Discussion thread: The Google fracas or anything else

August 8, 2017 • 10:15 am

I’m hellishly busy today, and posting will be very light. I will, however, put up the Five Cat Winners at about 2 pm Chicago time.. In the meantime, maybe we can try a discussion thread.

As you may have heard, a Google employee wrote a ten-page “diversity memo” that you can find here; it’s called “Google’s ideological echo chamber.” I have to say that I haven’t read a word of it, so I’m completely without any basis for an opinion. All I know is what I’ve read in this Bloomberg Reports piece, which is that the author, Google engineer James Dalmore, was just fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes”. The article says this, in part:

Earlier on Monday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent a note to employees that said portions of the memo “violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.” But he didn’t say if the company was taking action against the employee. A Google representative, asked about the dismissal, referred to Pichai’s memo.

Damore’s 10-page memorandum accused Google of silencing conservative political opinions and argued that biological differences play a role in the shortage of women in tech and leadership positions. It circulated widely inside the company and became public over the weekend, causing a furor that amplified the pressure on Google executives to take a more definitive stand.

After the controversy swelled, Danielle Brown, Google’s new vice president for diversity, integrity and governance, sent a statement to staff condemning Damore’s views and reaffirmed the company’s stance on diversity. In internal discussion boards, multiple employees said they supported firing the author, and some said they would not choose to work with him, according to postings viewed by Bloomberg News.

“We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company,” Brown said in the statement. “We’ll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul.”

The memo and surrounding debate comes as Google fends off a lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Labor alleging the company systemically discriminates against women. Google has denied the charges, arguing that it doesn’t have a gender gap in pay, but has declined to share full salary information with the government. According to the company’s most recent demographic report, 69 percent of its workforce and 80 percent of its technical staff are male.

Finally, I know from various tw**ts and Facebook posts that the memo has been both attacked for being sexist and misogynistic, and defended as simply an opinion that should have been allowed to be expressed freely without the writer being fired.

This controversy is reminiscent of Harvard President Larry Summers losing his job for expressing an opinion on biologically based differences in abilities between the sexes. But again, I have no idea what differences this memo claims to exist, nor whether it argues that the perceived differences are purely cultural, hard-wired, or a combination of both.

If you’ve read the memo (and those who express an opinion should), and read about the fracas, weigh in below. I’ve just printed it out to read this evening.

If you don’t want to talk about this, other topics are appropriate, like “What’s going to happen to Trump?” or “Are we going to war with North Korea?”

232 thoughts on “Discussion thread: The Google fracas or anything else

    1. I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to load that Quillette page since it went up – perhaps too many are trying to do the same.

  1. It’s a looong memo, but that is its only real sin. Its author was going to great, even absurd lengths to ensure that he wouldn’t be misunderstood; that he failed, is really other people’s failing. The extent to which his comments have been misrepresented is breathtaking.

    One of his central claims was, “Google is being dangerously intolerant of alternative viewpoints.” Guess what happened next.

    1. Totally agree. I think (and I know very little on this topic) that he possibly over-represented the degree to which there is consensus about how the data should be interpreted (see that brilliant Spelke and Pinker debate) but it was very measured, the tone was obviously intended to foster productive conversation and he was especially clear on the point that discrimination on the basis of gender is not acceptable.

      1. The problem is that this is a third-rail topic right now. There is no way to have a productive conversation about this in a lot of contexts, especially inside a big, famous tech company.

        1. Some solid, some less so. I haven’t completely finished it yet, but it seemed to me precariously balanced between fact and supposition, even if not a screed.

          I find the reaction much more interesting. I don’t tw**t, so I rely on others to swim that pond, but just some of the results and the parallels with the recent Dawkins bashing is extremely interesting.

          And human.

          1. Having not the time to thoroughly read it right now, I’ll defer to your esteemed opinion. And Twitter isn’t all bad, it is excellent for quickly catching up on news.

  2. I found the memo generally reasoned and comprehensive, even if some of the connections between biological gender differences and working at Google were not clear. It’s a travesty that he was fired for voicing an opinion which was not extreme or bigoted in any way, but that’s how the regressive left and corporate PR work these days, so it should be unsurprising.

    1. Even if everything he wrote was wrong and badly referenced, I still do not think he should have been fired. Probably did him a favour because who needs to work where ideas are not welcome.

        1. Why would someone who advocates for diversity of opinion want to work for a knowing dupe of the Russian intelligence apparatus?

  3. Reality cannot be sexist. Many are concerned with the appeal they think they smell in the document, not with what it says matter-of-fact, and other people also don’t care with what it says, or what appeals it might make, but that their political tribe was attacked by the other tribe. Or by the firing. It always comes down to this.

    PS: Jerry, consider getting a tablet. They got really good. You won’t ever want to go back to printing things out, ever again. You might even switch from real books to digital ones. It’s seems incredible now, but your future self is laying on a couch in Poland, enjoying the landmark 50,000 readers, and is wondering why you didn’t do it earlier.

    1. Re Tablet:
      Almost two millenia ago, the codex replaced the scroll, for very good reasons. The fashion now maybe for electronic scrolls, but note that a major academic publisher found that the sale of actual books increased markedly after the PDFs had been put on the web for free.

      1. Books are fine. It remains true that tablets started out as a gimmick for enthusiasts, but have become an excellent way to read on the web, and are superior when you travel. No more jagged letters, etc. That’s all. No religious war please. The one over toilet paper and the proper orientation is still in my bones.

        1. I don’t see the advantage of a tablet over my Mac
          Pro laptop. Due to old age and failing vision I do recommend Kindle as a superior reading platform over 10 pt type paper books and journals.

    2. I actually was talking about this engineer’s memo with a colleague this morning & I wondered instead why we don’t ask why so many men are in STEM instead of few women. Perhaps there are biases in that way too.

      FWIW I think the reason for the lack of women is complex and the reasons may vary from company to company as well as the variables within the population.

  4. I am always re-amused at the recollection of the Larry Summers affair when one of the female professors “almost swooned” (according to her) upon hearing Summers’ comments. He immediately hastened to fall on his knees with abject apology but he was departed from Harvard soon thereafter.
    What does it say about discourse in general and the microagression-sensitive howls when one innocently observes that there are differences between men and women?
    Sorry about that, folks, but it’s a fact, damnable as it might be to some.
    So sue me.

      1. What are we going to do instead? Wait until even the last bit of reason has left the debate?

        I’m glad there are heroes like this guy who dare to speak up and I feel incredibly embarassed with myself that he has to suffer such dire consequences on behalf of me and others who agree with him.

    1. No one with an ounce of common sense would stand in front of a tank in Tiananmen in today’s climate.

      No one with an ounce of common sense would nail theses on a door in today’s climate.

      No one with an ounce of common sense would leak the Pentagon Papers in today’s climate.

      No one with an ounce of common sense would climb a fence in Gdansk in today’s climate.

      No one with an ounce of common sense would register black voters in Mississippi in today’s climate.

    2. I’ve worked with people just like his person though and although I didn’t always agree with them, sometimes opposed them outright, and sometimes supported them wholeheartedly, I never objected to them being able to express their opinions because always something good came out of them, whether I was personally irritated or exhausted by their ideas or not.

    3. It’s sad to see that from a pragmatic, personal interest point of view you are absolutely right (as proven by the response to the memo). However if no-one speaks up anymore then we truly give over the future of our societies to the regressive left. Perhaps it is already too late but still, we should be proud of those people who dare to speak up and support them.

      1. Had Damore “spoken up” on his own time in his own forum and got fired I would have more sympathy. As it is, his actions seem plainly foolhardy given Google is already being hounded by the DEpartment of Labor about diversity.

    4. After listening to him, I don’t think Dalmore is naive about this. You know, naively posting a whole lot of sincere beliefs believing that when Google said they wanted open discussion they meant it. Like the stereotypical nerd, great at stats.

