Ellen Pao, interim CEO of Reddit, has become well known for bringing an employment discrimination lawsuit against her former employer Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers that played out in court earlier this year.
Mostly because of the nature of a court trial — which Pao lost, though she has indicated that she may appeal — Pao’s public words on the case have been limited in length and format. There were a couple of days of friendly time on the stand being questioned by her own lawyer, a couple of days of contentious time on the stand being questioned by Kleiner Perkins’ lawyer, and some brief statements following the loss.
So it was rare and compelling to see Pao in a fast-paced conversation with Kara Swisher on the Code conference stage speaking at length about her world view (she said she doesn’t see herself as a symbol, for one thing), her case, her opinions about a lack of meritocracy in the technology industry and her efforts to lead Reddit.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Watch the whole interview here:
“I didn’t plan on becoming a symbol” — Ellen Pao
Kara Swisher: This is the interview I really, really wanted to do. This is the one interview for this conference that I thought was super important for all kinds of reasons. Re/code made a big commitment to cover Ellen’s trial. But we also wanted to bring her here to talk about her job at Reddit and other issues. So without further ado, Ellen Pao.
Swisher: That’s some unusual music to play on with you.
Ellen Pao: Funky.
Swisher: Tropical. So, there’s so many things I want to ask you. First and foremost, we talked about this a little bit: Do you regret doing this?
Pao: Not at all. It was something that I had thought about deeply beforehand. And of course it was harder than I thought it would be. But I had been warned it would be really hard. And afterward, when there was so much response to it — and during, there was some response — but afterward, there was so much response, I connected with so many people, and they felt a connection to the story that I told. And that was important to me, to give people this outlet to see: This is the worst thing that can happen to you, and you can come out of it, and it’s fine.
Swisher: And when you say “doing it,” I don’t think many people want to become iconic in ways that are controversial. That you’re a symbol of something. Do you imagine you’ve become a symbol of something, and what is it? You lost. But what is the symbol that you were hoping to have happen, and what do you think you represent now?
Pao: I didn’t plan on becoming a symbol. It was more — I wanted to just tell my story, share my experience and let people know what had happened to me and see what the outcome was. It didn’t come out the way I wanted it to, but it ended up that I became a symbol for different things, and the symbol that I focus on is just this person who told her story and allowed other people to feel more comfortable telling their stories.
Swisher: During the trial, one of the things I thought was interesting is trying — you were sort of at the center of it? Are you the perfect victim, or are you difficult, or are you problematic? Are you likable? That was sort of a fascinating thing for women. (About herself) I’m not likable at all.
Pao: I like you.
Swisher: I know you do. I don’t know why.
Pao: But that’s because I’m not likable.
Swisher: Not-likable people don’t like each other. Or like each other, actually oppositely like each other.
Pao: Birds of a feather.
Swisher: Birds of a feather. Did you become sort of a cartoon figure? You can insult our coverage as much as you want. But what did you think happened to you as a person? Because you’re a person who’s living, breathing, you have a kid, married. What happened to you in that way? What did you think people got wrong about you?
Pao: It was just so hard to really tell my story. And the courtroom isn’t the best place to do it. I’m not able to talk about it outside the courtroom. So it’s a very complex issue. People come to it with a lot of baggage. I think that a lot of people feel a super-strong connection to me because they had similar experiences. They don’t really know me, but they feel a connection because we’ve had this same experience. Other people don’t like me because of what I represent. This idea that the world is not a meritocracy, and that there’s unfairness [is] very uncomfortable for some people.
Swisher: Is it possible that it’s unfair and maybe you didn’t do your job very well? Is that possible?
Pao: A lot of things are possible, yes. I think I did a great job. I stand by that. There were a lot of people who think I didn’t, and they’re free to have their opinion.
Swisher: We’re going to get to the bigger issue of diversity in Silicon Valley, but are you going to appeal this? People are waiting to find out. When do you have to appeal? What is the time frame?
