one here or in the link has the full, true, story, but we definitely have our own opinions on this issue.

You want to have a fair and balanced discussion on this topic? Then go through the entire article and replace the following sensational trigger words with words that carry no emotional response to any one:

woman -> sigma class

discriminate -> operated on by a classifying function

harass -> operated on by a utility decreasing function

retaliate -> operated by a 2nd order markov function

sexism -> subset of classifying functions

By the way, re: "women are buzz kills", the more sensational articles like this we get that go about and draw a huge gulf between men and women - that, in modern social media parlance, seeks to "raise awareness" of the problems in sexism - the more women will become buzz-kills and men will become oppressors.

Is there a sexism in tech? Yes. But it wasn't a problem for any of us until we got "red-pilled" by social media (be it the tumblr SJW or 4chan's /pol/) and firmly convinced it was by cherrypicked statistics and carefully crafted words. And it has become far worse today thanks to sensationalism in the media and interested parties hyping it up. What used to be flirting, joking, and laughter around the office water cooler has now become tension and political correctness masking intrigue and malicious snarls of "she's a bitch" or "he's a pig". As a society, we need to figure out that just because Ellen Pao is a woman doesn't mean she, her case, or her situation has any significance for us individually as a person.

By the way, if anyone is interested in seeing what "sexism" looked like before social-media made it a toxic minefield, go get a job as a plumber or as a child-educator. If you can keep your chin up, be patient, and stop blaming society for your own problems, you can... As a girl plumber, be pleasantly surprised at how, despite the fact the guys all smell like sewage will wolf-whistle at you and hit on you, they'll be unblushingly fond of you and enjoy your company. And as a male child educator, despite the fact literally everyone will suspect you're a pedophile, the women will come around and stick up for you.


> It doesn't invalidate the issue or the grievance.

It most certainly does.

In fact, I would argue that the public's opinion of the validity of these grievances hinges on the outcome of these high-profile cases.

It's never a good idea to cry wolf.

edit: I'm not saying she was lying. Hell, I have no idea. What I am saying is that if people view this as a frivolous case or think she is lying, that most certainly does harm to the underlying cause.


I think what they're trying to say is:

Grievance - Racial minorities (specifically, black people) are unfairly discriminated against by law enforcement.

Just because, in this case, this tragic situation was deemed a legally acceptable use of force, doesn't mean that racial minorities are not generally discriminated against by law enforcement.

Similarly, just because this case wasn't a clear-cut case of gender discrimination, doesn't mean it isn't still a valid problem in this industry.


Ok, so let's talk about that case.

Michael Brown supporters/witnesses made claims about that situation that were later shown to be false.

I am arguing that the public ties the validity of that case to the underlying grievance.

Same here: If people think Pao was lying or view her negatively, that causes quite a bit of harm to her cause.


>Michael Brown supporters/witnesses made claims about that situation that were later shown to be false.

"made a reference to a woman’s testimony who claimed she had seen the shooting of the black teenager by the white officer, but she “clearly wasn’t present” at the scene. McCulloch reportedly said that the woman “recounted a story right out of the newspaper" that backed Wilson’s version of events surrounding the fatal shooting that occurred Aug. 9."[1]

"Most of the dozens of witnesses who testified likely did their best to describe what they saw, but a review of thousands of pages of grand jury documents shows that untrustworthy testimony came from some witnesses on both sides." [2]

"Key Witness In Michael Brown Case May Not Have Actually Seen Him Die, Report Says" [3]

[1] http://www.ibtimes.com/mike-brown-shooting-witnesses-gave-fa...

[2] http://edition.cnn.com/2014/12/14/justice/ferguson-witnesses...

[3] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/16/sandra-mcelroy-ferg...


Your point may be valid, but it doesn't address the argument or actually add anything to the discussion. You're basically saying people stereotype, which is not news.

The point/original statement is that people should not do this; whatever did or did not happen with Michael Brown and Ellen Pao in their specific cases does not actually have any bearing on whether there are general issues with race or gender discrimination in this country. Which IMO at least there clearly are.


I think I get your point, but unfortunately we can't let the value of "public perception" influence how we handle individual cases with individual circumstances. To imagine that a judge/jury would make decisions on this basis is actually a bit horrifying, if I may be frank.

I would much rather that the media focuses on the trials of the underrepresented many who are facing real gender discrimination in the workplace.


>> It doesn't invalidate the issue or the grievance.

>It most certainly does.

There's only a grievance if you assume that promotion at somewhere like KP is evidence of empowerment.