      I think he’s smarter than that. He knew damn well what a storm this might create, and thought about the right moment and how to play his hand. It’s not so clear where this goes, but I don’t think he’s going to spend his life as a janitor. I wish him well!

      (Larry Summers is plenty smart too, but the mood was different ten years ago, it wasn’t so obvious what would happen.)

  5. Each year my department delivers over one hundred new graduates into the tech industry, many of whom head to Silicon Valley, some to Google. I guarantee that the majority of them sympathize with this memo. We have precious few opportunities to address diversity and gender in an engineering curriculum. They enter this industry with their social views largely unchallenged. Most of them keep quiet but their beliefs certainly shape their actions and decisions as they advance to senior positions in this field.

    This Google engineer’s memo expresses latent beliefs that are ubiquitous in the tech industry. To fire the author only sends a message to suppress open discussion of that belief; it doesn’t confront it or correct it. Yesterday I read a typical response arguing that the memo’s “come, let us reason together” tone is “bullshit” when the subject matter directly impacts people in the organization. The conclusion: arguing those points about sex differences is beneath reason and people who express those thoughts should just be shown the door.

    But this is so wrong headed. It isn’t the argument that directly affects people, it’s the latent belief. That silent, covert belief will carry on unchallenged indefinitely, doing the steady harm it has always done, until liberal thinkers decide to step off their moral high horses and confront the conservative viewpoint on its own terms. I believe that these bad beliefs, so meticulously argued by conservative intellectuals, will only fall by self contradiction or by correcting false premises. This memo is practically a cry for help, its author is begging to be debunked. Why should that be such a distasteful task?

    1. When reasonable people are afraid to discuss certain ideas, the only people who will will be cranks and wingnuts. This is how you make cranks and wingnuts seem attractive to normal people who otherwise wouldn’t give them the time of day. It’s a dangerous road to go down.

    2. In reply to cjwinstead, you wrote, “We have precious few opportunities to address diversity and gender in an engineering curriculum.”

      All the more reason to make sure that you have a diverse population of students who have the opportunity to spend 4 or more years working together and learning to appreciate each others strengths and differences. Diversity is not something you treat in a workshop or two; it is something you live. You do your students a disservice if you are not providing them a varied cohort.

      I would argue that you had countless opportunities – every day in every classroom, lecture and laboratory to address diversity. How did you use those opportunities?

      1. You “would argue that [I] had countless opportunities.” You would argue this from nowhere, based on nothing. You know zilch about my program, its geography and social constraints, its efforts on diversity, its successes and frustrations, or who I even am. I’ve been in my position twelve years, and from day one diversity discussions have been front and center in administrative meetings and on an endlessly repeating loop. In my research lab I have maintained one of the most balanced and diverse engineering research programs you’ll find. I’ve been selected as a peer reviewer on multiple federal diversity grant programs, but frankly those experiences left me disappointed in the range of practicable ideas out there. I’ve kept a 50/50 gender balance in my doctoral group, and it hasn’t been hard to do that. I’ve enjoyed a fountain of talent from black and hispanic grad students, and I haven’t had to do anything to attract them other than keep an open door. But when it comes to the undergrad and professional masters’ programs, no, I do not have “countless opportunities every day in every classroom.” The undergrads come from regional high schools. Most of them have the same race, the same religion, the same hair/eye color, probably even the same great grandfather. I may have 40 to 80 students in a class. My individual interactions with them are limited and focused on highly technical subjects. When am I supposed to fire up my pipe, sit on a log and have a long chat about social justice? I appreciate that you’re excited to educate me, but there’s hardly a day goes by that I don’t hear from another new voice, eager to give me yet another rehash of Diversity 101, as though I hadn’t already been working on that for a damn decade plus.

        1. Do you balance your team for height? Eye colour? Religion?

          I just don’t see the point in putting any focus on these things or other arbitrary attributes like sex or race.

          1. I don’t “balance” my team at all. I recruit the top students from my courses, and the top students are typically not white males. The only time I’ve been expressly asked to do affirmative “balancing” was for the benefit of white males in a program where they were badly under-represented and under-competitive. The social baggage associated with race and gender may be arbitrary but it’s real, and we do need to contemplate ways to address it constructively.

          2. That’s the thing! Either you think that there’s no difference and the sexes and races are interchangeable. In which case balancing diversity seems like an arbitrary task.
            Or you think that there are differences, between the sexes and races in which case it makes sense to have a balanced team with different races and sexes as to have different viewpoints.
            But if the latter is true, than you would expect different interests in certain jobs as well. So balancing every job or function 50/50 makes no sense.

            The money and the science is on the latter, by the way.

  6. I read about 2/3 of it before I gave up. Not controversial IMHO.

    Men and women think *differently*. That’s simply undeniable, and women I’ve talked to over the last 25 years agree.

    There is an extremely smart, hard working woman in my extended family who simply made the choice not to climb the greasy pole, so she could have a normal family life. I agree with her and did not try to climb that pole myself. It’s my observation that men are more likely than women to put in 18-20 hour days, take work home, work weekends than women are.

    Wether my observation is correct or not isn’t the point though. People should be alowed to work crazy hours or not without busybodies gainsaying them. And eminently reasonable people like Damore should be able to say stuff like this without being ostracised.

    1. I wouldn’t say generally men and women think differently but that perhaps a large percentage of men and women think in different ways from one another. Picky I know, but some people interpret such things in such generalities that they lazily just think that men can do x only and women can do y only. As a woman in IT, I think in very much the same way as my male counterparts when it comes to work, logic and even outside interests. I’m also just as hard working, just as competitive and just as tough.

      Do men and women behave differently in office environments – sometimes. Who do I want to work with or for – I have no preference as long as they are open minded, smart, skilled, and respect my autonomy.

      1. The argument is that general trends of preference will lead more men or more women into a specific field. But it should be expected that most people within a particular field will be more similar to each other than the general population.

        And of course the ultimate point is that trends are not destiny. That’s the idea espoused by racist, right-leaning identity politics, but the solution is not left-leaning identity politics, but individualism. Acknowledging trends is no problem for the individualist because group trends do not control the fate of individuals. And nobody deserves to be shamed either for bucking the trend OR for conforming to it.

        1. Exactly. Also acknowledging that there are more male geniuses (and idiots) due to the nature of IQ distribution by sex doesn’t mean that men or women CAN’T or shouldn’t be allowed to be in any field. We should however, expect something other than 50/50 in MOST fields. Our brains are different. Our skills are different on average (spatial reasoning vs language, among others) and anyone who thinks 50/50 is a reasonable goal has thrown biology out of the window altogether.

          I don’t know what the “correct” ratio is, but to force an arbitrary ratio (50/50) for ANY field I think is not a worthwhile goal.

      2. One constant misunderstanding that seems to riddle the naysayers’ arguments is the confusion between interests and abilities. You mentioned the ability of women to work as hard or smart as men which is absolutely true, but one of the points he and the commenter above raised was whether women on average are as *interested* in doing this. Early childhood studies seem to show that women and men have different interests, and one plea in arguments like these is to not impose your own preferences on either gender.

        1. Perhaps women are not interested in STEM work but is that because of their biology or their upbringing. As a child, I quickly noticed that my female friends were treated with low expectations. They were girls so they were not chastized for making silly mistakes like paying too much money for something or not knowing how to perform a mechanical task. Their brothers were held up to much higher standards and chastized for the same mistakes. I was treated like their brothers. Interestingly, I am in a STEM field with all those brothers.

          1. Multiple studies show that men, on average, are more prone to systamatized thinking, less likely to emphasize personal relationships or empathetic thinking. It makes sense that they’re more likely to be interested in tech, on average.