Pao: I believe I have until June 8 to file a notice of appeal. And we are discussing it with my legal team. I’m not really free to discuss it right now.
Swisher: Okay. I got that. But, what would be the considerations? Why would you do this?
Pao: I can’t really talk about it.
“It adds up, and over time there comes a point where people realize that it is not an even playing field, and it’s not a fair environment, and I think that’s what resonated.” — Ellen Pao
Swisher: When you think about the trial — and you can’t talk about the particulars because you’re in the appeal — a lot was brought up about the unfairness of women, the likability of women, things like that. What do you think was the most resonant part? It was fascinating to me to see the difference between men and women’s reactions. And there really was. And the difficulty of people to talk about difficult issues around this, and to be able to be okay with complexity. That maybe some people didn’t agree that you were very good at your job [while] other people thought you were. Complexity is hard for people.
What do you imagine has to happen in the work place to solve these issues? Because very high-ranking women, when they would read our stories — and they almost read it like it was a soap opera, which was fascinating. Sue Decker wrote a fascinating piece: “I know that. I know those microaggressions that women get.” If they say something to a microaggression, they’re a bitch — excuse me for saying that word — but that’s what you said. Over time, it collects. Why do you imagine the differences of opinion? Because it’s sort of the same set of facts in some way.
Pao: Because sometimes the microaggressions are complex. There’s one thing that you’re not invited to. Is that such a terrible thing? But when it adds up and it’s, “Oh, you were talked over, but, oh, sometimes people talk over other people and that just happens.” But it’s this constant thing that happens to you, and it happens to other women, and it happens to minorities, or it happens to people who are different. It adds up, and over time there comes a point where people realize that it is not an even playing field, and it’s not a fair environment, and I think that’s what resonated. They saw all of these little pieces of my story that matched up to experiences they have had, or an experience they had seen. I didn’t see as much of the bifurcation by gender. I had a lot of men come up to me, too. An angel investor said, “My mom got moved into a broom closet when she got promoted,” and that part resonated with him. There were different pieces of a story that were very real to people because of their personal experiences, or their moms’ or their wives’ or their sisters’.
Swisher: And what do you imagine can happen to solve it? You’re talking about “mansplaining,” for example. And we do see that. I mean, just personally, Megan (Smith*, CTO of the U.S.) got mansplained by Eric Schmidt in front of thousands of people.
Pao: Saw that.
Swisher: Which was riveting to see. Now, he does talk over a lot of people, and he’s done that before. But it was really fascinating to see that happen. What has to occur? John Doerr seemed to want to fix the situation. He really seemed committed to it. I’ve talked to him about it. They have more women partners at Kleiner Perkins than other places. Believe me, the bar is so low. But the fact of the matter is, they do. What has to happen? Because you had commitment there, at least talking about commitment and actual results. What has to change in the thing?
Pao: It is hard. I see the Eric Schmidt example. I think six months ago, people probably wouldn’t have said anything. And they would have let him talk all over Megan, and nobody would have said anything. And it would have been, “End of conference, everything’s fine.” So, people now speaking up, calling attention to it, I’m sure he didn’t do it on purpose. He wasn’t out there saying, “I’m going to talk over this woman today because I don’t want to hear what she has to say.” He was just doing what he does. And now he’s more aware of the things that he does, that he’s probably going to try to change. I mean, I’m sure he doesn’t aspire to be the guy who talks over women. He aspires probably to be somebody who treats people fairly.
Swisher: But what has to happen? Is it conversation? I mean, do you imagine things going backward, or that people will? Because we wrote about this idea that if you won, VC firms would not hire women. That was one thing. Another well-known investor came up to me and said, “You know what we should have? Women VC firms and men VC firms, like in sports teams.” And this was serious. I was, “Are you fucking kidding me?” I’m sorry. And they were, “Yeah, absolutely.” It’s not intercollegiate sports, and frankly I think that should be a little bit more integrated, too. But, where’s the solution to this?
