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SAN FRANCISCO — A few years ago, Genomic Expression CEO Gitte Pedersen was attending an evening party on the sidelines of the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. She was talking with a well-known angel investor — whom she was also hoping to convince to invest in her RNA sequencing company.

She had met him several times in the past and had always found him to be professional.


But at the party at the upscale Clift Hotel, the angel investor was drinking and appeared intoxicated. He told a horrified Pedersen that she had a nice ass. Then he grabbed her rear end, she said. She immediately put a stop to his advances, and ushered him outside to a taxi to send him back to his hotel.

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  • Sexual hysteria. Agency versus protection. Laura Kipniss’ recent book. Centered on Title 9 but it makes a good point.

    ‘Unwanted advances’ is supposed to be funny. Mike Pence doesn’t think so. But I do. Sorry you don’t.

    • Mr. Sterzinger,
      As the father of 3 beautiful(in my opinion) daughters in their 20’s unfortunately two of the three have experienced this type of harassment.
      I have my own “Title 9”. When it happened to my oldest daughter, (in the science field) the behavior changed following a morning when he found it difficult to get to work on 4 flat tires. When it happened to my youngest, (my baby) the tires had no effect. But surprisingly, when he was awoken in house at 3 AM by his fire alarm going off due to an “accidental” fire in his living room he had a change in style. I found that…….funny.

  • Thanks for the article. But where are the tips for the men at the conference? The first two that are aimed at women could be used for men, followed by: “Treat all colleagues equally” (as Sally wrote) and “Be respectful of people’s time and mindful of your behavior and comments”. Is it really that hard?

  • Dear George,
    You wrote “OMG” seriously?
    Since this is a civilized forum i’ll not responded with the initial thoughts about you that crossed my mind. Instead i’ll simply say Sally’s response nailed it.

    • It’s an insult to the woman who came to the conference– and the session with the angel investor — specifically to raise money to fund her company. He didn’t see a CEO, only a woman. If you schedule a venture capital session, you’re at least supposed to pretend you’re interested in the company before you ask the CEO if they’re married (if they’re a woman), if they play basketball and like watermelon (if they’re black), if they eat a lot of tacos (if they look Hispanic)… you get the idea.

    • Here’s how to determine if your advance is unwanted – before you say anything to a woman that doesn’t involve work, have this internal dialogue: Would I ask a male colleague whom I’ve just met this exact same question? If the answer is no, DO NOT ask the question. Really, that’s it. Treat all colleagues equally.

    • There’s absolutely a time for making (respectful) advances.

      That time is NOT the start of a pitch to an investor. For one thing, it’s wasting time that she could otherwise spend on her business. For a second, it carries the implication that the response to her request for funding may be contingent on her sexual or marital availability. For a third, it suggests that she is there as the equivalent of a participant on The Bachelor, not as a professional business person.

      If you were pitching to an investor, would you appreciate it if the very first question was about your availability? Or would you prefer for the question to be about something actually related to your work?

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