            Studies also show that men, on average, are significantly more willing to sacrifice years of their lives solely to career, being more likely to be concerned with prestige and salary, while women, again on average, are more likely to prioritize flexible schedules, less time at work, not having to bring work home/not having to be available 24 hours a day, and not wanting to sacrifice twenty years of 80 – 100 hour work weeks to reach the top. It’s not a knock on either men or women, it’s just a matter of different priorities, and none of those priorities are objectively more important than the others. Just as you buck the trend, I am more concerned with living a happy life outside of work, and have never been willing to sacrifice my entire life to have the most successful career I could.

            None of this makes anybody better than anyone else, but it does explain a great deal about differences in jobs. The information in the first paragraph even helps explain why a field like psychology has significantly more women than men, as do pediatrics and some other highly patient-focused medical fields.

            1. I challenge this working night and day thing as necessary for success. I honestly didn’t see this in IT other than we have to because we have support and upgrades to do.

              1. Just like having a stable family or proper nutrition, working hard isn’t necessary Or a guarantee for success, but it’s certainly correlated with it.

              2. But I didn’t say that. I said working day and night. Long hours. That isn’t working heard necessarily and I would argue often it’s working inefficiently. The people I’ve seen out in long hours did so because the took long lunches and chit chatted the day away or it just took them longer to do tasks. I rarely take a lunch and I usually get more done that these long hour workers.

              3. I agree, Diana, but only to a point. When people talk about women in upper management and CEO positions, it becomes relevant.

                The other things I said are more relevant to regular jobs in tech.

              4. I still don’t buy it. I don’t believe that the women sat on their asses and the men worked and got promoted. I’ve never seen this ever.

            2. For many years, it was obvious that women sacrificing a lot in order to work nights and weekends wasn’t getting them the same rewards it was getting men who chose to do that. So that could explain some of the lack of interest on the part of women.

          2. What motivates?
            I think my motivation was a childhood incident. I was playing soccer in the street with a bunch of neighbourhood kids-all boys.
            A cop came along told us we should not be doing that and proceeded to take down names. When he came to me said ‘Oh your’re a girl. You don’t need to. I remember protesting and being laughed at. I was so pissed.

        2. A lot of this is driven by people who have no interest in STEM themselves but think the fact their gender isn’t represented enough is someone else’s fault.

          It’s never ‘I want to study STEM myself’, it’s ‘I’d rather take gender studies and then just complain there aren’t enough women in STEM’.

      3. I’ve heard people (guys, actually) say that men make better IT workers than women. I’ve never noticed that myself – IMHO women were, on average, as good as men. But they didn’t get ahead as well as men, mainly because they often stalled their careers to have kids.

        Nowadays there are more women (but not a majority) in higher level positions because they continue to work and their male partners work to enable that.

        1. THAT was the common assumption. That women are held back by having kids. I don’t really buy it i used to until I read a study out of Scandinavia that found women were held back regardless of heather they had children. Again, I think the variables are multiple in this issue as they are with all social issues and i think a lot of the conclusions drawn are more speculation than science.

  7. I read it, and it seemed shallow. The guy seems like a relatively understated conservative tech bro with a pretty rigid idea of gender roles and what qualities need to be fostered in order to cultivate your workforce and who is worth fostering to begin with. It’s just a mess. Even if you grant that the disparities in position, pay, and advancement are rooted in biology, it doesn’t follow that a company should not put resources into cultivating the group that’s lagging. The author might find a tech bro start up to be more the corporate culture that he’s looking for.

    A former Google engineer’s perspective:

    1. That Zunger guy doesn’t even address the biological points made and also seems to have suffered a temporal loss of his ability to interpret statistics while writing this piece (joining into the “he said girls are unfit to do tech” trope).

      1. His comment that damage was done because the memo might have caused people to wonder if it was true seemed like a weird overreaction too. Like he considers discussions along these lines to be thought crime.

      2. This Zunger guy’s piece also seems to me to be one of the finest examples of sinister passive-aggressive behavior that I have seen in recent times.

    2. The problem is that this piece by Yonatan Zunger misrepresents what the memo says:

      “… published internally about, essentially, how women and men are intrinsically different and we should stop trying to make it possible for women to be engineers, it’s just not worth it.”

      It doesn’t say that all men are different from all women, it goes to great pains to make clear that the distributions of traits from the two groups overlap to a huge degree.

      And it doesn’t say they should “stop trying to make it possible for women to be engineers”. It’s already possible. Nothing the memo says is about discouraging them or making it harder for them.

      All it says is that if you have equality of *opportunity* (both sexes have equal opportunity to be engineers) then you should not necessarily expect equality of *outcome* (equal numbers of both sexes being software engineers) since the distribution of traits such as *desire* to become a software engineer might be somewhat different in the two groups.

      1. Zunger even admitted on Twitter to *not having read the memo “myself,” but having read “a lot” about it.*

        1. Earlier I almost responded to Coel’s comment here, “It seems pretty evident that Zungar didn’t read the memo,” but then I figured, “why bother stating the obvious?”

    3. Another quote from that piece:

      ” if anyone wishes to provide details as to how nearly every statement about gender in that entire document is actively incorrect,¹ and flies directly in the face of all research done in the field for decades, they should go for it. But I am neither a biologist, a psychologist, nor a sociologist, so I’ll leave that to someone else.”

      But if he doesn’t think he’s competent to write the critique then how does he know that “nearly every statement about gender in that entire document is actively incorrect”?

      Some people who *are* experts in those areas have said it is largely accurate (see the Quilette piece linked up-thread).

    4. As for this quote:

      “You just put out a manifesto inside the company arguing that some large fraction of your colleagues are at root not good enough to do their jobs, …”

      … it just blatantly and wilfully misrepresents the memo.

    5. “The guy seems like a relatively understated conservative tech bro with a pretty rigid idea of gender roles . . . .”

      Could you please quote his exact words that lead to that conclusion? I see nothing in what he wrote that supports it.

      1. I think you should read the Google memo again. The author does this dance where he makes broad statements about gender difference etc, throws in disclaimer language to say he’s not really trying to sound sexist or narrow minded, and then returns with the Google is wrong stuff. His bias is crystal clear, and the reason he gives that Google should do as he says is what? People who see things like him will feel better.

        1. Could you answer Patricks question as well? What part do you take as a disclaimer? where does his bias show? He cites a lot of research, is he being selective in his citations or does his bias show in unsubstantiated opinions?

          As far as I can see it nothing supports your claim.

          And to answer *your* question: What’s the reason that Google should do as he says?
          Well, he asks for a discussion about the policy, based on scientific research that is top notch.
          That should be reason enough in itself. The reason being Science!

    6. Pretty much my take as well. A mild scolding for not having a more conservative opinion of gender like him. Got part way through the Zunger pc and then he/she lost me.

    7. I think you miss the point. The problem is disparities in pay, position and advancement are not rooted in biology they are rooted in bias.
      There may be, and I think there is,a smaller percentage of women with the same drive, competitive spirit but those who have those qualities should be treated equally. We categorise too easily and are careless with what qualities are necessary to fall into a particular category. Being masculine isn’t really a necessary quality for a person to qhalify as a well performing, creative,productive whatever, nor is being white.or whatever.
      We need to get over ourselves and as someone else said tribal attitudes, which in this day and age,with vast diversities, tribal attitudes are a mindless, unaware and self perpetuating default.
      The memo I felt was very thorough, well motivated but did not manage to cut thru the tribal attitudes of Google, well meaning as they are they have become a bit fossilized. It was a bit naive to think that it might, and I certainly think he did not deserve to be fired.

      1. Yes, that is true and corporate environments should be looked at individually for how people are promoted and what opportunities there are for mentorship. Sometimes a male advocate for a woman is met with cynical sneers and therefore it’s not done so a woman may end up without a mentor while her male counterpart may be lucky.

        Some company cultures are just vile and the worst is brought out in everyone so gender disparity is increased as part of an overall vile situation.