Pao: It’s hard. If I knew I would be telling you.
Pao: I think it’s partly calling attention to it. So, these little things, these little microaggressions, getting people to be more aware of the things that they’re doing, people having conversations and just thinking about it. I had a VC tell me they’re changing the rules for what they look for in candidates because they’ve realized that their current requirements are giving them a pool of almost all men. I spoke to somebody last weekend who is a private equity investor, he runs his own firm and he sees this as a huge opportunity: “I’m going to find more women CEOs because people aren’t investing in it, and I know that I’m going to have a huge advantage.” So by calling attention to this issue, by having these conversations, by showing the data that shows the diversity of opinion and diversity of teams is helpful — that’s all driving certain people in the right direction. It’s not going to get everybody, but it’s progress.
“Oh, God, I hate the pipeline issue.” — Ellen Pao
Swisher: Do you think that it’s better now? Is it an era of people? I mean, things have changed around gay marriage, things have changed around all kinds of social issues, is it an age thing? Where do you see the problem, or is it just a simple pipeline issue?
Pao: Oh, God, I hate the pipeline issue.
Swisher: Why do you hate the pipeline issue?
Pao: Because: “I can’t do anything, it’s a pipeline. I’ve got to wait until we get 50 percent women coming out of these schools studying computer science. So I’m doing my best, and it’s a pipeline issue; it’s out of my hands.”
Pao: It’s a much bigger issue. It’s the leaky pipeline, it’s not treating people fairly when they come in and they get there. It’s not making it a fair playing field. It’s not giving people opportunities. It’s not giving people the recognition when they do succeed. There’s a whole slew of things that people can do to make it more fair and to give people an even playing field. And when you talk about the pipeline, that’s an excuse not to do anything.
Swisher: What about the word “unconscious bias?” I hate that word. You know I’m at war against it.
Pao: I didn’t know that.
Swisher: There’s a word — unconscious bias: “I didn’t mean to be biased. I didn’t mean to do it.” To me, it’s an excuse for laziness: “I didn’t see that there are 10 white men sitting across from me in my board room. I don’t know how that happened.”
Pao: But they don’t, they don’t see it.
Swisher: My kids: “I didn’t see that shirt on the floor, Mom. I didn’t see it. I don’t know how it got there.” And it’s a disgusting mess. “I don’t know what happened.”
Pao: But if you call attention to it enough times, they’ll start seeing it.
Swisher: No, not my kids. They don’t; people actually don’t.
Pao: I think it’s just the way it is. I was talking to somebody on the way up, and she says, “In every meeting, I’m with all men. It’s all the time.” And sometimes she doesn’t even notice it anymore. And that’s when you come up and you’re just surrounded in the same environment all the time — you get used to it. And it becomes less of an awareness thing. And right now, I think what’s happening is [that] people are calling attention to it and saying, “This status quo is not comfortable for most people. And you should now be aware, when you’re in a room with 10 white men, that [it] doesn’t make sense. And now, instead of leaving that shirt on the ground, you should pick it up and put it away.”
“Here comes that troublesome Ellen Pao” — Kara Swisher
Swisher: Do you think you’ve suffered professionally for doing this? Because — if you’re right, whatever side you’re on — you lost this case. Financially, big case for you, have you lost something, and do people treat you differently?
Pao: It’s a mix. I definitely had a hard time getting a job.
Swisher: “Here comes that troublesome Ellen Pao.”
Pao: Oh, yeah. I’m not that likable. So that’s out there, right?
Pao: I’m not likable, and I’m a poor performer. So it was hard for me to get a job. And I was very lucky that [former Reddit CEO] Yishan Wong took a chance on me. His board took a chance on me at that time, and put me in, and then they had me come in as interim CEO. That’s been a huge help to me. There were people who wouldn’t talk to me. There are people who are nervous to be seen with me. It was not a good time when I sued. It’s something I would not recommend for other people, because it is very difficult.
