Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Google Fires Engineer Who Wrote Memo Questioning Women in Tech

quote [ The employee, who confirmed his firing, argued in the memo that the gender gap among high-tech employees was due in part to biological differences. ]

He also thinks he has a legal case for the firing.

Article in extended.


SAN FRANCISCO — Google on Monday fired a software engineer who wrote an internal memo that questioned the company’s diversity efforts and argued that the low number of women in technical positions was a result of biological differences instead of discrimination.

The memo, called “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” angered many in Silicon Valley because it relied on certain gender stereotypes — like the notion that women are less interested in high-stress jobs because they are more anxious — to rationalize the gender gap in the tech industry. The memo quickly spread outside the company, as other Google employees railed against many of its assumptions.

In a companywide email, Google’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, said portions of the memo had violated the company’s code of conduct and crossed the line “by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”

The memo put the company in a bind. On one hand, Google has long promoted a culture of openness, with employees allowed to question senior executives and even mock its strategy in internal forums. However, Google, like many other technology firms, is dealing with criticism that it has not done enough to hire and promote women and minorities.

One female Google engineer posted on Twitter upon reading the memo that she would consider leaving the company unless the human resources department took action.

In an email titled “Our Words Matter,” Mr. Pichai said that he supported the right of employees to express themselves but that the memo had gone too far.

“The memo has clearly impacted our co-workers, some of whom are hurting and feel judged based on their gender,” Mr. Pichai wrote. “Our co-workers shouldn’t have to worry that each time they open their mouths to speak in a meeting, they have to prove that they are not like the memo states, being ‘agreeable’ rather than ‘assertive,’ showing a ‘lower stress tolerance,’ or being ‘neurotic.’”

James Damore, the software engineer who wrote the original memo, confirmed in an email to The New York Times that he had been fired. Mr. Damore had worked at Google since 2013. He said in his memo that he had written it in the hope of having an “honest discussion” about how the company had an intolerance for ideologies that do not fit into what he believed were its left-leaning biases.

Mr. Damore, who worked on infrastructure for Google’s search product, said he believed that the company’s actions were illegal and that he would “likely be pursuing legal action.”

“I have a legal right to express my concerns about the terms and conditions of my working environment and to bring up potentially illegal behavior, which is what my document does,” Mr. Damore said.

Mr. Pichai’s memo was reported earlier by Recode, and Bloomberg confirmed Mr. Damore’s dismissal.

Before being fired, Mr. Damore said, he had submitted a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board claiming that Google’s upper management was “misrepresenting and shaming me in order to silence my complaints.” He added that it was “illegal to retaliate” against an N.L.R.B. charge.

Mr. Pichai said he would be cutting short a family vacation to return to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., to deal with the matter. He said the company intended to hold an all-hands meeting to discuss the issue on Thursday.
[SFW] [business] [+8 Good]
[by damnit@3:45pmGMT]


conception said @ 4:02pm GMT on 8th Aug [Score:5 Funny]
He also thinks he had a scientific case for his quite unscientific ideals.
whitepower1488 said @ 12:10am GMT on 12th Aug [Score:-2]
filtered comment under your threshold
yevishere said @ 3:08pm GMT on 9th Aug [Score:2 Underrated]
I strongly encourage people to read the memo in full.
It is being misrepresented by almost every media outlet.
damnit said @ 4:08pm GMT on 9th Aug
"Differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don't have 50 percent representation of women in tech and leadership. Discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive, and bad for business."

"Left Biases: Compassion for the weak, Disparities are due to injustices, Humans are inherently cooperative, Change is good (unstable), Open, Idealist. Right Biases: Respect for the strong/authority, Disparities are natural and just, Humans are inherently competitive, Change is dangerous (stable), Closed, Pragmatic."

"On average, men and women biologically differ in many ways. These differences aren't just socially constructed because: They're universal across human cultures, they often have clear biological causes and links to prenatal testosterone, biological males that were castrated at birth and raised as females often still identify and act like males."

"I'm simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don't see equal representation of women in tech and leadership."

"Women, on average, have more: Neuroticism (higher anxiety, lower stress tolerance). This may contribute to the higher levels of anxiety women report on Googlegeist and to the lower number of women in high stress jobs."

"We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism."

