Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change by Ellen K. Pao

Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Length: 10:40:00
Published: September 2017

Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change by Ellen K. Pao is another autobiographical read inspired by an interview on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. In the book Pao shares her experiences in her career with sexism and marginalization of women (specifically women of color). She also walks the reader through the workplace discrimination lawsuit she brought against her former employer, Kleiner Perkins. 

My motivation for purchasing a (audiobook) copy was quite simple ... I was fed up. I am fed up, and I needed some inspiration. If you're going to read (and get anything out of) this blog post, you have to accept this as fact - Sexism and marginalization in the workplace is very real, and it's pervasive. It is not always physical and overt, but sometimes it is. Often it's subtle things like: getting left off important email chains, not being invited to meetings, being talked over when trying to present ideas, and having your ideas stolen by someone and presented as their own. These are things I knew before reading Pao's book. These are things I've experienced. I was quite surprised, yet also comforted, to know that it's happening everywhere. 

In my professional career that spans nearly 20 years, all of these things have happened to me. Early on in my career, a white male intern referred to me as a bitch because he believed I had come to work sick (and contagious, I suspect). He was fearful that my perceived illness would cause him harm and ruin his upcoming skiing trip. Later on in my career, I was shouted at by a male octogenarian who didn't like that way I was handling a project. He physically stood over me while I sat at my desk and berated me. (I chose to leave the office and do my own reset at a local Starbucks). One day, a co-worker asked what I thought the solution to police brutality was. Most recently in what I thought was friendly conversation, a co-worker decided to share information about his family and used the word nigger in a one-to-one conversation with me while in the office. I've shared some of my experiences with my dad who, at one point in his life, was a military drill sergeant. And he said to me so simply, "This is sexist, Melyssa." It made me sad that he was sad for me, but it also gave me strength that he, as a man, could acknowledge it and empower me to stand my ground. We need more men in this fight with us. Reading this book gave me more strength. 

The book is not read by Pao, but I did enjoy the narrator. Her speaking style was very smooth. I found the stories both insightful and infuriating. Pao begins with her childhood and helps the reader navigate through her career, the lawsuit, and the resulting inclusion work that she is now doing. The book is painfully truthful with rays of hope. 

My only critique is that the author focused the majority of the book on her specific industry specific - tech. However, the ideas and themes are applicable to any industry. I understand Pao was writing what she knows, but I wish the book was a little more generalized so all readers can understand, this is not just a tech/Silicon Valley problem. This is a worldwide problem. We know better, and we should do better. 

Recommendation: If you have a job - paid or volunteer, you need to read this book. My purpose for listening to this book was to find inspiration. Pao definitely offered that. If she can survive sexism in the workplace and a very public lawsuit, I can press on. I can move forward. I will persist. And I will know that I am not alone in this fight. 

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful. 


Post a Comment