If it's actually evidence of something else - like being recognised as a member of the nomenklatura on the VC scene - then perhaps it's more evidence of successful conformity than successful empowerment.

IMO you don't win at empowerment by playing someone else's game and complaining you lost and that's not fair - you win by creating new games and making the other games irrelevant.


She didn't cry wolf. She was unfairly treated by her employer. Gender was probably involved in some cases of maltreatment. But a jury ruled that her employer did not violate the Civil Rights Act. There's a difference between a company being shitty and it breaking the law.


Sorry, I should have been more clear. I don't know if she was lying. But, if people view her as dishonest, I think that most certainly does harm to the underlying claim (in the public's opinion) that women in Tech are mistreated.

> There's a difference between a company being shitty and it breaking the law.

I agree. Strip mining is pretty shitty. Fracking too. But what's your point? Our courts shouldn't be used to expose 'shitty' companies. They should be used to punish unlawful actions.


But who decides if an action is unlawful? Oh, that's right... the courts.


What? I think you're confused.

It isn't the purpose of the US Judicial system to look at an action and say 'We don't like that asshole, so we're going to just say what he did was illegal and punish him'.

You need to cite a specific infraction, charge them with it, and then prove that person/firm committed that crime.

It sounds like you would rather start with an action that upsets you, make it illegal and retroactively punish people. This is pretty much the opposite of how our system is supposed to work.


* But who decides if an action is unlawful? Oh, that's right... the courts.*

Your comment can be massaged into something reasonable with a bit of after the fact recasting, but in the context of the parent post that's possibly the most misleading way to characterize trials and judicial review that I've ever seen.


This is an excellent analysis and I'm shocked you were down-voted. The selection problem here is very real.


There are a few people with intense biases on any controversial topic, and they often vote first. Over the years I've gotten used to seeing a sudden negative dip followed by a slower positive trend when I make comments on some contentious issues. I agree the gp is well worth people's time.


I think he was downvoted because some people can't see further than his Michael Brown analogy.


I hope HN voters are not down voting for that reason. The Brown incident is a very strong point for michaelochurch's argument and a good, current example.

The DoJ report was specific and full of examples. Brown was in the wrong (hand up was a media creation), but the Police were systematically oppressive (the tickets for the monetary example). I have several issues with the current DoJ, but the investigation and documentation looks pretty well done. They prove there is a real, systematic local problem, but the focus of the investigation is not an example of it.


They were probably downvoted because they say bluntly that they wish KP would have been found guilty, but then go on to say that it isn't clear if they violated CPA and they probably didn't discriminate. Their bias is clearly outlined in their comment, and they certainly aren't being objective/logical. Why find someone guilty if they aren't, by your own words, "probably not guilty"?

This case was about justice, not advancing causes.


> They were probably downvoted because they say bluntly that they wish KP would have been found guilty, but then go on to say that it isn't clear if they violated CPA and they probably didn't discriminate.

If they were downvoted for that reason (rather than the more likely, but also inappropriate, reasons also offered in other comments of either the post author's identity or people not reacting to the Michael Brown reference) then people seriously need to read.

He didn't say he still wishes KP was found guilty, he said he wanted that coming into it, but even with that initial desire couldn't see a basis for finding anything worse than negligence. E.g., he said even coming into the case biased against KP, he couldn't view the evidence as strongly supporting wrongdoing.


Please don't skip over the parent comment just because of how heavily it's been downvoted (which is mysterious). Very reasoned analysis.


Might be because of the last para "Is Silicon Valley corrupt as hell and a bit sexist? Sure." This is quite offensive statement which does not add much value to the argumentation here.

However, I'm in general very happy with comments I read here. Different POIs presented in a civilized, respectable way.


>"Is Silicon Valley corrupt as hell and a bit sexist? Sure." This is quite offensive statement

???? What? Who would find this "quite offensive"? I'm offended anyone could be offended at such a claim.


Honestly, I'm surprised to find myself agreeing with michaelochurch, as him and I have different opinions on many things. In this case, though, I feel he's spot-on. Shame he's down so far.


This is a great example of how I hate that HN tries to make downvoted comments hard to read.

I'm glad I went to the effort of reading this comment and have upvoted it because I see absolutely nothing inappropriate about it.


You don't see anything wrong someone "hoping they were found guilty" even though they admit themselves that the company "probably didn't discriminate"?

If they're guilty, find them guilty. If they're not guilty, find them not guilty. Don't find someone guilty just to prove a point or advance your cause. That's not justice.