"Women on average show a higher interest in people and men in things."

"Women on average look for more work-life balance while men have a higher drive for status on average. Unfortunately, as long as tech and leadership remain high status, lucrative careers, men may disproportionately want to be in them. Allowing and truly endorsing (as part of our culture) part time work though can keep more women in tech."

"I strongly believe in gender and racial diversity, and I think we should strive for more. However, to achieve a more equal gender and race representation, Google has created several discriminatory practices: Programs, mentoring, and classes only for people with a certain gender or race, a high priority queue and special treatment for 'diversity' candidates, hiring practices which can effectively lower the bar for 'diversity' candidates by decreasing the false negative rate."

"We're told by senior leadership that what we're doing is both the morally and economically correct thing to do, but without evidence this is just veiled left ideology that can irreparably harm Google."

"My concrete suggestions are to: De-moralize diversity. As soon as we start to moralize an issue, we stop thinking about it in terms of costs and benefits, dismiss anyone that disagrees as immoral, and harshly punish those we see as villains to protect the 'victims.'"

"Be open about the science of human nature. Once we acknowledge that not all differences are socially constructed or due to discrimination, we open our eyes to a more accurate view of the human condition which is necessary if we actually want to solve problems."
whitepower1488 said @ 12:07am GMT on 12th Aug
That monster is literally the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler. And I should know.
mechavolt said @ 4:24pm GMT on 8th Aug
Do you think that your work environment is stifling differing opinions? Then say that and stop there. It's all this extra nonsense about how women are biologically inferior to men that crosses the line and violates the code of conduct. Save that shit for your bigoted private life.
Dienes said @ 4:30pm GMT on 8th Aug
"The problem is you're pushing the (grossly inaccurate, hostile, and bigoted) opinion that women are inherently mentally ill and stupid, and shouldn't work here."
"No, the problem is my opinion is being stifled!"
"What opinion is that?"
"That women are inherently mentally ill and stupid, and shouldn't work here."
whitepower1488 said @ 12:17am GMT on 12th Aug [Score:-2 Troll]
filtered comment under your threshold
norok said[3] @ 8:12pm GMT on 8th Aug
In the event that you run across a very gifted coder that happens to be female then this sort of idea might be offensive to her. Chances are she wouldn't care because she shares that geek elitism against scrubs that can't cut it and is tired of the affirmative action hires that put her into question. But anyone that automatically dismisses everything he said as completely untrue has never worked in the tech industry.
rylex said @ 8:24pm GMT on 8th Aug
just for the record, your job in the tech industry was what again??
norok said[2] @ 8:29pm GMT on 8th Aug
Infrastructure engineer. About 100 employees. Got a good experience of female engineers. 1 was the owner's wife, 2 lasted less than a year, 1 worked hard and never took her headphones off (i.e, was great), and 1 was a whirlpool of emotion that sucked in attention from the guys there and spat out drama. So 5% chose the field and 20% of those were actually good. That's why even tho this guy's treatise may be an anathema to Leftist thought... he's not off the mark. Taking flak just means you're getting close to the target.
mechavolt said @ 8:38pm GMT on 8th Aug
Anecdotal evidence is anecdotal. In my 12 years of having people work for me, I've had just as many issues with my female employees as male employees, and I work in an applied scientific field. And as long as we're using anecdotes, in my own personal experience, I've found bigots are far more problematic employees.
rylex said[1] @ 8:58pm GMT on 8th Aug
you aren't actually giving grades on the quality of their work, just giving grades based off your sexist paradigm of thought.
damnit said[1] @ 11:30pm GMT on 8th Aug
2 lasted less than a year

Cause they were probably underpaid and jumped ship.

1 worked hard and never took her headphones off (i.e, was great)

So not chatty... how nice

1 was a whirpool of emotion that sucked in attention from the guys there and spat out drama.

There's a lot of drama from these backbiting remarks if you don't mind me saying lol

A century ago, women consistently scored lower on IQ tests than men. Then we started formally educating women. They entered the workforce, college, etc. Their IQs shot up. They are now consistently slightly higher than men's IQ scores.
norok said @ 11:38pm GMT on 8th Aug
Was trying to be curt and to the point. No one really wants to accept "lived experiences" from a white dude anyway if they disagree with the equalist message.

