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About This Googler's Manifesto (medium.com)
302 points by bmahmood 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 354 comments



I might partially or totally disagree with the original manifest, but this reply is repulsive. I would never want to have a "senior" like this.

So much emphasis on how senior he is, how junior you have to write something so wrong. How OP's career is over. The 3rd point reads like navy seals copypasta but with HR instead.

If you don't see any other way to deal with OP's views than described in this belittling rant, than you are no more senior than he is.

And a minor nitpick about this rant's top highlight:

>Essentially, engineering is all about cooperation, collaboration, and empathy for both your colleagues and your customers.

This is a non-statement. Replace 'engineering' with science, medicine, finance, customer service, politics, retail, programming etc., and it will sound as correct.


This Zunger person is a pretty good example of a conflict-(mis)handling approach which I've seen a lot in the past years on tech-oriented social networks:

* public humiliation - check (casting doubt on the engineering skills of the individual).

* threat of violence - check ("a good number of the people you might have to work with may simply punch you in the face").

* retribution through firing - check

* speaking as a champion of all that is good, castigating the evil "outlier"

Basically trying to completely destroy the career of someone whose opinions are for different reasons unpalatable.

The author should go to a psychologist to have their anger managemnt issues threated. They think they've taken a stand, but instead they've just shown they're unfit to be in any leadership position, can't control their emotions properly and can't even make a cogent argument.


So much emphasis on how senior he is

I have trouble getting past the blatant lie in the first paragraph. And then the case he presents to support his first objection is to... not present a case at all.

By the time he gets to the digression where he advances a new and peculiar hypothesis about what engineering is all about (and where he seems to redefine empathy to mean something different from what the google memo meant), the negative impression was rather solidified.

Edit: Here is the lie:

... the manifesto a Googler ... published internally about .. 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.

(1) to imply that it is not possible for women to become engineers is an absurd claim on the face of it.

(2) Even with a less preposterous reading of what Zunger meant by "make it possible for..." the Googler did not assert anything like that in the manifesto.


On that last sentence, that's the whole point. The manifesto claims empathy for colleagues and customers is not required, but clearly it is.


> The manifesto claims empathy for colleagues and customers is not required, but clearly it is.

Can you help me understand how you reached that conclusion? Here is the relevant section of the original:

> De-emphasise empathy.

> I've heard several calls for increased empathy on diversity issues. While I strongly support trying to understand how and why people think the way they do, relying on affective empathy — feeling another's pain — causes us to focus on anecdotes, favour individuals similar to us, and harbour other irrational and dangerous biases. Being emotionally unengaged helps us better reason about the facts.


Being emotionally unengaged helps us better reason about the facts.

This is wrong. Emotions - feeling - are part of what makes teams work together well and make products work with people.

The reply linked on this post says it well:

Engineering is not the art of building devices; it’s the art of fixing problems. Devices are a means, not an end. Fixing problems means first of all understanding them — and since the whole purpose of the things we do is to fix problems in the outside world, problems involving people, that means that understanding people, and the ways in which they will interact with your system, is fundamental to every step of building a system. (This is so key that we have a bunch of entire job ladders — PM’s and UX’ers and so on — who have done nothing but specialize in those problems. But the presence of specialists doesn’t mean engineers are off the hook; far from it. Engineering leaders absolutely need to understand product deeply; it’s a core job requirement.)

Note the part I quoted above. I didn't quote this part: relying on affective empathy — feeling another's pain — causes us to focus on anecdotes, favour individuals similar to us, and harbour other irrational and dangerous biases is completely wrong. I struggle to think of a more wrong way of explaining empathy - I think it is fair to say that the author's idea of what empathy feels like is completely different to what the rest of the world thinks. For the fact biased amongst us (which I am) I'd note that there is no citation given.


> Emotions - feeling - are part of what makes teams work together well

I have never seen any group of people work together better because of emotions. Many times have I seen emotions tear groups of people apart.

I would also point out that emphasizing "empathy" as a vital skill, in and of itself, creates a hostile and discriminatory work environment. Many highly productive and valuable engineers are on the spectrum and it doesn't seem to inhibit their ability to do their jobs.


> I think it is fair to say that the author's idea of what empathy feels like is completely different to what the rest of the world thinks

I think you misunderstand what he is getting at. Yale researcher Paul Bloom wrote a whole book about this concept of empathy as a bad thing, and I think that is what the manifesto is getting at (I'd almost argue quoting): https://www.amazon.com/Against-Empathy-Case-Rational-Compass... TL;DR is this:

> We often think of our capacity to experience the suffering of others as the ultimate source of goodness. Many of our wisest policy-makers, activists, scientists, and philosophers agree that the only problem with empathy is that we don’t have enough of it.