Pao: You have to have a lot of conviction that you are right, you have to have a lot of conviction that your story is meaningful, and you have to have the toughness to weather through the personal attacks and people judging you.
Swisher: Is there any part of it that, when you reflect on it, that you might have been wrong?
Pao: I would love to say, “Oh, there’s that one thing that I should have done differently, and then it would have been so easy for me.” But it’s not. For a woman, it is hard. For minorities, it is hard, because there are 1,500 things that you have to do differently, and you have to thread that needle perfectly.
Pao: And so, I wish it were just one thing. And I could say then to everybody else: “You just avoid doing this one thing, and you’re going to be successful.” But it’s not that easy, unfortunately.
Swisher: You’re running Reddit. You’re still interim CEO. Why don’t you have the CEO job, by the way?
Pao: We said we’d do it for a year and see what happens.
“I think Silicon Valley wants to think of itself as a tolerant place.” — Ellen Pao
Swisher: When you’re thinking about diversity it’s not just women. It’s minorities. One of the things that did strike me during the trial was descriptions of you as being difficult, inscrutable. There was a word — “inscrutable” was used — which is used for Asians. It was really interesting to watch it. And I thought I was the only one, and I think maybe I was, perhaps, but I kept noticing there were all kinds of words. Again, I think Silicon Valley tries really hard to think of itself as a tolerant place, as a meritocracy.
Swisher: And yet the same results happen. Do you think of Silicon Valley as a tolerant place?
Pao: I think Silicon Valley wants to think of itself as a tolerant place. It aspires to be this place where it’s a true meritocracy, and people who work hard can succeed, and look at all these people who came from nothing and were very successful. But it’s not an even track to that success.
Swisher: And a meritocracy — is that just a thing that people here tell themselves in order to feel better?
Swisher: “I made it because I was –” Do you think it is one?
Swisher: Or it can be?
Pao: No, I don’t. When you look, it’s only 6 percent women in VC firms. You look at the level of funding for woman-led startups, you look at woman CEOs who get pushed out of their roles and replaced. It just doesn’t seem like that could possibly be the case.
Swisher: And in the case of minorities?
Pao: Yeah, the same thing. It’s hard to find a lot of minorities at the executive level. It just doesn’t happen very often.
Swisher: And when we’re talking about the pipeline issue, I want to end on this part, you don’t like the pipeline excuse. There is a pipeline problem still.
“I wish I could tell you, ‘A, B and C,’ and then you can solve the [diversity] problem.” — Ellen Pao
Swisher: Where is the fix? One of the things that’s from this — people all have stories. They have negative stories. Everyone’s got something. Different people don’t agree with you, there’s a lot of people that don’t agree with you. “This woman was not a good performer.” That was it.
Pao: It’s easy. Then, it’s a fix, there’s no problem.
Pao: We can all move forward.
Swisher: So what is this? If you could name three things that had to happen, what would be the three things that you would fix at a company? You’re running a company now.
Swisher: What would you do besides awareness? I pay attention a lot. I mean, we were talking about diversity. [Re/code is] very diverse in women and men.
Swisher: We have a lot of different diversities. We do not have enough racial diversity. We have all kinds of gays, transgender, everything else. We’re good on that. We’re good on that thing. But we do not have enough racial diversity, and as I started to think about it last night, because Evan [Spiegel] didn’t have the best answer to that — how do I do that? I do spend a lot of time with it. We do spend a lot of time in this conference doing that. It’s not easy. But we actually are cognizant of it. Give me three things that need to happen.
Pao: I wish I had three things. I wish I could tell you “A, B and C,” and then you can solve the problem. We are experimenting at Reddit. We are trying to make diversity something that everybody thinks about, and that they value. It’s something that brings different ideas to the table, and it gives you the best workforce and the best environment to succeed. So it’s having everybody thinking about it, so it’s not that one person’s job and everybody else can go and do their business.
Swisher: The diversity officer.