At no point did the author of the piece insinuate women were any less intelligent. It sounds like someone else just skipped reading it because of the meta-analysis poisoning the well. Men and women make different choices in line with their gender. That shouldn't be such a controversial observation.
DreamJournalingFS said @ 12:02am GMT on 10th Aug
"Then say that and stop there."

Completely agreed.
If Damore had expressed his opinions about diversity and the corporate culture at Google through more appropriate channels (to his direct supervisor or the Human Resources department) then I think he would still be employed.
A company-wide memo expressing strong opinions about long-standing company policy on a sensitive topic is a pretty reliable way to get fired.
Dienes said @ 4:24pm GMT on 8th Aug
PUA/Incel/MRA poster child, this one.

whitepower1488 said @ 12:19am GMT on 12th Aug [Score:-2 Troll]
filtered comment under your threshold
Hugh E. said @ 4:46pm GMT on 8th Aug
The important thing is that he's started a discussion about whether he has a legal case for the firing.
damnit said[3] @ 4:50pm GMT on 8th Aug [Score:1 Underrated]
He doesn't.

Unless he has an airtight contract that Google breached, chances are Google can sever ties with him for any reason whatsoever.

People always seem to confuse freedom of speech as protection from criticism and consequences from non-government people for their speech.
Hugh E. said @ 5:50pm GMT on 8th Aug [Score:1 Funny]
Just to be clear, that was the joke.
As in the "discussion" of his grounds to sue is on par with the "discussion" (that many are saying is all the memo was trying to do) of whether girl cooties interfere with programming.
rylex said @ 6:35pm GMT on 8th Aug
girls code weird! 😝
cb361 said @ 7:06pm GMT on 8th Aug
They put pictures of stars and unicorns in their loops!
Bruceski said @ 7:46pm GMT on 8th Aug
And the pink font is difficult to read.
Bruceski said @ 7:46pm GMT on 8th Aug
Their code just stops working for a few days every month.
rylex said @ 8:14pm GMT on 8th Aug
you mean their programs contain memory leaks during certain periods of the month?
SnappyNipples said @ 5:32pm GMT on 8th Aug
The cover all excuse a company can use is employee's public opinion paints the company in a bad light.
Taxman said @ 2:22am GMT on 9th Aug
"People always seem to confuse freedom of speech as protection from criticism and consequences from non-government people for their speech."

THIS. A million times this.
SnappyNipples said @ 5:31pm GMT on 8th Aug
I guess this asshole never read up on Ada Lovelace.
Hugh E. said @ 6:00pm GMT on 8th Aug
Charles Babbage's secretary?
SnappyNipples said @ 7:07pm GMT on 8th Aug
I think the correct term was Coffee Wench.
mechanical contrivance said @ 8:39pm GMT on 8th Aug
Back then they were Whiskey Wenches. Oh, those were the days...
whitepower1488 said @ 12:23am GMT on 12th Aug [Score:-2 Troll]
filtered comment under your threshold
Ussmak said @ 6:47pm GMT on 8th Aug
There was a time when guys like this were just publicly ridiculed and then allowed to quietly slink back to their miserable job where they were simply ignored.

Now people have become so petty and vindictive that anything LESS than public execution is deemed a mercy.

It's even more disturbing when you realize that most of you people are rabid over what is essentially a thought-crime.
rylex said[1] @ 7:25pm GMT on 8th Aug
Times change. People in the past were pretty complacent about having racist and sexist work places and practices.

We here in the 21st century decided to progress forward for a reason.

This is not a thought crime either. He is not being persecuted for his thoughts. He is still free and able to speak them. He is facing repercussion for his thoughts, and this is what most right wingers dont get about the first amendment. That yes, you are free to say what you wish, and that power also comes with the responsibility to stand behind your words and and what actions they may bring about
Ussmak said @ 7:42pm GMT on 8th Aug
Yes, that's all well and good, but does the poor bastard have to be burned at the stake before far-leftists admit they're being a bit over-reactionary about their precious gender politics?
C18H27NO3 said @ 8:23pm GMT on 8th Aug
. . .about as much a the rightwing nut cons that get their panties in a twist over sharia law, perhaps?
Ussmak said @ 8:31pm GMT on 8th Aug
Nice strawman.
disconnect said @ 1:11am GMT on 9th Aug
Pot, kettle, etc.
foobar said @ 9:26pm GMT on 8th Aug
That women aren't inferior to men is hardly a far leftist position. You're well into Naziland if you think that's acceptable.
whitepower1488 said @ 12:21am GMT on 12th Aug [Score:-1 Troll]
filtered comment under your threshold
rylex said[1] @ 7:31pm GMT on 8th Aug
if you want an example of thought policing, take the current drink driving laws in a handful of states, lets use California for this instance.

