Valley Voice
Why Germany needs its own Ellen Pao

Silicon Valley’s first sexism trial is nearing an end. The lawsuit, filed by a fired venture capitalist against her former employer, drew attention to the gender gap in tech – which Germany needs more than anyone else.
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Everybody in tech follows the news about Ellen Pao and her lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins & Byers. Pao, a former venture capitalist, now CEO of Reddit, is suing the well-established Menlo Park company for 16 million dollars in lost wages. She says her former employer has discriminated against her because she was a woman. Kleiner Perkins says that Pao turned out to be unqualified to be promoted.

So far, nobody has really looked good in court. On one day Ellen Pao’s lawyer presented the better arguments, other times Kleiner Perkins seemed to be more convincing. It’s a very complex case to decide for the jury who will start now to hearing the closing remarks. It’s tough to prove whether employees were or weren’t disadvantaged because of gender. The same is true for the opposite.

Regardless of what the ruling will look like, the case changed a lot. It reminded everyone of the unacceptable behaviour of a manager with Tinder or Evan Spiegel, CEO from Snapchat, and his questionable image of women. So in a way the Kleiner trial became a trial of Silicon Valley.

Kurz und schmerzhaft: alle Kolumnen

Kolumnenkabinet

It’s no news that there are not enough female techies. According to its diversity report, Google employs 17 percent female engineers and 30 percent women overall. The same is true for Facebook with 31 percent female employees, Yahoo (37%) or LinkedIn (39%).

Silicon Valley has started to fight sexism. The initiatives “Women who Code” and “Girls who Code” try to interest more girls and women in coding. Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg and investor Marc Andreessen organized a two-day boot camp for female leaders.

But let’s look how Germany is doing. According to Bitkom, an association for German IT-businesses, last year the quota of women in tech overall is only 14 percent. That’s hilarious! That’s half of what Google or Facebook achieved.

Es gibt auch eine deutsche Version dieser Kolumne.

Immer Dienstags schreibt Britta Weddeling, Korrespondentin für die Themen Internet und Netzwirtschaft des Handelsblatts im Silicon Valley, über die neusten Trends und kleinen Kuriositäten im Tal der Nerds.

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