I see something wrong with presenting someone's clearly-stated presentation of the bias they came into the matter with before reviewing the evidence as if it were a characterization of their position after reviewing the evidence.

I also see something wrong with inventing quotes in order to support the above mischaracterization (and find that particular form of dishonest especially silly in a comment in a threaded medium where the original isn't far away, so that the falsity of the quotes are obvious to anyone who spends even a second looking.)


That's a really weird reading of michaelochurch's comment. Note the past tense -- he "wanted to find KP guilty". I'm pretty sure he was simply illustrating his initial reaction to the case, that he feels KP isn't completely innocent, but (more irrationally, perhaps) also that SV clearly has some problems with sexism.

But the case is about whether or not Pao was mistreated by KP on the basis of her gender, and to that, as the jury has (likely?) decided, michaelochurch's opinion is "probably not".


I don't think that's what the comment was saying at all. The things you quoted don't appear in the comment.


To echo the others, I'm not sure why this has been so heavily downvoted.


I think there is an algorithm that automatically downvotes michaelochurch.


There are now 12 comments (and counting) complaining about this is being downvoted and the only ones actually discussing what they said (or being critical of it) are being downvoted... Hackernews is turning into reddit.


If you're referring to yourself, you are being downvoted because you have a reading comprehension issue, you're not discussing what he said but what you think he said and that's a huge difference.


No, I wasn't referring to myself. I was answering his question. I myself went on to discuss what he said. I even quoted him verbatim. I didn't have to speculate or "think".


Sad to see this downvoted.


I don't understand why this was downvoted. This is a pretty well-written and balanced perspective, to those scrolling through the comments, I highly suggest copying and pasting this comment into a text editor and giving it a fair read.


I suspect he may be getting downvoted for suggesting that the plaintiff had a weak case, and as one of "the 1%" was not likely to garner much sympathy with a jury. There are many better examples out there of women struggling to break through the very glass ceiling that she's spent her career strolling around on top of.


The fact that this is so downvoted that I had to cut and paste to read it reflects poorly on HN.


Could someone who downvoted this explain why?


If you know the principals involved, or saw everything the jury saw (including legal instructions from the judge), you might have a valid opinion on why any particular legal result is either scandalous or righteous.

But if you're just a distant spectator, cheering a team based on general affinities to the kind of people on either side, or general causes without regard to the case specifics... then you're actually part of the problem, making workplaces and communities unfair to real people based on superficialities and acquired prejudices.


This is the best comment here, and among the only ones relevant.

This trial is about two parties. It isn't a proper representative in any way of any other parties or of any larger ideas or trends in tech.

12 people were tasked with carefully listening to all the evidence over a month, and not listening to the media summaries. They decided for KP. We have very reasonable basis to trust that they got it right, or that at least they did as well as we could given the same evidence.

What does this say, if anything, about more general matters? Bayesian statistics might suggest that it decreases the belief in rampant sexism among VCs. But by how much, it's really impossible to tell. So we don't have much of a basis to change any general views on the industry based on this case. Just like it would have been had the verdict been the opposite (but again, Bayesian-wise it would have been some amount of support to the opposite position).


> Ms. Pao, it emerged in testimony, compiled a “resentment” chart of colleagues who, she believed, wronged her.

Wow. How petty. There's so many things that came from this case that make me question how much of the testimony from her is real and how much of it is in her head.

Another example, from a recent re/code article:

> Ellen Pao said she filed her gender discrimination lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partly because of three female administrative assistants who had been discriminated against because of their gender

> There is only one problem: No one in the courtroom seems to know where these admins are. No one seems to know the details of their grievances. No one in court, including Pao, even knows all their names.

And then:

> Pao also said she was told by Kleiner Perkins talent partner Juliet de Baubigny that Nazre was a “sex addict.” To her, that pointed to a larger unspoken history. “I thought she must have additional information and maybe about the administrative assistants,” Pao said.

> Asked on the stand today whether she ever called Nazre a “sex addict,” de Baubigny replied, “No, that is completely ridiculous.”


Well, the last example is really a "he said/she said" situation, to be fair. If there's no proof otherwise besides Pao's testimony, it would make sense that de Baubigny would say it never happened.

I did think the "resentment chart" was very high school, though.


I am sad to see this bigotry that looks down on people who organize their thoughts and experiences on paper, vs keeping mental grudges that are likely psychologically biased.


There's nothing inherently wrong with keeping a list like that - just the way it is presented in the article makes it feel very juvenile.


