When a jury in ultra-liberal San Francisco, where almost everybody can be a victim of some kind, votes against awarding $16 million in a gender discrimination suit against a venture capital firm, you have to conclude that the plaintiff had a pretty weak case.  

The plaintiff is Ellen Pao, new feminist poster woman for expensive litigation on trumped up accusations of gender bias.  Pao had led a charmed life as the protégé of a Silicon Valley venture capital giant until bad reviews from other senior partners—who, among other things, found the entitled Ms.Pao exceedingly difficult to work with—slowed her march to the top.

Pao’s story, as recounted this morning in the Wall Street Journal, is fascinating: John Doerr, a powerful senior partner with the venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, apparently saw potential in her and in part because of his support, Pao, who would recall that Doerr treated her “like a daughter,” moved up with remarkable rapidity.

When Pao was promoted to the direct-investing track, however, other senior partners didn’t share Doerr’s enthusiasm for her. Her reviews from them were so bad that many believed that there was no place for Pao at the firm. Doerr was the only senior partner in her corner by 2011.

In the good old days, confronted with bad reviews, an employee tried to find ways to work better with others, improve performance, or seek a more congenial atmosphere at another firm.

Instead of doing any of these things, Ms. Pao filed suit against the firm May 2012. She alleged that a colleague with whom she had had an affair was trying to get even with her by making her work life difficult. 

Several months after Pao filed the suit she was let go, the company said because of downsizing. Her severance package included $33,333 a month for six months, plus a bonus and health benefits. Upon being let go, Pao amended the suit to supposedly blow the whistle on what she said was the firm's policy of discrimination against women.

We don't deny that discrimination sometimes exists, but to buy Pao's claim, you would have to be well-grounded in greivance theory. In a piece entitled “Meritocracies Care about Profits, Not Gender,” Heather Mac Donald explains why:

Kleiner Perkins had devoted considerable time and resources to developing Ms. Pao’s potential. The idea that the firm was simultaneously thwarting her because of her gender and forfeiting its own investment in her is absurd.

Even leaving aside market pressures, the claim that any high-profile company today would discriminate against highly qualified females defies political reality. Every elite business is desperate to hire and promote as many women as it can to fend off the gender lobby. Women who deny that their sex is an employment asset are fooling themselves.

But in a sign of how irrational Ms. Pao’s view of the world is, she has now positioned herself as a martyr for Silicon Valley’s allegedly oppressed Asians as well as its females. “If I’ve helped to level the playing field for women and minorities in venture capital, then the battle was worth it,” she said after her courtroom defeat. Never mind that Asians are overrepresented in Silicon Valley and at Kleiner Perkins, compared with the national population, thanks to their talents, not least in science and engineering.

Most men don’t make senior partner at Kleiner Perkins. In three decades only five junior partners out of 24 have been promoted to senior rank. Those disappointed males don’t file discrimination suits, they suck it up and go on to other jobs.

Too many females, however, have been taught to see themselves as perpetual victims of the patriarchy. The scant evidence that Ms. Pao assembled to prove that her advancement was blocked because of her gender reeks of the trendy academic theory of “microaggression”—a word that refers to racism and sexism that is otherwise invisible to the naked eye.

In the end, even Mr. Doerr was forced to admit that his former protégé had a “female chip on her shoulder.”

But we should not be surprised if the adverse decision of the jury has absolutely no impact on feminist claims that businesses would rather discriminate against them than make a profit. Referring to the attack of common sense that hit the San Francisco jury, Mac Donald writes:

This triumph of common sense, though, represents merely a minor setbackin the feminist crusade against America’s most vibrant economic sector. The chance that Silicon Valley can preserve its ruthlessly meritocratic culture under a continuing feminist onslaught is slim.