SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The woman who lost her high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit against a Silicon Valley venture capital firm said Thursday that she is dropping her appeal and ending the case that became a flashpoint for inequality in the technology industry.
Ellen Pao said in a statement that she cannot afford the risk of incurring additional costs to fight Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. A jury in March found that the firm did not discriminate or retaliate against Pao when it fired her in 2012.
“This battle has been painful for me personally and professionally, and also for my family,” Pao said. “It is time to move on. I look forward to continuing the conversation about workplace equality and to building great companies in the technology industry.”
Pao’s lawsuit went to trial amid an ongoing discussion about gender inequity at elite technology and venture capital firms, where women are grossly underrepresented. Industry observers said during the trial that the case had led some companies to re-examine their workplace cultures and practices for possible obstacles to hiring and promoting women.
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Pao’s decision to drop the lawsuit won’t weaken her impact on gender inequity in Silicon Valley, said Freada Kapor Klein, founder of the Level Playing Field Institute, which aims to increase diversity in the technology sector.
“(Ellen’s lawsuit) has completely reshaped the conversation about bias — both overt and subtle — in Silicon Valley,” she said.
In her statement, Pao said she had not reached a settlement with the firm and will pay some of its legal fees. A judge ordered her to pay Kleiner Perkins $275,000 in legal fees.
Kleiner Perkins said in a statement that it was glad to put the case behind it.
“There is no question diversity in the workplace is an important issue. KPCB remains committed to supporting women and minorities in venture capital and technology both inside our firm and within our industry,” the company said.
Pao recently left her position as interim CEO of online discussion forum and news site Reddit amid anger among some users over the firing of a popular staffer and new policies intended to fight harassment. Pao said in an email Thursday that she is currently reconnecting with old friends and colleagues and “taking time to figure out what is next.”
During the trial, Kleiner Perkins attorney Lynne Hermle tried to portray Pao as someone only interested in money. She said Pao, whose lawsuit sought $16 million in lost wages and bonuses, failed as an investor at the company and sued to get a big payout as she was being shown the door.
Pao’s attorneys said she was an accomplished junior partner who was passed over for a promotion because the firm used different standards to judge men and women, and that she was fired when she complained about discrimination.
Pao told jurors that her lawsuit was intended in part to create equal opportunities for women in the venture capital sector.