Google, the former home of “Don’t Be Evil,” has found itself accused of all manner of less than socially tolerant behavior of late. One of the big complaints is that the company which preaches diversity and respect to its billions of users (and censors them if they fail to live up to SJW standards) isn’t particularly sensitive in their hiring practices and equal pay policies. That already tense situation pretty much erupted into flames this week when an internal memo allegedly written by a senior software engineer (not the management, to be clear) began going viral among the employees. The as-yet-unnamed worker delivered a bit of a sermon about “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” and it went much further than simply claiming a particular bias supporting liberalism. (Though it mentions that as well.) Motherboard has the details for us.
The person who wrote the document argued that the representation gap between men and women in software engineering persists because of biological differences between the two sexes, according to public tweets from Google employees. It also said Google should not offer programs for underrepresented racial or gender minorities, according to one of the employees I spoke to.
The 10-page Google Doc document was met with derision from a large majority of employees who saw and denounced its contents, according to the employee. But Jaana Dogan, a software engineer at Google, tweeted that some people at the company at least partially agreed with the author; one of our sources said the same. While the document itself contains the thoughts of just one Google employee, the context in which they were shared—Google is currently being investigated by the Department of Labor for its gender pay gap and Silicon Valley has been repeatedly exposed as a place that discriminates against women and people of color—as well as the private and public response from its workforce are important.
Well, that was certainly disappointing. At first glance I thought it was going to be an argument against hiring quotas and a fixation on skin color, gender, religion or any other demographic pigeonholes rather than qualifications. Granted, there seems to be some of that mixed in as well, but nobody is going to take a single thing away from this “manifesto” other than the fact that you said that “biological differences between the two sexes” might be responsible for fewer women working in software development and other IT careers. If you honestly believe that something in the female brain renders them less able to code, then you’re just ignorant. If you were trying to make a statement about how women who have children tend to miss work for periods of time, that’s an incredibly ham-handed way of putting it and you deserve the outrage coming your way.
The problem is that this might have been an opportunity for Google and all of Silicon Valley to ask some politically unpopular questions and open up the floor for real answers. Are you getting the best candidates for all of the jobs you create? In a truly colorblind, 21st century world you wouldn’t even be looking at demographics when interviewing. You’d hire the best qualified and educated people with the most experience specific to the task and the best record of achievement. If they all turned out to be Jewish, Latina lesbians, so be it. That’s who you hire. If an unequal number of them wound up being white, heterosexual males and you wanted to address that issue, the place to do it would be in the education system, trying to figure out why there isn’t more diversity in the young people entering these fields.
But as I said, nobody is going to take any of that away from this episode. All they’re going to read is, “biological differences between the two sexes” and the rest of it will fade below the background noise level.
Prediction: If the guy (I’m assuming it’s a guy) who wrote this actually does get fired, his name will surface almost immediately and he will unfortunately be promoted as a hero on the right. I say “unfortunately” not because I disagree with a need for both gender and color blindness when operating a business, but because he had to “go there” in terms of suggesting that women were somehow genetically limited when working in technical fields.