Conservative opinionater, provacateur and frequent feminist-offender Amity Shlaes writes at Bloomberg yesterday that “women win in venture capital when they don’t sue.” Seeing as how women have been not suing for years, and by our count 35 out of the 71 largest venture capital firms in the U.S. have all male partners, we’re not sure the logic holds up.
Ellen Pao’s discrimination lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers will “probably not” be good for women in venture capital, Ms. Shlaes argues, before making her way through the Corn Maze of Fantasy:
There are two kinds of companies in the U.S.: square ones and wild ones… The wild type, common in venture capital, does everything differently, starting with the open office.
to the Thickets of Broken Logic:
Pao may think her legal action will create opportunities and top jobs for the next generation of girls. In fields such as the one she chose, there might be more jobs if there were fewer discrimination lawsuits.
into the Swamp of Ad Hominem:
…there is a cost to remedying the problem with showcase litigation.
until finally, Ms. Shlaes hits the Rocks of Odd Conclusions:
Human-resources specialists aren’t idiots. They see how much Pao, still merely alleging, is costing a firm such as Kleiner Perkins: time, image and distraction from its main work, finding value. Other businesses will work harder to avoid a litigious hire. They will scour candidates’ resumes for similarities to Pao’s. Her husband, Alphonse Fletcher Jr., had filed lawsuits. Any job candidate with a record of suing, or with a litigious spouse, will get a cooler reception. Starting last week. In other words, some highly qualified candidates will be excluded. Will HR departments admit what they are doing? Never.
Excuse our French, but what the hell are you talking about, lady? Who lists “sued my former employer” on their resume? Is she really suggesting that HR departments will look up female candidates’ spouses to see if they’ve sued in court? And weren’t HR departments always wary of candidates they knew to be litigious? Wouldn’t it also make sense for overcautious HR departments to, like, send out some emails about how to not sexually harass people? Gender sensitivity training seems more likely than frantic HR departments running background checks on job candidates to find out if they were in the same sorority as Ellen Pao.
And what about “if there were fewer discrimination suits”? As if a VC firm is being slapped with a discrimination suit every ten minutes? Ms. Pao’s case got so much attention in part because it’s unusual. Side note: African Americans have also been pretty good at not suing VC firms, which remain white, white, white, with spots of Indian and Asian.
Ms. Shlaes seems to realize the flimsiness of her argument, couching everything in “may” and “might” and “it suggests” and “you can make the case that.” At least she stayed behind the Hedges of Spinelessness.