Some acts of sexism are almost comically obvious — getting catcalled or told to get back in the kitchen, for example — while other times, they can be as subtle and seemingly throwaway as an offhanded comment about your appearance. The problem with the latter is they’re much harder to prove, especially in court. Just ask Ellen Pao, who on Wednesday was ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to a multi-billion-dollar venture-capital firm after unsuccessfully suing for discrimination.
Kleiner Perkins, Pao’s former employer, initially sought $973,000 to cover the legal costs of Pao’s suit, but a judge decided that was a little high. Instead, Pao has been ordered to pay $276,000 to the firm, a monetary punishment for being unable to legally prove that everyday sexism exists.
In an ironic twist, Pao is now the CEO of Reddit, a social network not exactly known for its kind attitudes toward women. But perhaps there she’ll be able to accomplish what her lawsuit against Kleiner attempted to: subtly highlight sexism from the inside out.