Currently, in California, you can be arrested for DUI if police catch you under the influence in the vicinity of your vehicle with the keys on you. they claim it as intent to drive under influence. court case is handled like a regular DUI as is any conviction.
if that isn't thought policing, I dont know what is
ubie said @ 6:59pm GMT on 8th Aug
He may have a case. California laws are heavily tilted toward the employee during termination situations. At the very least I can't imagine he wouldn't qualify for unemployment benefits.
rylex said @ 7:21pm GMT on 8th Aug
he doesn't have a case.

even with a contract, he is an "at will" employee. this means he can be terminated whenever, for whatever reason.

typically, only executives are offered contracts which state otherwise.
norok said @ 8:07pm GMT on 8th Aug
Federal labour law bars even non-union employers like Google from punishing an employee for communicating with fellow employees about improving working conditions … California law prohibits employers from threatening to fire employees to get them to adopt or refrain from adopting a particular political course of action.
rylex said @ 8:12pm GMT on 8th Aug
this was hardly communication about bettering the work environment. it was a clear dissertation on someone's personal grievances.
norok said[1] @ 8:19pm GMT on 8th Aug
That's for the courts decide.

But in saying that you just gave away that you didn't actually read his treatise and are just reacting with the indignation that your bias seems to require. Nearly every introduction to each idea was prefaced with how it can improve Google.
rylex said @ 8:23pm GMT on 8th Aug
i actually read a good portion of it. but you are correct, I did not finish it. By choice I might add.

I did not agree with some of the material presented and was not going to attempt to argue any of it anywhere. So thusly I chose to end my experience.
norok said @ 8:33pm GMT on 8th Aug
Good for you. Wouldn't want your preconceived notions to be changed.
C18H27NO3 said[1] @ 9:37pm GMT on 8th Aug
sezoomj said[1] @ 12:24am GMT on 9th Aug
Of course every section was prefaced with how it can improve Google. He also included a political statement, and he filed a complaint with the NLRB. IMHO he was looking for a fight and possibly a payout.
norok said @ 8:17pm GMT on 8th Aug
A lot of this comes down to the fact that Google now looks to diversity first and technology second. No one has ever made a convincing case that diversity itself is a good thing for business. Diversity of ideas, yes. But all this is about diversity for the sake of diversity. I don't
damnit said @ 8:28pm GMT on 8th Aug
Alphabet is many. Google is just one of them. Other sectors are at the front end of tech research.
norok said @ 8:32pm GMT on 8th Aug
Still not convinced. How does a person's skin colors or sex make anything better?
damnit said @ 8:43pm GMT on 8th Aug
As opposed to a narrow-minded point of view devoid experience and background? Lots
Bruceski said @ 9:02pm GMT on 8th Aug
Diversity of ideas is vital, yes, and if everyone has the same background, everyone will have the same limited space for ideas. There is not one bubble where you're in the know or out of touch, there are an infinite number of bubbles with varying valuable ideas or destructive assumptions bouncing around inside them, and if you go out of your way to include diversity that you *do* notice, along the way you're going to pick up diversity that you *don't*.

I mean, only three years ago Apple released a health app that could track people's selenium intake but not women's periods. That's a pretty obvious case of no women being on the design team when they were discussing what would be useful things to have. Particularly in tech or startup culture (and I'm including Apple and Google in that startup culture despite them being the biggest fish in the pond because they keep pursuing new ideas and marketing) it's the ideas you don't know you've missed that can sink you.
the circus said @ 7:58am GMT on 9th Aug
I don't know that it's diversity itself that is good, so much as homogeny can be a symptom of something bad.
4321 said @ 8:21pm GMT on 10th Aug

2017/08/08: James Damore and his Google Memo on Diversity (complete)


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