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Ellen Pao: We've made progress battling sexism in Silicon Valley

In an online essay, the former Reddit CEO says more women and minorities are speaking publicly about discrimination in tech.

In her essay, Ellen Pao urges women struggling in a male-dominated work culture to "not give up."
Robert Galbraith/Reuters/Corbis

Ellen Pao isn't going away quietly. "Speak up." That's the former Reddit CEO's advice for combating sexism and discrimination in Silicon Valley.

Pao, who lost a high-profile discrimination case against venture capital giant Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers earlier this year, believes the tech industry is slowly getting better as more women and minorities publicly share their bad experiences. She detailed her own struggle Tuesday in an essay for actress Lena Dunham's online newsletter Lenny.

Pao believes "we have really made some meaningful progress."

People cannot make "thoughtless remarks" anymore because someone can capture them with a camera and post them online where "it will live on forever," she said.

"Don't be silent. Sharing my story privately, and eventually publicly, meant a lot to me and to others," she said. "Women and men are talking about gender and discrimination issues across the globe."

Pao has repeatedly vowed to share her experiences in tech in the hopes that others will also speak more publicly about discrimination in the industry. Her legal battle has ignited ongoing conversations about gender and racial disparities in Silicon Valley. Those talks have lead to some tech heavyweights, including Apple, Facebook, Google and Twitter, to reexamine their diversity training.

In July, Pao resigned as interim chief executive officer of the social news site Reddit following several controversies upsetting some of the site's users. Some users complained that Pao was encouraging censorship at the site, shutting down five forums associated with harassment. They organized a petition demanding Pao step down and collected more than 200,000 signatures.

Pao, who acknowledges being called at one time the "most hated person on the Internet," also in the essay urged women struggling in a male-dominated work culture to "not give up."

"You are not alone. There are millions of women and men who are supporting you and want you to succeed," she said. "Many people will try to blame you -- for some, it's just too hard to acknowledge their own failings and the failings of our system. That's on them, not on you."