That article isn't trying to remain impartial at all.

By about half way down they gave up all pretence and started arguing that Pao's case was valid/accurate even if the jury disagreed.

You'd almost think the author forgot she actually lost. 12 people decided she had no case, what would be enough for this author? 20? 50? I doubt even that would do it, they've pre-decided what actually occurred.


>That article isn't trying to remain impartial at all.

I have not seen one single article on this trial that hasn't been very heavily biased in favour of Ellen Pao. Not one.

I'm not surprised this isn't the case yet again. The media are calling this institutional misogyny regardless of the facts or the judgement by the jury. If she wins, it's institutional misogyny, if she loses it's institutional misogyny.

At this stage I'm convinced that tech journalism is the lowest form of journalism available today.


I agree. Discrimination and drama sells regardless of their probability.


Not to say I agree or disagree with this jury, but a dismissal or acquittal does not necessarily mean the case had no merit. OJ was acquitted, after all, and many, many people are wrongfully found guilty.


> OJ was acquitted

A civil finding of no liability is, in principal, a stronger (though still not certain, obviously) indication because the usual civil standard of proof (preponderance of the evidence) is symmetric, as opposed to the asymmetric standard (beyond a reasonable doubt for conviction) favoring acquittal in criminal cases.


>OJ was acquitted, after all

Do you know something that the jurors don't? Reasonable doubt. That's how the system works.


> Do you know something that the jurors don't?

This is weird question, because in OJ's case we know a lot of things that the jurors didn't. Part of the critique of the prosecutors in the case was that they decided not to enter a lot of material things into evidence (e.g. the entire Bronco chase).

Also, there are a lot of things that happened since then that the jurors did not know (because they didn't happen yet). He did write a book that was a description of himself committing the murders (but it is "hypothetical").


[deleted]


> OJ was unanimously found guilty by the jury in his civil trial.

Civil trials don't find guilt, they find liability. And, aside from the difference in evidentiary standards (beyond a reasonable doubt vs. preponderance of the evidence), the actual fact question in a criminal murder charge is substantially different than that in a civil wrongful death charge -- one can be liable for wrongful death on the same pattern of facts under which one would not be guilty of murder.


12 people decided she had no case...

Factually incorrect on two counts:

1. They didn't decide "she had no case". Deciding whether or not a claimant "has a case" isn't even the jury's job. They're there to decide whether or not the evidence supports the claims.

2. You might want to re-check the jury poll again. (Hint: not all 12 jurors decided against Pao.)


I found this to be surprising about the entire coverage of the case.

Following tech blogs and checking HN links, you would've thought that Pao's case was bulletproof, with some minor nuances and qualifications. After reading the full details of the arguments on both sides, I now understand why the jury ruled the way it did.


That's probably not media bias but a function of trial mechanics: the plaintiff gets to present their case first and that's where the first reports – and your first opinion – are drawn from.


Note that it is still bias! In a psychological/statistical sense. A good lesson to remember.


Yea, That is how I feel too. I was really shocked, by the verdict.

Then I looked into more of the details, and I'm shocked again by how irresponsible the media is. After the Brian Williams fiasco, my faith in american journalism seems to keep taking massive hits.


The right wing news sources I read made it look bulletproof that she was manipulating things and would lose. I didn't even read the tech news as SV has a crazy liberal bias. Steve sailer had nailed a good analysis right from the start I believe


Strictly speaking only some of those 12 decided she had not case. The verdict was no unanimous.


The article speaks to the larger issue of discrimination of women in the valley in general. Just because Pao's case didn't convince a jury doesn't mean everything is peachy.

And even in her case there's a grey area where discrimination can occur without it being illegal. In that case, you can win in court but lose the trial of public opinion.


The verdict just happened. Writing the article did not.


Indeed, the last sentence

> One of the stranger points brought up in testimony was how Ms. Pao, before she was married, had dated a colleague for six months without ever realizing he was still living with his wife.

sounds like the article wasn't even finished.


"Realizing"? She asked him about it and he lied to her.


Yes, and she was in a relationship for six months after the lie and failed to realize he was still married. (Or, she lied)


...and what about the married man who was also in that relationship, and lying about being married for those six months? And not just a lie of omission, but "We aren't together any more."

Yeah, maybe she ... "showed questionable judgement" for believing his lies, but he actively lied. What does that say about his judgement?


I thought the same thing.

While it is kind of odd that one can go out with someone for 6 months, live in the same city as them and never visit their house.... this guy was actively lying.