        1. It is a complex issue. Way back when equal opportunity was first advanced as a social, educational necessity I tutored a bunch of black kids, all boys around twelve years old. They were all very bright judging from their responses to new ideas and criticisms of the system already and general awareness of the tutoring system etc. They had been selected for the tutoring by their school teachers who felt theit classification by the school board as-choose your word- morons? was inaccurate: none of them could read or had refused to learn for whatever set of motives. So, all sorts of initiatives were very welcome to try to enablethem to feel that the world was worth wading into. Progress is slow and dependent on multiple factors. And the drawbacks of quota %s for this that and the other are also becoming apparent.
          Progress is slow.
          Or maybe the human race is just what it is and as Jerry says-we do our best.

          1. I feed. I do think it is complex and multiple variables are at play as they are in all social situations. I don’t buy “women don’t want to work long hours” just because it assumes long hours are a requirement for getting ahead in STEM. Is that really the car? Because if it were that’s super easy to fix. It may be that women don’t want to work long hours but long hours may have nothing to do with promotions in STEM

  8. I am not a sociologist or expert in this field of human behavior so would remain silent on all of that in this memo. However, that Google fired this employee does not surprise me and they certainly can do that if they want. If he really intended to have an impact on the company he works for his memo and all his concerns should have been presented to the appropriate departments in the company. Putting it out there for all to see is not the way to get things done. If anyone knows of this method working…let me know?

    The actions against Google for gender discrimination should be fully investigated by the govt. If they are guilt, then they should pay dearly. That should be fairly easy to do. As a side issue, I have read lately, articles claiming that many tech companies are high in sexual harassment. This should also be investigated where they have formal complaint and heavy penalties for any abusers.

    Regarding Trump, who knows how long before he is gone. Hopefully soon because he is nothing but negative for this country. He is also extremely corrupt on the surface and it takes no investigation to show that. He is doing great damage to many areas of our domestic society and he is a great embarrassment overseas. Reliance on so many X generals on this N. Korea thing is also very concerning. There is no military solution with N. Korea, there never has been. To think otherwise is just foolish.

    1. “If he really intended to have an impact on the company he works for his memo and all his concerns should have been presented to the appropriate departments in the company.”

      The problem is that those departments, particularly HR, are staffed by the same people who got him fired. He has very little chance of getting a fair hearing from people with those ideological commitments.

      Addressing his concerns to the wider Google community was quite possibly the only option available to him other than silencing himself.

      1. Well, I don’t buy that and it is also pretty likely that just “someone” in HR did not do the firing. As I recall it was stated that in google, there was a director of diversity and some other things. But get the memo up to whoever you think needs to get it. Throwing it out to the public is not the way to go. If you seriously think you have a beef or complaint such as this, within the company, you need to first try going the right way. I see no indication this guy did that.

        1. However, I don’t know that Google necessarily operates in this fashion. I strongly suspect that it encourages the sharing of ideas outside what was once considered normal corporate behaviour. I would not be surprised if employees are encouraged to blog about whatever ideas they have.

          1. Well, I do not know the regs and laws within google. If they have a policy that anything goes, then that would be another thing. But even if this were the case, expressing ideas or improvements in public to everyone is a little strange. When it also includes the company faults and how they need to make deep changes to company behavior, I find that a bit hard to believe. I would then start to think maybe the problem is management and poor leadership.

            1. You may find it strange, but a lot of Silicon Valley type IT companies operate in this way. I had a colleague write blogs all the time that would criticize the company and at one time chastized people for complaining about the change in benefits because older people need to pay more and people with kids should get more. Nothing happened to him but I did question why he had so much time on his hands to write such screeds when he wasn’t delivering what I needed from him on projects.

              1. I would be questioning who is really in charge at this firm. Why would you as CEO or whatever, allow one person to disrupt the entire workforce for his own pleasure. It is certainly not something I am familiar with at all.

              2. The idea is a free exchange of ideas means that a company can adapt quickly and find areas that are not working just as quickly. In the technical field, things happen rapidly and you cannot rely on hierarchical rules or long drawn out methods of extracting information to find out if something isn’t working. You need to be transparent and nimble or you will fail, even if your product is tip top, because the next company is rushing to release something even better.

                At successful IT companies, management fosters open, honest conversation and solicits ideas formally and informally regularly. It also encourages robust debate that attacks said ideas.

              3. Oh and remember – free exchange of ideas doesn’t mean you get to fight everyone continuously because your idea didn’t get selected. It means, once a decision is made, you try it out. You’re free to bitch again once it fails, but the company has to row in the same direction. IT companies are basically working like science in that manner – they are competing internally and testing if things are going to work but that isn’t the same as constantly fighting once a decision is made.

              4. So if this is really the way it works, why did this guy get fired. Too transparent?

              5. Because they didn’t like what he said. It will harm the company as people will tart to keep their idea to themselves. Again, I’m not suggesting anything goes. Where I’ve been respectful conversation was required or there would be trouble. For what I think is not the case, Google has decided to see the post as disrespectful. I think they are wrong even if I’m not sure I agree with there content of what the engineer says.

                Again, you seem to think I’m lying. So be it.

              6. Hey, lighten up, Diana. Nowhere did Randy accuse you of lying.

                You two have a difference of opinion. That doesn’t mean one of you is ‘lying’.


              7. HEY infinite, stop twisting my words. I didn’t say he accused me of lying. I said it seems he feels I’m lying. Every time I say “hey I’ve worked in IT, these environments are like this, he sneers and says he doesn’t believe me. When people do that, they are saying you’re full of shit and therefore lying.

    2. “However, that Google fired this employee does not surprise me and they certainly can do that if they want. If he really intended to have an impact on the company he works for his memo and all his concerns should have been presented to the appropriate departments in the company. Putting it out there for all to see is not the way to get things done. If anyone knows of this method working…let me know?”

      They have the right to fire him if they want, but do you think he would have been fired if he had followed the exact same course, but published a company wide memo that was the polar opposite of the one he did?

  9. His main point is that you should treat people as individuals, not just as members of a group or groups.

    He is therefore accused of perpetuating stereotypes.


  10. I simply cannot think of an occasion that would require me to circulate an unsolicited memo of that length to my colleagues. Was it penned on the clock?

    1. At my Fortune 10 employer, where I work in IT, we are encouraged to come up with proposals for improving process or the workspace, etc. On work time.

      1. That is neat. Do you find that this particular memo was aimed to be helpful in improving workplace performance? Google apparently thought not..

        1. You are special pleading. The no true Scotsman of “done on the clock” I guess.
          You don’t know if it was done on the clock and you don’t know that if it was it would have got him fired had it argued the other side.

          1. Also, Google allows its employees to spend time working on whatever projects they want. This is actually a smart way of getting productivity out of your employees as people enjoy that type of creative time (at least IT people do). I find it a harsh contrast that someone would be fired for penning an opinion like this when the company allows other unstructured creative thinking. I think I’d get my lawyers on that one if I were this person.

            1. I don’t know what lawyers can do, Google is a private company, they can hire and fire pretty much at will.

              1. Not without cause they can’t. You can fire someone without cause, but you better pay that person off enough that they won’t raise a stink and secure their signature that says they give back all compensation if they decide to sue.

                If they fire with cause, they better make sure their cause is air tight. From reading the Recode article, it seems they just didn’t like what they heard and that seemed to violate their code of conduct. I think there is a lot that can be looked into there.

              2. Almost all U.S. employees are at-will employees, so unless his contract guaranteed job security, the only reason he couldn’t be fired would be anti-discrimination laws. If the employer isn’t violating these he can be fired for any reason or no reason at all.

              3. The US doesn’t have labor laws? You can fire someone and not provide a reason for it?

              4. Thats awful. In Canada an employer can fire you for no reason within 3 months. In Ontario, you have to be given a reason after that and you must be either given warning (I think it’s 1 week per year or something) or be paid the equivalent (most employers choose the latter because who wants an annoyed employee around). In the U.K. I believe employees are given even more notice.

              5. Google is a public company.

                Can we agree that publicly listed companies with shareholders are public companies? As such they are subject to different laws than privately held companies. Google is one such.

