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That Google memo


In the last few days there has been considerable debate outside the NZ bubble on issues of sexism in the tech industry, especially in the USA.

Here is the link to the document

There has been a lot of media comment on this.

Two of the articles are, this one from David Brooks in the NY Times.

In his memo, Damore cites a series of studies, making the case, for example, that men tend to be more interested in things and women more interested in people. (Interest is not the same as ability.) Several scientists in the field have backed up his summary of the data. “Despite how it’s been portrayed, the memo was fair and factually accurate,” Debra Soh wrote in The Globe and Mail in Toronto.

and this one from Ezra Klein at Vox

The memo — if the document is even official enough to be called a memo — is an attack on Google’s diversity programs posted on an internal message board by a then-midlevel engineer. It does not mount a persuasive argument for its thesis. It was not written by someone with significant power at Google. It is not part of a debate the company is trying to hold, nor is it being considered as part of an effort to revamp Google’s hiring policies. Its author was swiftly fired. If this same document had been written at McDonald’s, or Staples, or Safeway, with the same outcome for the author, few would care. So why has this story caught such fire?

Behind the furor over the memo is our unease with the unaccountable, opaque power Google in particular, and Silicon Valley in general, wields over our lives. If Google — and the tech world more generally — is sexist, or in the grips of a totalitarian cult of political correctness, or a secret hotbed of alt-right reactionaries, the consequences would be profound.

Both these articles are worth reading. There is a plethora of views out there. As expected there are the activists on each side, but the issue is not necessarily as simple as some seek to spin it.


  1. 13/08/2017 12:06

    The issue is incredibly simple.

    James Damore wrote and circulated an email that was demeaning to every woman who worked at Google.

    He did that during the time his employer was paying him to work on its behalf.

    He circulated it using an email list that belonged to his employer.

    He used “sciency” language to try to cover up hist hatred for women in particular, and diversity in general. “Evolutionary psychology” is a theory in search of a fact.

    Combined, his actions led to a decline in workplace harmony and productivity, and Google had no choice other than to let him go.


    • adamsmith1922 permalink*
      14/08/2017 07:51

      Thank you for your comment.

      I am not sure what I think about this at all. I worked in tech for some years. In my company we tried very hard to treat all equally. Many of my peers were female.

      I suspect we all see this issue through the prisms of our own experience and world views.

      Thank you again for your comment.


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