Its entirely possible, wanted to visit his place all the time, and gave a laundry list of bad excuses until she finally broke up with him for being dishonest as the relationship was becoming increasingly serious in her mind.


It's highly unusual to see someone for 6 months and not realize that they're still living with their spouse and kids. Even if the other person tells you it's not the case.


I don't think it's necessarily that unusual if you're dealing with a person of means or capability in deception.


We don't know what kind of "seeing" they were doing though - "dating" someone in modern lingo can mean anything from casual sex twice weekly to having breakfast every morning together. There's a huge variance in the type of information you know about someone between those two types of relationships.


Sorry, I was just quoting the last sentence in the article.


I know, it's just really poor word choice on the part of the author.


That's an interesting point. I didn't actually consider that maybe they pre-wrote this article. That does explain a lot.


David Streitfield writes anti-tech hit pieces almost exclusively, and sometimes forgets to try to remove his opinions from what would otherwise appear to be factual articles.


> By about half way down they gave up all pretence and started arguing that Pao's case was valid/accurate even if the jury disagreed.

where?


About half way down and beyond.


Listing someone's claims is not the same as an endorsement of them. I find the article quite neutral and well-written. Writers cannot and should not speculate on why a jury may have decided claims were deficient because juries don't supply justifications for their verdicts, although jurors may choose to give interviews afterwards.


> I find the article quite neutral and well-written.

Sorry but this is not neutral:

> Most were heavily disputed by the defense, but they nevertheless served to define Kleiner as having refused to evolve since it was formed in the early 1970s.

So she claimed one thing, the defence claimed another, but the author thinks "Kleiner [.] refused to evolve since it was formed in the early 1970s."

The article spends a great deal of time talking about her accusations, but absolutely no time talking about their accusations towards her. It doesn't even try to qualify her accusations, and they're stated as near facts (which is ludicrous given the jury decision).

Essentially the article has taken a side. The whole third of the article is dedicated to "women in SV" and how they're discriminated against. Hard to call that neutral given the subject matter, it hardly reads like something which could be supportive of Kleiner for example.

Look, I can totally understand if people agree with the article. I cannot understand how anyone could call the article neutral or balanced. It simply is not. It has a side/agenda/bias, regardless of where you stand on the issue.


The thing is that accusations towards her are meaningless, insofar as KP didn't launch a counter-suit. Nor should you read the jury decision as meaning her allegations were not factual; a jury may agree with the factual allegations but not that they were evidence of systematic discrimination. One could, for example, feel sympathetic to Pao but think that her managers were merely bumbling fools rather than deliberately promulgating a sexist policy.

As for the writer's bias, consider another extract from elsewhere in the article:

Ms. Pao is married to Alphonse Fletcher Jr., a Wall Street financier whose hedge fund is bankrupt. Pension funds are suing to recover their money amid accusations of fraud.

There's no presentation of Fletcher's position at all, but I don't infer from that that the author considers him a fraudster. Pointing out that it's raining doesn't mean you desire people to get wet.


The article:

> The suit and the trial introduced a number of colorful phrases that were said to have been uttered to or about Ms. Pao. Most were heavily disputed by the defense, but they nevertheless served to define Kleiner as having refused to evolve since it was formed in the early 1970s.

The second sentence is a statement about the phrases that Ms. Paro alleges were uttered by employees of Kleiner Perkins. It is not a statement about Kleiner Perkins.


It's bad writing. "Nevertheless" implies that someone chose a winning argument, and the weasely writing doesn't say who.


> By about half way down they gave up all pretence and started arguing that Pao's case was valid/accurate even if the jury disagreed.

So what? The reporter isn't obligated to think the jury was correct.


Well, I don't see anywhere in the article that flags it as an opinion piece.

The reporter has a right to his opinion. The jury has a right to theirs. We have a right to ours.

None of that excuses opinion journalism masquerading as journalism.


Literally all journalism is opinion journalism. There's no unbiased way to record any story where the word "why" must at any point be asked. The desire of some well-meaning but foolish people to hold journalism to that standard gives cover to the ones who will adopt that cloak of impartiality and use it to lie to you.


The goal of journalism is impartiality. And most good journalism comes as close as it can come. This article is not an example of that.


What? The goal of journalism according to whom? Because Tom Wolfe--from whom a very large chunk of modern journalists can be said to descend--would laugh at that notion. There's also the natural fallout of "impartial journalism" having that imprint; Chomsky and others have noted that it leads to a massive endorsement of moneyed and powerful parties in most cases at which you'll point. Which may be fine for you, but certainly not me.


