Jean Elle

Anita Hill and Ellen Pao Embrace Role as Voice For Women

They were forced into an uncomfortable spotlight, and now they're embracing their roles as voices for women.

Anita Hill and Ellen Pao teamed up Thursday night at the Nourse Theater in San Francisco to deliver yet another powerful message. The pair say it is a unique moment in time, even more so now that Fox News decided to part ways with Bill O'Reilly amid a sexual harassment scandal.

They are hoping it's a moment that creates some change.

"Fox News made a decision to tolerate Bill O'Reilly's behavior and even to spend a certain amount of money to keep it quiet," Hill said.

Hill, who spoke up at a Senate Judiciary Committee more than 25 years ago about sexual harrassment during her time working for now-Justice Clarence Thomas, said the O'Reilly sexual harassment case once again shines a light on a persistent problem.

"Every individual has to fight the case as if it's a new problem," Hill said. "You've gotta have a clear record."

Pao, the venture capitalist who put Silicon Valley's culture of gender discrimination on trial, agrees while there is awareness, the response, like in the O'Reilly case, isolates women. She said the tech industry handles sexual harassment and discrimination cases a lot like Fox News, removing the victim instead of changing the culture.

"When you look at tech, it's somewhat similar, it comes from the top, and there's a lack of will power to change," said Pao, who in 2015 accused executives of sexual harassment at VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. "It is so much easier to push the women out."

Hill and Pao both are still active on the sexual harassment issue. Pao is working with small startups to establish inclusive work places. Hill is looking into how to implement changes in the college culture.

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