Former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao was one of the first women to speak up regarding harassment and discrimination in Silicon Valley. In 2015, she sued the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins on the basis of gender discrimination (the full story of which is shared in her book, Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change), and later that year she made the decision to take down controversial Reddit groups that were promoting harassment — sparking a backlash that eventually led her to step down as CEO.
For the timing of these experiences three years ago — before the #MeToo movement and Facebook Senate hearings — Ezra Klein thinks of Pao as “the canary in Silicon Valley’s coal mine.” Here are Pao’s book recommendations about resistance, race, and being an outsider.
1) So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
Pao’s first book recommendation tackles the fraught subject of race in America with humor and candor. A New York Times best-seller, So You Want to Talk About Race sheds light on “the way that people who don’t have privilege experience the world.”
Beautiful Souls shares stories of resistance — from German soldiers who turned in their guns during World War II to the whistleblower who refused to sell a product that was being falsely advertised — and explores why and how we choose to dissent. Unsurprisingly, what Pao took from the book was that “often the people who are speaking up and trying to change a company are the people who care the most about it.”
3) Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
As a child of a black mother and a white father during apartheid in South Africa, Trevor Noah “didn’t fit into a clean category.” In his best-selling memoir, Noah describes living in a world where his very existence was proof of criminal activity.