Google Fires Employee Who Wrote Divisive Memo On Female Workers

MOUNTAIN VIEW (AP/CBS SF) — Silicon Valley’s efforts to promote workforce diversity haven’t yielded many results — unless you count a backlash at Google, where a male engineer blamed biological differences for the paucity of female programmers.

His widely shared memo, titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” also criticizes Google for pushing mentoring and diversity programs and for “alienating conservatives.”

Google’s just-hired head of diversity, Danielle Brown, responded with her own memo, saying that Google is “unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success.” She said change is hard and “often uncomfortable.”

Google said it has fired that engineer.

The dueling memos come as Silicon Valley grapples with accusations of sexism and discrimination. Google is also in the midst of a Department of Labor investigation into whether it pays women less than men, while Uber’s CEO recently lost his job amid accusations of widespread sexual harassment and discrimination.

Leading tech companies, including Google, Facebook and Uber, have said they are trying to improve hiring and working conditions for women. But diversity numbers are barely changing.

The Google employee memo, which gained attention online over the weekend, begins by saying that only honest discussion will address a lack of equity. But it also asserts that women “prefer jobs in social and artistic areas” while more men “may like coding because it requires systemizing.”

The memo, which was shared on the tech blog Gizmodo, attributes biological differences between men and women to the reason why “we don’t have 50% representation of women in tech and leadership.”

The employee, whose identity hasn’t been released, was described in news reports as a software engineer.

While his views were broadly and publicly criticized online, they echo the 2005 statements by then-Harvard President Lawrence Summers, who said the reason there are fewer female scientists at top universities is in part due to “innate” gender differences.

Brande Stellings, senior vice president of advisory services for Catalyst, a nonprofit advocacy group for women in the workplace, said the engineer’s viewpoints show “how ingrained, entrenched and harmful gender-based stereotypes truly are.”

“It’s much easier for some to point to ‘innate biological differences’ than to confront the unconscious biases and obstacles that get in the way of a level playing field,” Stellings wrote in an email.

Google, like other tech companies, has far fewer women than men in technology and leadership positions. Fifty-six percent of its workers are white and 35 percent are Asian, while Hispanic and Black employees make up 4 percent and 2 percent of its workforce, respectively, according to the company’s latest diversity report .

Tech companies say they are trying, by reaching out to and interviewing a broader range of job candidates, by offering coding classes, internships and mentorship programs and by holding mandatory “unconscious bias” training sessions for existing employees.

But, as the employee memo shows, not everyone at Google is happy with this.

TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Comments

One Comment

  1. That guy is going to get rich off the lawsuit.

    1. WikiLeaks has already offered him a job.

  2. In the so called tolerant Silicon Valley you are free to think and say exactly as Google, Fakebook, and Apple overlords tell you to think and speak. Opinions and words not conforming to the strict hard left totalitarian ideology will not be tolerated! So much for “the free flow of ideas.”

    The level of hypocrisy in Silicon Valley corporations is absurd. They indoctrinate their employees like monkeys to conform, to think and to act in “tolerant” ways, but then when you show any sign of disagreement or, god forbid, any sign of being a Republican or a free-thinking Conservative, your days are numbered. Once you get fired for expressing your conservative thoughts, you also get blacklisted so no other tech co will hire you. This is how “tolerance” works in the Sylicon Valley!

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