                I don’t know that Google broke any laws. I don’t know if the guy has a case. I just think we need to be accurate about these things. It’s different for public companies and for private ones.

              6. There’s nothing different about worker’s rights or lack of them regarding speech. There’s nothing different that’s germane to this case.

              7. There might be no germane difference, but I linked an article elsewhere on this post by a lawyer arguing there might be. His argument is more detailed than yours.

              8. “There might be no germane difference, but I linked an article elsewhere on this post by a lawyer arguing there might be. His argument is more detailed than yours.”

                Yes, you did. And here’s an article that is more detailed yet, quoting a California Law Group that takes cases from workers who believe they have been unfairly dismissed for exercising free speech.

                “Generally speaking, California’s political workplace retaliation law protects employees’ right to engage in political activity outside of work. So, for example, it would probably not be illegal under Labor Code 1101 and 1102 LC for an employer to restrict the ability of employees to engage in political discussions with clients or customers while at work, or to use the position provided by their job to promote political opinions that the employer does not support.”

                Damore’s used an internal Google mailing list owned by Google to disseminate his manifesto. Google doesn’t have to pay for him to voice his opinions.

              9. I am a private business owner and that ain’t even close to being true. You can not fire people at will even at a private company. At least not if the employee knows a bit about the laws that are there to protect them.

              10. I see no reason to exclude anti-discrimination laws. Just why would they be an exception?

                The Unemployment Office can also compel an employer, including private companies, to retain or re-hire a fired employee even in cases that clearly warrant firing by nearly any reasonable standard. I’ve seen that many times. I’m not talking about armchair lawyering or opinions but actual first hand experience. Perhaps if your company has the wherewithal to retain a high end law firm and you don’t care about costs it could be worth fighting such issues and , hell, you might even win. Most businesses can’t afford to. It isn’t that big of a problem anyway. Merely an occasional nuisance and worth it if the alternative is to not have such safety nets. Especially since the employer is as likely as not to be the problem.

              11. Well, I’m excluding them because up above I said, “the only reason he couldn’t be fired would be anti-discrimination laws.” You said, “if the employee knows a bit about the laws that are there to protect them,” and when I asked what laws you’re talking about, you don’t seem to know of any. Maybe if you looked into it a bit more, you wouldn’t have as many problems. At-will employees are just that, they are employed at the will of the employer.

              12. “I don’t know what lawyers can do, Google is a private company, they can hire and fire pretty much at will.”

                You play asshole well congratulations. The above comment of yours is the one I responded to. Notice it doesn’t mention any exceptions. You’ll have to forgive me for not being perfect about refreshing web pages before commenting.

          2. I’m not special pleading, but as an employer his lack of discernment and discretion would be red flags for me.

              1. I don’t see a distortion, but in any case I am on my own time following “Da Roolz” of a website on the public internet, not sending my sophomoric views on evolutionary pyschology to fellow employees of one of the world’s largest corporations.

    2. I believe Google has an employee feedback platform similar to those mentioned in this thread and the author submitted his piece through that platform.

    3. I’m sure that somewhere in his contract it said he should use company resources to circulate a 10 page screed promoting his own ideas, violating the company code of conduct, and disrupting the workplace. Of course, that makes him a hero in some people’s eyes.

      1. I would be interested in seeing the “company code of conduct” as well as support for the claim that his long but temperate opinion piece violated it.

        1. “You might want to look up the word ‘screed’ before you regurgitate it.”

          Well, the first definition is, “a long speech or piece of writing, typically one regarded as tedious.” Sounds to me like it fits like a glove.

            1. “Dominate the web” is a bit of an overstatement, but tedious? Yes. Of course, tedious is in the eye of the beholder.

  11. In case anyone wants to brush up their German, here is a 20 minute clip about the liberal Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque that recently opened in Berlin — to considerable acclaim (because Muslims acting sensibly makes headlines these days) and of course to even more considerable death threats.

    The film shows the Islamic scholar Hamed Abdel-Samad (also under constant police protection) visiting the mosque and meeting its founder, Seyran Ateş.

    I suspect that readers of this site who don’t speak German would be able to guess the content of the discussion anyway. They observe that many Muslims complain about being associated with terrorism, but fail to distance themselves from it when they get the chance. How Ms Ateş would need to wear a burkini if she wanted to get support from the left; that many Muslims would like to visit the mosque but are too scared — and I personally don’t blame them.

    Basically just around the corner from the mosque is another mosque run by Salafists. The terrorist who drove a truck in a Berlin Christmas market last year was a regular visitor there. (I used to ride my bike past it to work. Some of the people I saw coming out of there looked extremely dangerous — violent body language and manner. I don’t frighten that easily but I found these guys really worrying.)

  12. I’ve been involved with hiring software developers for a high tech company for well over a decade now, based on my experience, the resumes that get through our recruiter’s filters the ratio of men to women is close to 5 to 1. Most technical teams in our company have a similar ratio of employees. Which to me means that hiring managers aren’t discriminating based on gender – they certainly discriminate based on applicability of experience, ability team cohesion (i.e. fit) and interviewing skills. When I work with the women that do get hired they tend to be temperamentally and intellectually very similar to the type of men that get hired. The problem (if you could call it that) is that for this type of job you are pulling from a small population of people of a particular personality type (like NT types in MBTI) of which the gender breakdown tends to favour males for reasons that I don’t know enough about to comment on. If companies are wanting to get to a 50:50 ratio based on gender alone then they will have to have policies in place that artificially bias towards females which is fine if you don’t mind taking 5 times longer to fill the role with a qualified candidate.

    my 2 cents FWIW.

  13. I don’t think the engineer should have been fired unless he leaked something he shouldn’t have to the public. Companies like Google thrive on diversity of opinion & open discussion & silencing someone is to their detriment.

    If there are other reasons for his firing then fine but if it was solely for this reason, then I think it’s misguided.

  14. This guy sounds like an Aspie, and not knowing that opining on an issue that has his boss in court would be bad for his career is only one symptom.

    If he wants to get a Ph.D. in psychology and study PET scans of male and female coders, then he can discuss his *results* in his dissertation. Publishing an opinion just just publishing an opinion.

    The First Amendment protects him from being jailed. Academic Freedom would protect him in a university. In a corporation, he has no protection at all. Nobody does. Rule #1 of employment: don’t make your employer look bad. Rule #2: don’t cause your employer extra work.

    Perhaps they should teach that at coding academies.

    1. If he wants to get a Ph.D. in psychology and study PET scans of male and female coders, then he can discuss his *results* in his dissertation. Publishing an opinion just just publishing an opinion.

      Says someone who has just diagnosed a complete stranger of having Asperger’s.

      1. That’s how I excuse people who are psychologically tone-deaf. How did he not think that this would have repercussions? It’s the kind of thing you write after you leave the job, or you leak to a journalist. I’d rather believe he’s an Aspie than believe he’s just plain stupid.

  15. When just considering the hiring qualifications, one would want to know some basic info. Such as: how many males verse females have applied. How many of each did you interview. There is some basic common sense things to look at within the company to see if favoritism is in play.

    Try this one. You are the person doing interviews for truck loaders in a large warehouse. The job is simply loading trucks mostly from conveyors. Hard and physical work. There are lots of people who cannot do this kind of work and many who at first, think they can, but do not last. If a interviewee happens to be a 50 year old woman who applied for the job and you are the interviewer, what do you do? You ask her if she has done this type of work before. If the answer is no, then explain the type of work it truly is and see what she says. Chances are she will say, it’s not for me. But if she says, I can do it, then hire her and give it a try. But as a company, don’t simply tell the HR folks, no women please. That is discrimination. And don’t say, nobody over 40, that is age discrimination.

    1. Or build a test into your hiring process like fire departments do. Can you lug that big hose while wearing heavy equipment? Then great, you get the job regardless of gender. Some women can do it while many cannot but the test is fair.