I dunno. According to Wikipedia:

    Thomas Kennerly "Tom" Wolfe, Jr. (born March 2, 1931)[1]     
    is an American author and journalist, best known for his 
    association and influence over the New Journalism literary 
    movement in which literary techniques are used in objective 
    even-handed journalism. 
The term "objective even-handed journalism" is a link to another Wikipedia article, which begins:

    Journalistic objectivity is a significant principle of 
    journalistic professionalism. Journalistic objectivity can refer 
    to fairness, disinterestedness, factuality, and nonpartisanship, 
    but most often encompasses all of these qualities.
Looking over this, it seems that he editorialized and opined on a great many subjects, but those appear at least to have been contained to essays, novels and opinion pieces.

I'll freely confess not knowing the man, or his work, and only know what's contained in and linked from the Wiki articles, so please correct me if I'm wrong, but to the idea that he would laugh at journalistic objectivity seems off to me, from what I'm reading.


I encourage everybody to read the closing arguments liveblog at http://recode.net/2015/03/24/live-closing-arguments-in-ellen... to see the defense's side of the story that is at least based on facts established during the trial before believing seriously biased mainstream news stories unquestioningly repeating Pao's initial claims (or HN posters jumping to conclusions with their claims of "damning" testimony or "sexual harassment.") The VCs might be assholes and there is real harassment happening but there was just no evidence of discrimination in this particular case and if it was decided differently, it would have been a setback to both men and women in the workplace.


Good time to be woman in tech. My company has a special program to identify and promote specifically women to management roles. Not meritocracy. Even a male in a team works and performs better, he loses because the policy is to get some percentage of women into leadership. Let the down voting begin.


100% agree with you. I actually regularly tell my female friends that their is no better time for them to get into the tech industry. As long as they can match the "average ability" then they can pretty much get their pick of the jobs, as well as countless benefits in their schooling.

I'm currently in school now majoring in computer science. I'd say its about 70-30 guys to girls in my comp sci classes, but 65-35 girls to guys in the whole school(Of course no one gives a shit that there is basically 2 girls for every guy in the school). Every week I receive emails from my faculty that are along the lines of "Come to this event to promote women in technology" or "Come participate in this high school event to get girls more interested in technology". As well the amount of women only benefits is astonishing. This includes numerous scholarships, special tutorials, private talks etc..

Anyways the school is fairly well known for its computer science program and has very good connections to the tech industry. If you are top of the class you will most likely get a job at any of the big companies. If you are a girl and around average you will also likely get a job at any of the big companies. This isn't to say their are some very talented girls who deserve it.

Last thing that I find pretty hilarious. Lets say for example Google is hosting an event where you can ask questions and get to know the recruiters. They will also hold a separate event the next day which is for women only. And it's not only Google I'd say its pretty much every big company that does this. They don't even hide the fact you have a huge advantage in getting the job you want just because your female.


What really ? I have one co-worker who seems to really resent me, and I couldn't figure out why.

I feel like I'm tired of trying to prove myself to the guys over and over, but just thinking that their feelings could be reasonable makes me feel sick.

Then I think about all the corporate advice books I've read, which basically say life is tough, limited spots available. You have to constantly prove yourself to every person you meet to get ahead. . .


Meritocracy is a myth, didn't you hear?


Now we know why they hated that rug so much.


Not so fast: https://twitter.com/NellieBowles/status/581566725889490944

> The jury was 8/4 on one count, so the judge says he can't accept the verdict right now, has sent them back into deliberations.


Jury came back. Juror #3 swapped their vote on claim 4 so it's 9/3 now, in favor of Kleiner Perkins. Verdict has been accepted.


Out of curiosity, does anyone know if this is a common action by judges, or something out of the ordinary?


California Superior Court requires a 3/4 majority in civil jury trials. All states require a supermajority in civil cases, and federal courts and about half of state courts require unanimous verdicts.


It is currently Kleiner 8, Pao 4. She needs 9 to get a judgment in her favor. One of the jurors that voted for Pao on all counts has to leave the jury on Monday if the trial is extended at which point they will be replaced with an alternate.

Pao has no chance here.


If the jury doesn't understand the rules properly, it's pretty common for the judge to send them back to figure it out.


How difficult is it to understand the rules and what does it say about the jury if they don't?

Edit: I really don't understand HN's obsession with downmodding legitimate questions. Either provide an answer or move on.