Pao: Right, which is great. It’s better than nothing, but when it’s, “Oh, let’s let the diversity officer take care of it,” it’s that one person who’s kind of saddled with this gigantic difficult problem. We’re trying to level the playing field by providing some transparency and providing a much better environment for people to negotiate for their salaries, and to look at performance.
Swisher: Explain what you’re doing around the salaries.
Pao: We’re testing out a no-negotiation policy where, for new candidates who are applying to Reddit, we don’t negotiate salary. We’ve done a ton of research, we’ve pulled information from our VC firms, we’ve pulled information from the marketplace to come up with what is market comp for these different roles. We’ve got different levels, based on experience and skills. And we’ve got different salary bands for them. And when somebody comes in, we figure out what role they’re applying for, and what band they’re in, and we give them what we think is a fair salary in that band. We’re not looking to give people the lowest salary they’ll take that we can get them at. We’re looking to provide them with what fair salaries for folks are in the market.
And that helps them, because it’s known that women are one-quarter as likely as men to negotiate for pay and salary, and when they do, they’re often penalized for it. “How dare you ask for more than we’re offering you? You should be happy with what we’re willing to give you.” So instead of having that whole unpleasant interaction where you’re really at odds with the person that you’re trying to bring in, we’re just going to go and say, “This is what we think market rate is. This is what we think is fair. If you want some more cash, we can give you more cash; we’ll take away some equity. If you want more equity, we’ll take away some cash and we’ll give you some more equity.” It takes a lot of the tension out of the process. We’ve had people apply to Reddit just because of that policy. A lot of people are just, “I hate negotiating, I always feel uncomfortable, I never know if I got the fair amount,” and this eliminates that discussion.
“And they say you’re not likable.” — Ellen Pao, joking with Kara Swisher
Swisher: You think that negotiation is a bad thing, then? To be able to do that? Meaning that men are better? I know the feeling — I had a man who I was trying to fire ask for a raise, which was fascinating in some way.
Swisher: It was, “I’m telling you I hate you. Please ask for more money.”
Pao: And they say you’re not likable.
Swisher: I know. Well, I’m not. But it’s worked for me, Ellen, much better than you.
Pao: I’m trying.
Swisher: I know, I know. You could be a reporter. So, non-negotiable salary, because men do negotiate stronger, and they get more.
Pao: Generally. There are some women who are very good.
Swisher: Right, yes.
Pao: But we’ve also found when they were negotiating with the potential managers, some of our managers were not good negotiators, so there’d be this skewed set of salaries, and now we’re just trying to clean it all.
Swisher: What else? Give me one more thing.
Pao: When we look for hiring, we try to build a candidate pool that is diverse. I did this when I was a VC, too. I’m not looking to bring in only a certain type of person, but I would like to see a candidate pool that has different types of people. It forces people to work more creatively about what they’re looking for in candidates, where they find the candidates. And we found a lot of people were really good who might not have fit the role. One woman came into Kleiner as an EIR (entrepreneur in residence), she was part of a CEO search, and she didn’t quite fit the role, and she was great at EIR. So, looking outside of what your standard places to find people are.
“We are not about stolen naked pictures.” — Kara Swisher, suggesting Reddit’s next corporate motto
Swisher: So, let’s talk about Reddit.
Swisher: Much problems on the Reddit with the discussion, the community. People might say you’re hypocritical. You run a community that has a lot of misogyny on it, a lot of difficulty. I went on it the other night, and I really had to bathe after parts of it. Other parts are fascinating. But the celebrity naked photos, those were not your fault. You were not the CEO at the time. But it was a sort of a tolerance for that kind of thing. So is that a tolerance for that because you’re building a community? Or do you need to take responsibility — “Ellen Pao, you’re the CEO of this place!” — for a site [where] that happens in quite an amount.
Pao: Reddit is the Internet. And it has people from all over the world, it has people from all over the country. We have 170,000,000 monthly uniques, and some of them have things to say that we don’t agree with.
