Top Reddit engineer quits in wake of Ellen Pao's resignation: Former CEO was placed "on a glass cliff"

The site's chief engineer stepped down after just two months on the job, citing company turmoil & discrimination

Published July 14, 2015 3:55PM (EDT)

Ellen Pao          (Reuters/Robert Galbraith)
Ellen Pao (Reuters/Robert Galbraith)

The inner turmoil at Reddit is becoming more and more public: In the wake of interim CEO Ellen Pao's resignation on Friday, yet another of the company's leaders has stepped down this week. On Monday, the company's chief engineer, Bethanye Blount, announced her resignation after just two months on the job, having "lost confidence" in the direction Reddit is taking.

Although Blount has stated her departure is not directly linked to Pao being ousted last week, she did address issues of gender discrimination within the company, as well as the abrupt firing of "Ask Me Anything" moderator Victoria Taylor earlier this month. The engineer says her decision to leave was based on doubts that she "could deliver on promises being made to the community," but that sexism likely played a role in Pao's ouster, according to Re/code:

“I feel like there are going be some big bumps on the road ahead for Reddit,” Blount said. “Along the way, there are some very aggressive implied promises being made to the community — in comments to mods, quotes from board members — and they’re going have some pretty big challenges in meeting those implied promises.”

These “implied promises” include improving tools to help subreddit moderators and addressing harassing comments and content.

Blount also said she believed Pao’s exit was an indirect consequence of gender discrimination, and that Pao had been placed on a “glass cliff.” It is a term used to describe women being set up for failure by being put in leadership roles during crises.

“Victoria wasn’t on a glass cliff. But it’s hard for me to see it any other way than Ellen was,” Blount said. However, she added that “I wouldn’t say my decision to leave was directly related to my gender.”

Reddit co-founder Steve Huffman, the company's first CEO and Pao's current replacement, denied implications that the site has a gender discrimination problem. He also indicated that Reddit plans to recruit more women for executive leadership positions.

By Jenny Kutner

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Ellen Pao Gender Discrimination Internet Culture Reddit Sexism Sexual Harassment Workplace Harassment