      1. Yes. My experience when I was doing this sort of thing was, there are a few females who could do the work and stuck with it. But even with these, they started looking for other jobs in the warehouse and moved when they could. On the other hand, I saw one person come to work in a dress and before the day was out, she was saying goodbye.

    2. This is the kind of thing that HR would know that the average worker wouldn’t know. If he’s not privy to that information it was just out of his arse.

      Jobs that require lifting are supposed to state in the job description that applicants should be able to lift xyz # of pounds. Presumably all the candidates would meet the qualifications.

      Some companies are starting to screen applications with the names removed. That prevents a few kinds of discrimination.

  16. On the topic of “anything else,” it’s been announced that North Korea now has the technology to miniaturize a nuclear warhead, so as to place one atop an ICBM.

  17. The company email system isn’t exactly the place to start voicing your opinion. There is zero obligation on the part of a private organization to put up with anyone disturbing workflow because they felt they needed to get their opinion off their chest. If you want to make a case for improving hiring practices to better reflect real data (and I’m not arguing that he’s actually wrong on most counts, he just pulled the “I think things are wrong, so I’m gonna blab it to my entire company” routine. I happen to be an expert on this particular faux pas having committed it several times myself and with much harsher language. Thank goodness I was working for small businesses at the time and the CEO could just hand my ass to me without actually kicking my ass out. “Putting your ideas out there for open debate” on a shared electronic medium is going to produce little more than a flame war as emotions escalate. (You know, they call that the internet, and why Prof Ceiling Cat has Da Rulez.). This is why public debates are held under controlled conditions with rules or as panels, not that this entirely quells the vitriol. You can have conversations with individual people over controversial subjects but blasting it to the mob does little but lead to disarray. Google pretty much had no choice but to fire this idiot. It’s not free speech when you use a private medium. Sorry, as much as I am FOR free speech in the public realm without limits, that’s the real limiting factor for free expression. If you worked for Chik-fil-a and decided to circulate a well reasoned atheist memo to “open the debate” tell me how quickly you would be fired. Hell, how quickly would you be fired for posting such a thing at just about any big company? The workplace is not the place for challenging ideas that don’t have anything to do with making more sales or building products.

    That’s not to say that this memo doesn’t actually bring up some good points that Coel was kind enough to post earlier on in this thread. The general tendency of women towards people oriented positions and that seeming to be the limiting factor in our current attempts to even out the tech gender ratios should be used as a strategic wedge to actually improve the current situation in tech. Tech needs people people. As a tech myself with dreadful people skills, I recognize this as a serious problem. When management comes from a pool of techs, you get managers that seem to prefer to work with the tech rather than as a team. When you get management from outside of tech, you get managers without a clue about the technologies being used and resentment by the engineers towards the clueless managers. CS needs a team leading and management track to attract more women. As services diversify and become more complicated, creating a need for specialization within a team, you need strong coordination and people skills while also having competency with the concepts of development and technology. This way you have leadership that knows how to coordinate projects while understanding bottlenecks associated with development in general, and how to properly estimate timelines and motivate engineers. This isn’t to say that this would end up being ONLY women, but it would create a more attractive career training pathway for those more interested in people over things. At my current company, we recently brought in more female talent in the upper management areas and the project coordination and agile development areas who also have coding experience and our existing 100% male engineer staff hasn’t been happier.

    Ignoring that data is only going to increase the frustration with the current female enrollment rates in tech and usually, when encountering an unknown quantity, people throw in their ideology to fill in the knowledge gap, and when that ideology also blocks any data to counter it (as ideologies do) then everyone loses and everyone is frustrated.

    1. Good comments. Being a not Tech type myself, but did have to work with lots of them in the company I worked for, I concur with the Techies being kind of difficult to work with. They are a different breed and tend to have personalities that are less than perfect.

      1. I love the patronizing male who is sure that what I’m asking him to do just is. not. possible. …. despite the fact that in the two previous organizations I worked for used the same software and their software gurus seemed to be able to make it do what the end users needed it to do. Where I work now, it’s Maleville in the tech department and they are very condescending to the women. Unfortunately the women they mainly interact with have been put on committees because they are obedient to authority and can be counted on not to have an opinion.

        Not that I’m bitter.

        ^ note the pseudonym!

    2. I think him putting his opinions out there to the company depends on the company culture and their use of media within the company. He may have blogged this memo, I’m not sure. If he did, was that common? It was common in companies I worked at.

      1. @Diana It was a Google Doc entitled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.
        How bias clouds our thinking about diversity and inclusion”

        He shared it to some Google employees via the Google internal mail system, using the Google internal mailing list. His stated intent was to start a discussion, but I don’t think his method of dissemination was at all likely to achieve THAT goal & a 3,000 word doc is not going to be read by most recipients.

        At Google there are internal bulletin boards [perhaps not called bulletin boards] & if he’d genuinely wanted a discussion he could have split his thesis up into manageable, digestible chunks & left out the combative [but probably accurate!] title.

        I speculate that he wasn’t in the Diplomatic Corps prior to Google.

        P.S. There’s all sorts of crap on the net now re Google company policies – I just read an alt-right piece about “some” Google managers keeping employee blacklists of people with the ‘wrong’ outlook. If you’re on the blacklist your performance reviews are blighted. I have no idea if it’s true, but I do know Google are in for a hard time, made worse by the ideologues inside & out. Sacking the guy was a strategic business error that’s for sure!

        This is a good article on the legal aspects if you’re interested: http://uk.businessinsider.com/james-damore-google-anti-diversity-manifesto-free-speech-2017-8

        1. I honk you’re right about the diplomacy issue. I still think firing is a bit harsh. Unless maybe there is a history with him, who knows.

    3. “The company email system isn’t exactly the place to start voicing your opinion.”

      I generally agree, but Google specifically pride themselves on having an open culture and actively encourages open discussion of dissenting views, especially ones that seek to improve the working environment. This memo squarely seems to fall in that category. At the very least they can no longer claim to support an open culture. Also, he may have a good legal case to make and accuse them of having fired him for expressing his personal political views and actually heeding their call for airing opinions which he thought would be good for the company.

        1. I would like to hear from someone at google on their actual policy. Does it work this way at the companies you are familiar with that when a person is hired – Management says. Hey, you have any problems or ideas or complaints, whatever it is – just put it on the tube and send it to everyone. I don’t buy it. If this is truly how they operate then there is no management. It is more like something Trump would have. Just get on twitter and tell them what you want.

          1. No, of course no one says that because it’s not a free for all as you suggest, but people are encouraged to use wiki’s and blogs for idea sharing and people can write their own blogs about anything. Once a C level employee accused all the employees at the company I was working at of not coming into work because the parking lot was empty. You should have seen the feedback that guy got back! People around the world gave him what for and this is a C level! This type of communication and criticism is encouraged at all levels. You are free not to believe me but I have worked in these environments and not only is this common to do over public media within the company, but the doors of executives are often open to regular employees who can walk in to discuss an idea, skipping over several people in the hierarchy to do so.

            1. Haha, I remember that parking lot comment. At least I’m pretty sure it was the same comment / company.

              1. LOL I bet it was! That was so crazy. I remember people pointing out that we had won a care pool award and that a lot of people biked to work.

      1. “he may have a good legal case to make and accuse them of having fired him for expressing his personal political views and actually heeding their call for airing opinions which he thought would be good for the company.”

        You think it would be against the law for Google to fire him for those reasons?

  18. Whether or not the issues in the manifesto have any basis in reality is irrelevant. That initiatives are taken to increase diversity should be applauded.

    Even if it could be proven that women and blacks are less suited to STEM positions, measures should be taken to prevent the industries being 99% white dudes.

    1. Okay, but what is the target? Perfect parity? How about in industries where women already outnumber men? Do we push in the opposite direction in those cases? How about in low-paying or dangerous fields? How much of our resources should we be prepared to throw at the problem if perfect gender parity just refuses to materialize despite increasing efforts?