> HN's obsession with downmodding legitimate questions

"What does it say about the jury?" is not a legitimate question; it's a patently loaded rhetorical question. Or really, an insinuation disguised as a question. "What does it say that X?" is code for "X is a red flag."

If you want to make an accusation, come out and make one.


That's, just like, your perception, guy.

Do you start with the presupposition that juries are infallible? Surely their actions must leak information about their constitution?

If a jury cannot follow (what is assumed to be) basic rules, then how can one be assured that they capably analyzed the facts and case issued to them and then appropriately applied matters of the law (written rules) to them?

Edit: Since you edited after my response: I am not making any accusations. Strange that you assume so. I just don't know enough information about the specifics to make any judgments. That's why I asked the question(s) in the first place.


If a jury cannot follow (what is assumed to be) basic rules

That's why you got down voted: you assumed something, without knowing, and you were completely wrong. Read a jury's instructions just once, and then let us know how basic it sounds then.


This is why I started with the question, "How difficult is it to understand the rules[?]".

I haven't seen the rules posted anywhere, or any real discussion on the rules or how hard they are to follow. Have you?

Also, I'm not sure what is wrong with the assumption that jury rules should be "basic", as in, understandable to a jury member. Do you assume that jury instruction should be complex, complicated, and not understandable to a jury member?


A quick Google found the actual jury instructions for this trial: http://www.scribd.com/doc/260138329/Jury-Instructions-for-El...

14 pages of fairly dense legalese. How difficult can it be to understand them all?


The way you phrased the question makes it sound rhetorical. "How difficult is it to understand _______?" is almost always a rhetorical question; if you genuinely want to inquire about the difficulty, you kinda have to bend over backwards to make that clear to readers.


I guess I just don't see it ("How difficult is it to understand _____?" being a rhetorical question). It sounds like a pretty straightforward and legitimate question to me. Of course, your perceptions may differ.


A jury of one's peers is, by definition, imperfect.

However, after studying millennia of history, we as a people have decided that this is still the least bad model yet invented.


Legitimate question, does any other country use the "jury of your peers" model? Afaik most european countries don't


> Legitimate question, does any other country use the "jury of your peers" model?

The concept originates in another (European, to boot) country -- it comes from the Magna Carta.

It is, at a minimum, common among the coutnries whose legal system descends from that of England, which are somewhat numerous.


Cheers!


This is completely dodging the (hard?) questions and deflecting to historical actors.

Also, I didn't decide anything (and I doubt you did either). This is the system I was born into and it as been operating without my input.


What questions did you have in mind?

P.S. Note that I'm not asserting that the current system is perfect. Just that we (again, as a society; not me and you specifically) decided long ago that the drawbacks of letting 12 schlubs decide a person's fate were exceeded by the drawbacks of letting only the well-educated do so.


>What questions did you have in mind?

How about the 4-5 I already posted in the direct ancestors of this thread (e.g. the the one you originally responded to [but did not answer]).


> Do you start with the presupposition that juries are infallible?

No; I answered that immediately in my first reply.

> Surely their actions must leak information about their constitution?

That's not actually a question, but even if the answer is yes, that's what I mean about juries being only the least-bad solution we've invented so far.

> If a jury cannot follow (what is assumed to be) basic rules, then how can one be assured that they capably analyzed the facts and case issued to them and then appropriately applied matters of the law (written rules) to them?

One can't. See previous answer.


I was on a jury once. Many, many people can't follow simple jury instructions, figure out the difference between an argument and a statute (seriously), etc. And most of them had an education level beyond college. It was the most eye opening experience of my life.


Yeah, the jury system is scary. It's also better than any other alternative that anyone else has come up with so far.

Much the same criticism can be applied to representative democracy in general. It sucks but it beats, e.g., the plutocratic cult-of-personality that Russia currently has. And what about Somalia? Rule by warlord?

FWIW my jury experience differs from yours. I have been on a number of juries in my life and I wound up with a relatively good opinion of most of my fellow jurors. There was only one juror (out of IIRC about six juries) that, it was immediately obvious, was very close minded and basically unclear as to her civic responsibility. But most of my experience is 15 or 30 years old. Perhaps jurors have gotten dumber since then?


The rules may be poorly communicated to the jury. On the one jury that I was on, they were perhaps cryptic, and by the time I figured them out I found an error in the way that we were supposed to address all the counts that we were considering.

Such clerical errors are a part of any sort of human process. It's not the end of the world as long as there are processes in place to correct the errors.