Swisher: Let me be clear. Some of them have things to say that are vile and misogynist. It’s not, “We don’t like.” I don’t know what to say, because you’re saying, “First Amendment,” I get that. But at the same time, you have a company that allows that to happen. Do you have a responsibility? Maybe you don’t think you do.
Pao: We have a responsibility to promote the values that we have as a company, as employees and as a site. So we spent a lot of time thinking about it after the naked celebrity photos. It was something that none of us felt very comfortable with. Overall, we’ve decided we don’t want to be a site where people put stolen pictures. It doesn’t feel good to us. It’s not what we want to come to work to do every day. And we really sat down and thought about, “what are our values, what do we want for the site?” We also don’t want to be a site that censors content. We want to be a site where people are able to express their ideas, but they have to feel comfortable doing that.
Swisher: That’s kind of an Occam’s razor. What are you doing to do?
Pao: It’s hard.
Pao: We’re trying to push the line and see where we can get more people on board and prevent people from feeling like they’re not able to say what they want to say. It is another difficult problem. But we’ve always had this strong commitment to privacy and to safety. And part of the benefit of anonymity is the safety to express your ideas. And if we become a site where people are not comfortable expressing ideas because they think they’re going to be attacked by other users, they think they’re going to be attacked in real life, that doesn’t fit with what we believe in as a platform. And we’re pushing to create an environment where as many people are comfortable sharing their ideas, and if there’s a set of people who really just want to push other people out, who don’t want to hear other ideas, they don’t belong on our site.
Swisher: What about dealing with some of the edgier stuff. I’m being nice about “edgier.”
Swisher: Just simply vile is what it is.
Pao: We are making changes. Earlier this year we implemented a policy where we said, “We really don’t want to have stolen naked pictures on our site. So if you’ve had an experience [with] naked pictures that were stolen — revenge porn or whatever you want to call it — we will take it down. We will take the links down, and we will make sure it is not part of the content that we are excited to share on our site, because we are not about stolen naked pictures.” And that was a first step in.
Swisher: That is a good corporate motto: “We are not about stolen naked pictures.”
Pao: It’s one.
Swisher: Although, there’s a whole business — you could say, “We’re about stolen naked photos.”
Pao: A lot of businesses have done well. That’s not us. That’s not what we want to be. And that was a first step in taking more responsibility for what happens on our site. We’ve always talked about being this platform for freedom of speech and free ideas and for protecting people’s privacy, and now we have to own up to some of the behavior on our site, and make sure that we really do have a site where everybody feels comfortable sharing their ideas.
“I’m actually not that complicated.” — Ellen Pao
Swisher: What is the thing you think is most misunderstood about you? And I’m not, “If you were a tree, what tree would you be?” But what do you think has come through that isn’t like you? Because you’re a complicated person, just like a lot of people are.
Pao: I would say that’s the most untrue thing that’s out there about me. I’m actually not that complicated.
Pao: I was raised in New Jersey in a small town. I went to public school, and I was taught to work hard and do a good job. And for me, it meant kind of believing in the meritocracy, and just working really hard. And when I saw that it wasn’t actually the case, I felt that I had to speak up.
Swisher: Do you think you have a long career in Silicon Valley, in tech?
Pao: I hope so. I don’t know. Maybe you can tell me.
Swisher: I will.
“I think going out and being successful in my job as CEO of Reddit will be hopefully helpful for other people. And then maybe after that I’ll have something to talk about.” — Ellen Pao
Swisher: Questions for Ellen, please. Questions, questions. Joanne Bradford.
Joanne Bradford [head of partnerships at Pinterest]: I was just curious on the monetization front. You’ve made some change most recently to your ad products and your offerings. Can you just share a little bit about that and what your pitch is to sell Reddit to advertisers?
Swisher: I was going to ask that. Thank you, Joanne. The money lady..
