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Ellen Pao Isn't as Complicated as You Think

Pao says the most misunderstood thing about her is that: "I’m not complicated. I was raised in New Jersey, I worked hard, I believed in the meritocracy."

Asa Mathat for Re/code

The title of tech newsmaker of 2015 will likely go to someone best known for a crushing defeat.

Ellen Pao.

Although the former VC was defeated in a head-turning lawsuit that charged an iconic Silicon Valley venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, with institutional sexism, her case sparked outrage across the country and sustained a vital conversation about why women are largely absent from the centers of power in the technology industry.

Pao’s day job is also fascinating. She leads the enormously popular social media site Reddit, which, after years of running mostly on autopilot, has ramped up its technology and business development. Her two worlds came together earlier this month when she spearheaded efforts to tackle Reddit’s history of harassment and hostility toward women and other users.

We liveblogged Pao’s remarks today at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., where she was interviewed by Re/code’s Kara Swisher.

Some notable highlights:

  • Pao said she “didn’t plan on becoming a symbol,” and while the result wasn’t what she had hoped for, it did encourage others to share their stories.
  • On the differing reactions people had to Pao’s trial: “It’s complex. If you’re not invited, is that such a big deal? The difference is, it’s constant … It adds up. And over time, people realize that it is not an even playing field. And that’s what people related to.”
  • “Silicon Valley wants to think of itself as a tolerant place, but it’s not an even track to that success … when you see only 6 percent of women in VC firms [and] women CEOs who get pushed out. Same thing with minorities.”
  • Pao says the most misunderstood thing about her is that: “I’m not complicated. I was raised in New Jersey, I worked hard, I believed in the meritocracy.”

Follow the liveblog as it happened below:

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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