That's what I'm asking. How often does it happen? What makes the rules so difficult to understand? Do most juries understand and this is just a poor jury?

Can we look at the rules in this case? Or do we just have to go off NYT reporting and uninformed HN spectator speculation?

You'd assume a centuries old institution (jury trial) would have worked through what seems like a very basic problem: how do you communicate to the jury (which is the ultimate object of the trial) what exactly they are supposed to do?

How can you judge whether a jury is incompetent (or the judge and/or the lawyer(s))?


(a) one case I sat on in Massachusetts, the statute was written very obtusely and the judge said she was not allowed to give us the statute in writing. The jury literally went back in 3 or 4 times to ask for the instructions and statute to be read again.

There was the statute, which then referred to other places for definitions of 4 or 5 terms, which also had to be read. Keeping a statute and the definitions in your head is not simple. Lawyers don't make their arguments in the absence of being able to reread the written law. Appeals courts can read the law when making judgments. But for some reason, as a jury, we were expected to keep it all in our head.


It is my understanding that juries are empowered to do pretty much anything they please. I'd guess in your case that the judge was operating under a technicality of the language (per usual), he may personally not be able to give you any written thing except for the rules agreed to. However, the jury should be able to request that the actual statutes be delivered to it. If words are not defined in that statute, then the jury can request that the appropriate definitions be delivered to it.


Same thing happened to me on a jury I was on. We found an error in the jury instructions and had to be issued new ones.


It's even more fun when people downvote objective, verifiable facts with which they apparently disagree. I will never stop shaking my head in sadness at seeing that happen.


Having sat on one case: More difficult than one might anticipate.


Not sure on this but a few parts of this case are out of the ordinary like the jury asking questions during the case.


I sat on a California civil jury last year, and we were able to ask witnesses questions. They were heavily filtered and reworded by the judge and attorneys, and asked by the judge. I think it strongly affected the outcome in my case.


> Not sure on this but a few parts of this case are out of the ordinary like the jury asking questions during the case.

AFAIK, jurors asking questions (or, at least, proposing questions which are reviewed by the counsel and actually asked by the judge) is not out of the ordinary anymore in trial courts in California. Certainly the criminal case I served on a jury for included that.

Most of the sources I can find on it are somewhat old (around 2000) and indicate that it was then not legally mandated to be allowed, and that a minority of judges did it but it was growing in popularity (they also indicate that even then, it was mandated in some states that jurors be permitted to submit questions.) It may still not be a majority practice, but I've seen it frequently referenced in news reports of cases, so I don't think its particularly unusual anymore.


Firms that are bad to their employees get busted fast.

Firms that are bad to their employees - that comes from the top people who set the tone and culture. If the people at the top were bad, KPCB would have been kaput LONG LONG AGO.

KPCB has been around for FORTY THREE years. If the people at the top -- who are still there after all this time -- were bad to their employees, we'd have heard about it a LONG time ago.

John Doerr runs the firm. John Doerr has been there for Thirty-Five Years. We would have known long ago if KPCB was bad to their employees, because the same people have been at the top running the firm all this time.

After you've been in the workplace (and this may not apply if you're just an 'individual contributor' type of person) and seen the narcissism up close -- and seen it more than once -- and you've read the description of the 'narcissistic personality disorder' profile -- you'd see Ellen Pao all over:

* Pretending to be more important than they really are

* Bragging (subtly but persistently) and exaggerating their achievements

* Claiming to be an "expert" at many things

* Inability to view the world from the perspective of other people

* An obvious self-focus in interpersonal exchanges

* Problems in sustaining satisfying relationships

In short, she had problems with others at KPCB. The jury saw that John Doerr very gently tried to help her. That was all the way back in 2006, at her very first review.

From 2005 until she was fired, she was working there on borrowed time. Anyone else with the consistently bad teamwork skills would have been let go LONG ago. Only because the head of the firm, John Doerr, tried over and over to help her 'get over herself', was she able to remain employed there.

Again, if you've ever worked with this type of personality, you'd have known, after reading her history (link below), that her lawsuit was the narcissist' siren call, "I know I did well, and no one else thinks I did, so they need to be punished".

http://www.paradisepost.com/business/20150304/john-doerr-tes...


I think it is very clear that there is an environment in tech world that is off putting to women and it probably discriminates against women in general.

But it isn't at all clear to me that Ellen Pao got rejected from partnership because she was a woman.

I assume that is why the jury sided with Kleiner Perkins.

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