      The choice is not between doing something and doing nothing. That is a false dilemma. But how much should be done and what exactly we’re trying to do should be open to discussion.

      1. Coding is a small part of IT work. There are so many fun things to work on. Sadly, I think most people are unaware of these find things, especially women.

        1. Ah, but then you get disparities in coders. What if coders ar 99% male? P. Puk won’t put up with that, it will have to be rectified.

    2. If only for the reason that less than 30% of their customers are white males. Knowing *what* to do is as important as knowing how to do it.

      1. I must say Speaker that I enjoy your comments on every thread you join. That’s a propos of nothing, just sayin’.

      2. As far as I know, whites are actually underrepresented at the big tech companies. Asians (including Indians) dominate, having something like 15-30x their proportion within the general population.

        1. I find IT ethnically diverse and I’ve often been the only white person in a meeting but I don’t think they typically outweigh the number of whites. At least not in NA

    3. Is this sarcasm? This reads like a caricature of the SJW position – one that is racist, sexist and unproductive for the company itself (hiring worse employees, under the “even if they are worse” clause)

      IF this isn’t sarcasm, I think we’ve highlighted the problem: diversity is strength! Diversity is STRENGTH! DIVERSITY IS STRENGTH! (no matter what the consequences)

  19. I read a couple of interesting papers a year ago or so that suggested the dearth of women in STEM was at least in part due to choices. (I’d link if I kept such things.) In any case one paper looked at people with very high math SAT scores and where they ended up post college as a function of gender. More men than women ended up in STEM fields. Then they split the data into those who also had high verbal SAT scores and those for whom verbal scores were lower. Those who scored high in both areas (male or female) were less likely to end up in STEM than those whose verbal scores were lower than their math scores. Women were more likely than men to score high in both areas. So the correlation worked either way – female or high verbal ability was inversely associated with ending up in STEM.

    Another paper followed what happened to students who entered STEM programs as freshmen but dropped out prior to graduation. A higher fraction of men dropped out of school altogether while a higher fraction of women changed majors.

  20. This is getting heavy: From The Guardian “Silicon Valley’s weapon of choice against women: shoddy science” by Angela Saini. “Support for the anonymous Google ‘manifesto’ on gender difference is reminiscent of the thinking behind the eugenics era”

  21. There are no doubt 100s of male Google employees who now know to keep their mouth shut and only express themselves anonymously, underground where they’ll seethe. Overall, this is a good thing for dialogue, for sure.

    1. Don’t be sexist. Women are just as capable of believing in biological gender differences as men are. And if women are less likely to believe in biological gender differences, it is just because they were socialized that way.

  22. Just read some additional info on the google issue and CEO Sundar Pichai said Danmore violated the firm’s code of conduct. Additionally, one former software engineer at google pointed out, what we need to re-examine is why he felt comfortable sharing this bigoted view on a companywide site. I will rest my case on this matter with this info.

    1. I’ve read his “manifesto” (my op; overly long and I disagree with some of his conclusions).

      You say you’ve rested your “case” with this matter so I don’t expect you’ll respond but I’ll just say I think you’d be hard pressed to support your claim that the manifesto was a “bigoted view”. I do not see any bigotry in it. Perhaps some of the additional info you read explains the comment.

      1. I did not say it was a bigoted view, the X software engineer said that. I was simply quoting him. I did not want to get into any of the specifics of what Danmore said. My whole point or issue was that I did not believe this type of behavior was allowed or common at google or for that matter anywhere. I think the fact that the top guy at google fired him for this conduct kind of backs up what I was saying. I am old school on this perhaps but I was in management and I did not ever see companies run in this way.

  23. A new development. Now that he is a celebrity, people have been delving into Damore’s background. He claims on his resume to have a Ph.D from Harvard, but Harvard says he has only a Master’s degree.

    That should put a crimp in his law suit.

        1. If Damore on his original application to Google stated that he had a Ph.D. rather than a Master’s degree, then he could be in hot water for mis-representing himself. One would think that Google would check his credentials, but with Damore coming from a biology background, perhaps the hiring folks at Google weren’t familiar with how long it takes to get a Ph.D. in the sciences, so they may have been fooled.
          If I saw a resume where a person said they earned a Ph.D. in 3 years, that would be a red flag to me.

  24. I’ve had a lot of good, honest, professional bosses whom I’ve trusted. And maybe I’m just jaded, but IMO Damore was an idiot. I don’t care how sincerely good and honest a boss or company is, when they tell you “tell me what you really think! No holds barred, and you won’t be punished for it”, that’s the day you watch what you say the most carefully. He honestly believed that corporate baloney? More fool him.

    I’m okay with the firing. No, I don’t want workplaces that punish conservatives or censor mainstream conservative workers. But publishing a 10-page manifesto is a bit different from telling your co-workers you like Trump’s immigration policy while everyone is discussing politics at the water cooler. Its an extreme response. Heck, publishing a 10-page liberal manifesto is likely to get you in trouble in many workplaces too, not because of its liberalness, but because “publishing a 10-page manifesto” is just plain weird.

    It doesn’t take a genius to know that religion and politics can be bad subjects to discuss at work. No always, and it depends on the co-workers or office atmosphere, but regardless of Damore’s opinions about women, the way he chose to express them and the audience he chose to target (his co-workers) seems to me to indicate poor judgment.

    1. I agree. I’ve also worked for companies where the upper management says they want feedback from us, good honest feedback. No, they don’t. They want to hear about how great the company is.
      Even when I fill out our ubiquitous employee feedback survey’s, I make certain to leave out any details that could lead them to suspect it might be coming from someone in our office (i.e., me).
      Back when I first started working, I would complain to my then husband that I was really frustrated, because the company said over and over that they wanted us to have fulfilling, satisfying careers, but then they turned around and treated employees like we were serfs. Hubby sat me down and explained – Corporations exist for one reason – to make money. Everything else is a distant second. If you want to move ahead, you have to show how your work directly makes/will make the company money. Best career advice I ever got.

      And just to add – a lot of these ‘Diversity Initiatives’ are just window dressing. They’re designed to impress the public, to making it seem like the company cares about this or that issue. It’s all smoke and mirrors. I suspect Google has all these initiatives to deflect public attention away from the Dept. of Labor investigation.

      1. Heh. The company I worked for (a large public utility) commissioned a detailed staff feedback survey from a consulting firm, probably because somebody senior had read that it was what progressive companies did. This was at a time when the general political climate was toxic to workers – downsizing and redundancies all over the place. Our top management tended to be authoritarian, well-meaning, but out of touch.

        The feedback was supposed to be anonymous, but still a few staff were so suspicious they wouldn’t fill it in.

        So, the results were due – and there was a deafening silence. For many weeks. Eventually they got the consultants to do a PR job on the survey results before they dared release them. The results were quite scathing. I think the senior management were genuinely shocked and surprised. Nobody else was.


      2. If you work at a place that behaves that way, leave. They don’t deserve your talent. I’ve been at places like that and it was soul destroying. Not all wok environments are that way and the good ones solicit honest feedback to improve.

    2. I don’t hold with calling Damore an idiot just because he behaved differently – and more admirably, in my opinion – than you would have. (Or than I would have, for that matter.)

      Firstly, as has been pointed out, while “Give us some honest feedback” is sometimes the first move in a Maoist let-a-thousand-flowers-bloom purge, it is not always. Sometimes people say it and really mean it. I’ll bet Google themselves really mean it some of the time, when it’s a non-sacred matter under discussion. Unless you work there you can’t be sure how justified Damore would have been in assuming he could get away with speaking the truth.

      Secondly, you don’t know what his priorities were. Perhaps he reasonably hoped that his comments would be taken in the correct spirit, but was willing to live with the consequences if they weren’t. Perhaps he simply wasn’t willing to live with himself if he didn’t speak the truth. Damoe is only an idiot if his primary objective was to keep his job at all costs, including any cost to his own self-respect. And maybe it was. But I wouldn’t call him an idiot any more than I’d call people an idiot for buying Vegemite. Given my desires, their behaviour is irrational; but then, I don’t assume eveyone else has my desires.

      1. Doesn’t sound like he was willing to live with the consequences, seeing how he’s now threatening to sue. And speaking the truth? Sounds more like one person’s opinion. That doesn’t make it the truth, even if you agree with it.

        1. Doesn’t sound like he was willing to live with the consequences, seeing how he’s now threatening to sue.

          Seriously? That is living with the consequences, his way. My point is that, knowing then what he knows now, his preference might still have been in favour to speak his mind rather than cower in silence. Accepting the consequences of your actions doesn’t mean refraining from legal redress in response to other people’s actions.

          And speaking the truth? Sounds more like one person’s opinion.

          I’m at a loss to see what your point is here, or could be.

          I was presenting the situation from Damore’s point of view. All we ever do when we make assertions – unless we’re lying – is to state things we believe to be the truth; or in other words, our own opinion. And of course our opinion could always be wrong.

          There is little doubt in this case, I think, that Damore’s motivation was to tell the truth – and that’s the case even if you disagree with every word he said; it’s true even if in reality he got it all wrong.

      2. Yes I think this is about right. It sounds to me like he would have been overjoyed at opening up a genuine discussion inside Google. Seems like it could have happened, who knows the probability but if they big men changed their tune all the minions would learn a new dance pretty quickly.

        It also sounds to me like he knew that the other outcome was this one, having the discussion outside, and decided he was OK with that. Very likely this path won’t maximise the size of his pension fund but people have other priorities.

        The fact that he’s suing doesn’t mean he’s unwilling to live with the consequences. Just that he’s not giving up and going home after the first round.

  25. The plot thickens. Damore says that he filed a complaint with the NLRB against Google prior to his firing and that Google fired him as retaliation. That, if true, would be illegal.

  26. My wife’s response: why should anyone doubt that men and women are different?

    My comment: we’re primates. Male and female primates behave differently. It’s ideological idiocy to try to force reality into ideology.

  27. Just to raise a heretical question: is there any objective scientific proof that’diversity’ actually produces better performance? Or is that just a postulate that is accepted by default?

    Interestingly the biological analogy is often trotted out, but the success of biological diversity is more about life and death competition, not sweet cooperation.

    1. @jay I tend to think one can’t objectively scientifically prove anything in human affairs – it’s not physics. How does one control for the multi-dimensional variables that one’s trying to weed out of the study? Just making your subjects aware of increased diversity, as a potential positive, changes the landscape of what you’re measuring. On the other hand I’m not averse to meta-studies or Pew Research polls, but I don’t class those as objectively scientific because we’re dealing with people & institutions where it’s hard to disentangle cause, effect, culture, history etc.

      I believe the biggest problem with diversity programs is the implementation & the underlying motivation of ‘management’. Such programs will likely fail in an environment that’s hostile to new ideas/change – so it takes a long time to do right & likely it will cost the company/institution in money, efficiency & staff well-being during the early stages.

      Here’s a good article from The Harvard Business Review on why diversity programs fail: https://hbr.org/2016/07/why-diversity-programs-fail


      My infant school back in ’61 had a mix of male & female teachers. Good.
      My daughter’s & grand daughter’s infant/junior schools were over 90% female staff. Bad.

      Britain is multicultural & multi-ethnic yet two schools only 3 minutes apart can be utterly different in pupil composition, exam success & quality of the environment.

      I went to two universities in the UK. The first one drew from the local area & many of the students lived at home – suffocating, insular, conformist, dull. The second one [The University of Liverpool] – I had friends from Iceland, Iran, France, posh Britain, poor Britain. I met & talked to Jews & Muslims – the first time for me that I’m aware of. I met gays & lesbians.

      I discovered diversity that way & it was good

      1. I think the biggest weakness of diversity programs is that they put the wrong priority on top. Diversity may (or may not) happen when you provide equal opportunity. Trying to fit diversity to match statistics involves a lot pushing unequal opportunity.

        My wife works for an ivy league school, and the distortion applied to get the ‘correct’ mix is appalling.

        1. @Jay – you make it seem as if that’s ALL diversity programs! There’s a great diversity in diversity programs so don’t make the mistake of writing the idea off – it’s all in the implementation & the intent [honest actors or just a smokescreen to protect against legal problems].

          Please read the link I found for you if you have the time 🙂

          1. Agreed, it’s not all diversity programs. Some are quite benign, i.e. advertising jobs in papers read by primarily minority groups. No problem with that.

            But, particularly in colleges, we have ‘extra credit’ given for fluff stuff (active in local church etc) that has nothing whatsoever to do with academic merit… and the enables them to outrank more qualified students. Notice a couple of lawsuits including one against Princeton which among other things had a native American student application pushed aside because she made absolutely no point about her ethnicity… they were looking for someone visibly ‘minority’

            Asian students with top credentials get passed over regularly for those of other groups.

      2. Have you noticed that a number of school systems that normally do much better than the US in science and math are in cultures with very little diversity?

        1. “Probably the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton, but the opening battles of all subsequent wars have been lost there”

          [The Lion and the Unicorn, George Orwell, 1941]

          You keep pushing the negatives. You keep framing diversity as a negative. I have already stated clearly that diversity programs are a good thing as long as the implementation is correct. i.e. one should not favour some groups over others on differences not to do with ability.

          You would know this if you had read the link I provided! The fact that you’re pushing examples at me of BAD PRACTISE doesn’t invalidate the concept of enabling & encouraging diversity.

          I’m in the UK & our best universities are drawing students from all over the world & the female representation increases without a quota system! These are better days than when entire Oxbridge colleges were for male scions of established families who moved in the right ‘set’ & went to the ‘right’ schools. That was the thinking that built the leaders of the British Empire [politicians, priests & military] – but it’s also the thinking that froze us & made us uncompetitive in a world shifting around us. SEE LEADING QUOTE. READ THE BLOOMING LINK OR LEAVE ME ALONE.

  28. I’ve tried to make sense of the fracas for a bit now.

    I’ve concluded that if one grants the “fire at will” principle then that was expected given the climate. I also think that Damore’s views are not “state of the art” because the state of the art is more cautious than he mentions. However, I fear that by doing the approach he did he also poisoned the well on future developments, which is counterproductive.

    Related, I am wondering a lot these days about “statistical prejudice”. A lot of things we do rely on us reasoning from a class to an individual. Sometimes we get this wrong, and the individual is harmed (think of the young male cautious drivers that pay too much for insurance, for example) to varying degrees.

    Even an individual aptitude test suffers from this: this is why people had trouble with the tests that I heard they used to do in the UK for academic vs. vocational education – what margin of error is allowed?

    No easy answers.

    This is not to say there isn’t a problem with sexism, etc. in IT, computing, engineering, etc. – because there is, though I have no idea what it is like these days generally.

  29. It doesn’t seem to occur to anyone that Google doesn’t care how well their employees perform on some standardized test that shows sex differences. Such tests are lousy indicators of success in software engineering.

    It should be no surprise that instead, they care how well their software engineers do at software engineering, and how well they integrate into the group and team efforts at Google. How productive and effective they are, in other words, is what determines what they are worth to Google.

    Damore doesn’t seem to fit in too well at Google. I think they are both better off parting ways.

  30. Slate and Salon are both blaming the entire edifice of science as a whole. Dang ol’ science. What’s it ever done for us?

  31. My elder son is interested only in computers, so he went to a computer school. In his class of 25, there is a girl. Yes, one girl. There are so few girls in the entire school that they have formed a Young Ladies club. I suppose that many “progressives” would see a problem in the situation and would suggest tossing some boys out of the school and pushing in a few girls who do not really want to be there.

Leave a Reply