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Reset summary

Ellen Pao

My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change

4.1 (15 ratings)
16 mins

Brief summary

Reset by Ellen Pao shares her personal experience as a Silicon Valley insider who fought against the tech industry's toxic culture of harassment and exclusion. It's an eye-opening memoir that sheds light on the issues of gender and diversity in the workplace.

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    Deeply ingrained sexual discrimination makes it hard for women to succeed in the workplace.

    Ellen Pao grew up believing that a good education would inevitably lead to success, and so when she graduated from Harvard Law School in 1994, she saw endless career opportunities laid out in front of her. When she began working at the well-known New York City law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore as a corporate lawyer, however, she quickly realized things weren’t going to go quite how she’d expected.

    One of the things Pao noticed was that sexual discrimination had become so deeply rooted in the workplace that it often happened without anyone noticing it, sometimes not even the person on the receiving end.

    A coworker who was black and female was constantly mistaken for an administrative assistant or a paralegal, despite being dressed in suits donned only by attorneys. Furthermore, even though as a lawyer she had the authority to use company cars, Pao’s coworker faced difficulties in doing so.

    At the time, Pao’s coworker didn’t think too much about it, and thus never reported what happened. Ultimately, however, she was so distressed by these experiences that she ended up leaving the profession entirely.

    The case of Pao’s coworker serves as a reminder of how it’s nearly impossible to ascend the corporate ladder if you’re not one of “the boys,” despite your hardest efforts.

    Pao relates a time when the head of her department invited 12 male coworkers to dinner, following it up with a visit to a strip club. Pao pointed out that going to the strip club allowed the male coworkers an opportunity to get to know their boss on a more personal level, which is a massive advantage.

    These men-only events happened all the time. Pao managed to get a ticket to a hockey game once, but she was only allowed to come if she didn’t sit beside the senior partner.

    Such behaviors excluded women from important conversations and opportunities, and as a result, they had to double their efforts just to keep pace with their male counterparts.

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    What is Reset about?

    In Reset (2017), Ellen Pao recounts the story of her legal battle against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers for discrimination. Her high-profile case caused waves in Silicon Valley, and the bravery and honesty she displayed inspired many women all over the world to share their own experiences, furthering the fight for equality.

    Reset Review

    Reset (2017) by Ellen Pao is a thought-provoking memoir that sheds light on the challenges faced by women in Silicon Valley and the tech industry. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Raw and honest, Pao's personal account of her experiences in a male-dominated industry gives readers a rare and unfiltered glimpse into the realities of workplace discrimination.
    • With its insightful analysis of systemic sexism and inequality, the book not only educates but also inspires readers to advocate for change.
    • Through Pao's courageous storytelling, the book captures the emotions and complexities of her journey, making it engaging and far from boring.

    Best quote from Reset

    Taking your seat at the table doesnt work so well, I thought, when no one wants you there and when you are so vastly outnumbered.

    —Ellen Pao
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    Who should read Reset?

    • Women who have experienced sexual harassment at work
    • Managers who want to ensure their workplace is free from discrimination
    • Anyone interested in powerful women bringing about change in the world

    About the Author

    Ellen Pao currently works as an investment banker at Kapor Capital and is a co-founder of the non-profit Project Include. Her first and only book, Reset (2017), garnered her worldwide recognition and was shortlisted for the 2017 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year award.

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    Reset FAQs 

    What is the main message of Reset?

    The main message of Reset is to address the pervasive gender inequality in the tech industry.

    How long does it take to read Reset?

    The reading time for Reset varies, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Reset a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Reset is worth reading to gain insights into the challenges faced by women in the tech industry and steps towards creating a more inclusive culture.

    Who is the author of Reset?

    Ellen Pao is the author of Reset.

    What to read after Reset?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Reset, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Person You Mean to Be by Dolly Chugh
    • Difference Makers by Nicky Howe and Alicia Curtis
    • The Greater Freedom by Alya Mooro
    • Building an Inclusive Organization by Stephen Frost and Raafi-Karim Alidina
    • She/He/They/Me by Robyn Ryle
    • Inclusion on Purpose by Ruchika Tulshyan
    • The Pursuit of Excellence by Ryan Hawk
    • The Six Disciplines of Strategic Thinking by Michael D. Watkins
    • Beat Gender Bias by Karen Morley
    • Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell