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An internal memo written by a Google engineer has sparked controversy after going internally viral and being leaked to the media. The document argues the company’s left-leaning workplace culture ignores biological differences between the sexes that could explain the under-representation of women in tech and leadership roles.
First reported by Motherboard and then obtained by Gizmodo, the 10-page document sets out the author’s personal opinion on Google’s current diversity initiatives, calling them discriminatory. He states that he strongly believes in gender and racial diversity, but that we should “stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism.”
“The distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership,” he writes.
Given these biological causes, he concludes that “discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive, and bad for business,” adding that it’s “as misguided and biased as mandating increases for women’s representation in the homeless, work-related and violent deaths, prisons, and school dropouts.”
To back up his viewpoint, the engineer provides a list of what he refers to as possible “non-bias” causes for the underrepresentation of women in the industry, including women’s natural disposition toward neuroticism and men’s higher drive for status.
In the memo, the engineer argues that Google’s political bias creates an environment in which opinions like his cannot be expressed.
Reportedly, the document went viral within the company and sparked angry responses from coworkers. Following the internal commotion, Google’s recently appointed VP of diversity, integrity & governance, Danielle Brown, issued a statement in response. “Like many of you, I found that [the document] advanced incorrect assumptions about gender,” she wrote.
She added that those with different views should feel safe to share their opinions, but that this still needed to happen alongside the company’s principles of equal employment and anti-discrimination laws.
The memo’s author has added his own reply to the public response, stating that he’s received “many personal messages from fellow Googlers expressing their gratitude for bringing up these very important issues which they agree with but would never have the courage to say or defend because of our shaming culture and the possibility of being fired.”
[Update 9 August 2017]: According to media reports, Google has fired the author of the memo who has been identified as James Damore. He confirmed his dismissal in an email to Bloomberg, stating he is “currently exploring all possible legal remedies.”
While Google has not commented on the dismissal, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has expressed his disapproval of the way the company has handled the situation. In a public post on Twitter, he wrote “Censorship is for losers” and offered Damore a job. In a second tweet, Assange added: “Women & men deserve respect. That includes not firing them for politely expressing ideas but rather arguing back.”
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