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Culture

Ellen Pao jury reaches verdict

After two days of deliberation, six men and six women reach a decision in Silicon Valley's highest-profile sex discrimination trial.

The jury has reached a verdict in the gender discrimation case filed by Ellen Pao, shown here taking a trial break on Wednesday. Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

SAN FRANCISCO -- The verdict is in.

The jury in the Ellen Pao trial against influential venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers will announce its decision soon in a sex discrimination suit that has mesmerized Silicon Valley.

The jury will read its decision to San Francisco Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn at 2 p.m. PT. The outcome in this month-long landmark case could have a far-reaching impact on how the entire tech industry hires, treats and promotes women.

Pao, 45, sued the prestigious firm for $16 million in damages. She accuses Kleiner Perkins of promoting men over women and being punished after she complained. Pao was fired in 2012. She's currently the interim CEO of the social news site Reddit.

Kleiner Perkins disputes Pao's allegations and claims that about 20 percent of its senior partners are women -- three times more than the industry average. The firm contends that Pao was a hostile employee who created tension and mistrust.

The jury had to decide whether Pao's gender and poor job reviews were the reasons Kleiner Perkins did not promote her to senior partner. The jury consisting of six men and six women also factored whether Kleiner Perkins failed to take reasonable steps to prevent gender discrimination, and if the firm harmed Pao.

Pao also could receive punitive damages, potentially adding tens of millions to her claim. That amount would be determined later.

Regardless of the outcome, the trial raised the curtain on one of Silicon Valley's most prestigious and secretive venture capital firms. Critics say gender bias pervades the tech industry overall, creating a hostile culture for women and minorities.

Many of tech's biggest players, including Apple, Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft, have reported their employee base is mostly male and white. Within the past week, two former female Facebook and Twitter employees sued their respective companies for alleged gender discrimination.