Pao: We are more focused now on advertising and on goals. We are no longer looking at building an e-commerce site today. We want to focus on getting our site moving forward. And we just brought on board this awesome guy from Google, Zubair Jandali, who is focused on mobile ads. So we’re looking at native ads on mobile. We’re shipping mobile products, and excited to be able to test out different ways of getting more Reddit-like experiences into the advertising on our site.
Swisher: Earlier, from BuzzFeed, you have sort of a halfhearted effort to get everyone to stop taking your content and using it on media sites. Do you ever imagine being a content company?
Pao: We are actually a content company today.
Swisher: But, using that content?
Pao: Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder, has come back to help us do that. And he is taking some of the best content out of Reddit and packaging it up in a way that is more curated, more edited, easier to digest. And he’s got an awesome podcast, he’s got an awesome video effort; you’ll see some of the products of that coming out soon. And we did this AMA app where it’s more digestible, more packaged and easier for people.
Swisher: Do you mind media sites taking your stuff?
Pao: We have this awesome content-embed product, so we would love for them to use that. But it’s great for people to be able to have their conversations out in the broader public. We prefer for them to give us credit and to give the user who created the content credit, and that’s been one of the things that has been bothersome about some of this stuff that’s been going out there. But it’s awesome. We have these great conversations, we have this great content, and we’d love for more people to see it.
Question: Hey, Kara and Ellen, just one more question on that. [BuzzFeed editor] Ben Smith talked about the problem with editorial and advertising differences with native [advertising content] — how will you deal with that in your environment?
Pao: We have a pretty strong line between our content and our advertising, and we have probably been more on the restrictive side. We make everything very clearly noted, and our content comes from our users. There are some people who try to spam with content inside the organic content space, and we try to get rid of that. We’re going to hold on to that line.
Question: We talked a lot about what responsibilities companies have to build the appropriate pipeline and create the environment where everyone can succeed. But what advice would you have, particularly for younger women and minorities, on the responsibility that they have that will prevent them from experiencing some of the things that you and many others have?
Pao: It’s hard when I hear you say, “Oh, they have extra responsibility,” I think it’s, “be aware of where you’re going into, try to think about the environment that you’re joining, and set yourself up to succeed by finding an environment hopefully that’s more open to folks than other environments.” But it’s hard, because you’ll get opportunities, and somebody has to be the first. So it really depends on what you want to do, but go into it aware of what you’re doing, and knowing.
Lisa Dickey: Hi, Ellen. So, you didn’t file the suit intending to become a symbol. This was never your intent. But for better or for worse, you did become a symbol, and you are a symbol. My question is, how comfortable are you with that, moving forward? Would you be comfortable assuming a more serious role in saying, “Okay, now I’m this person, I’m going to speak about this, I’m going to organize”? I know you’re busy running a big company, but how comfortable would you be moving forward in that kind of role?
Pao: It’s not my personality. I’m much more of an introvert, and so coming out and saying, “I’m going to be a symbol, and I’m going to go take everybody to this great place, and I’ve got these steps that you should do” — it is a complicated issue, and I’m not one to dumb things down and make it really kind of packaged in a simple way. I think going out and being successful in my job as CEO of Reddit will be, hopefully, helpful for other people. And then maybe after that I’ll have something to talk about. But right now, I’m going to do my job and hopefully do really well at it.
Swisher: Are you going to write a book?
Pao: I don’t know.
Pao: If I had time, I would, because I think I have some things that I want to share. But I just don’t know when I would have time to do that.
Question: Hi, Ellen. Do you think that the chatter in the media coverage around your husband’s financial and legal dealings was fair, or do you think it’s more of the sexism in our industry?
Pao: I think it was really unfair. I think it was something that was intentional on the part of some people, and it is not something that you would see come up with other people. So, yeah, I did not like that at all.
Swisher: Ellen, thank you so much.
Pao: Awesome. Thank you.
* Kara Swisher is married to but separated from Megan Smith, chief technology officer for the Obama Administration. See her ethics statement here.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.