> Nothing could be further from the truth, argues Yale researcher Paul Bloom. In AGAINST EMPATHY, Bloom reveals empathy to be one of the leading motivators of inequality and immorality in society. Far from helping us to improve the lives of others, empathy is a capricious and irrational emotion that appeals to our narrow prejudices. It muddles our judgment and, ironically, often leads to cruelty. We are at our best when we are smart enough not to rely on it, but to draw instead upon a more distanced compassion.

This is how that manifesto is being so miscategorised. It says - DIRECT QUOTE - "relying on affective empathy — feeling another's pain — causes us to focus on anecdotes, favour individuals similar to us, and harbour other irrational and dangerous biases". Not empathy is not required. Not empathy is useless, but a specific, nuanced usage of empathy. It is understandable this miscategorisation given how most people see empathy, but it is still borderline strawmanning to impose a definition here that was not intended.


This is around the multiple definitions of empathy. To quote:

I am staunchly with Bloom here: it is undoubtedly a valuable gift, but only provided it is fortified by a prior rational moral position and appropriately judged action. And there are many arguably moral actions that have nothing to do with empathy or even sympathy – paying one’s taxes, or picking up litter are not glamorous activities but they stem from a rational perception of what is for the general good.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/feb/06/against-empath...


> This is a non-statement. Replace 'engineering' with science, medicine, finance, customer service, politics, retail, programming etc., and it will sound as correct.

That's the entire point. That you don't get that is telling. Engineering is not some magic meritocratic endeavour where we all succeed by writing the very best code we can. It's messy, and it involves working with people just as much as it does a text editor. Hence this whole assertion of women being ill suited for the job is complete nonsense according to the logic presented in the manifesto itself.


Mildly amusing observation: You're defending the original article, yet at the same time you're perpetuating sexist assumptions (to be clear, I mean the assumption that men are inherently worse than women at certain tasks). This isn't meant to attack you, just thought I should point it out in case you haven't noticed.


I see what you mean. But following on from the article linked (which does the same) I'm addressing that the manifesto isn't even consistent in its own logic. My comment wasn't intended as an all-encompassing take down of the entire manifesto!

I've updated the end to reflect that I'm talking about the inconsistency in the manifesto itself.


> Engineering is not some magic meritocratic endeavour where we all succeed by writing the very best code we can. It's messy, and it involves working with people just as much as it does a text editor.

Life involves working with people. Empathy is a life skill. Logical reasoning is also a life skill, but some jobs require more of it than others.

> Hence this whole assertion of women being ill suited for the job is complete nonsense according to the logic presented in the manifesto itself.

Well, good thing that's not what the manifesto was asserting, then.


[flagged]


> It's like watching a lightbulb is slowly turning on above your head.

Perhaps I'm misreading this, but if not: personal attacks will get you banned on HN. Please don't do this again.


> If you don't see any other way to deal with OP's views than described in this belittling rant

If that's how you read it then I feel like you missed the entire point.

> This is a non-statement. Replace 'engineering' with science, medicine, finance, customer service, politics, retail, programming etc., and it will sound as correct.

Again, I'm feeling like you missed the point.


> And as for its impact on you: Do you understand that at this point, I could not in good conscience assign anyone to work with you? I certainly couldn’t assign any women to deal with this, a good number of the people you might have to work with may simply punch you in the face, and even if there were a group of like-minded individuals I could put you with, nobody would be able to collaborate with them. You have just created a textbook hostile workplace environment.

Textbook thoughtcrime punishment. The heretic must be isolated and extirpated, with physical violence for good measure. Don't you dare interact with him, or else you'll be ostracized as well.


Wow, I thought what the author said was hyperbolic until I read this response. Come on now. How many SF Bay Area tech workers would actually assault another employee over comments posted on the Internet? How many software engineers at Google have ever even been in a fight?

This "punch you in the face" thing seems to be a sticking point for most of the comments here and I think people are misrepresenting what the author is trying to say. He's not advocating for violence, he's considering a possibility in which he would have to make managerial decisions based on animosity between employees over this "manifesto". That's reasonable. I'm not sure what kind of culture they have at Google, but from my time working as a software developer I've rarely discussed politics at the office. I avoid it. It has the potential to bring down the morale of the team. Just don't see the point in throwing a wrench into the gears of the company you work for to make a political point.

Don't you dare interact with him, or else you'll be ostracized as well.

Oh please. There's a reason why the writer of this "manifesto" felt the need to grovel and apologize in every opening paragraph. He knew how his peers would take it. You can't just raise into question the fundamental capability of every woman you work with and then expect them to want to work with you. People lose friends over Facebook posts. He deserves to be ostracized for bringing this crap into the office. There are no "thoughtcrimes" here, just someone with a persecution complex fomenting strife amongst his own colleagues. Would you want to work with someone like that?


I agree with everything you say but I would also say that this type of response from a manager (even with the reduced third section) is a major contribution to a hostile work environment. Public ego-tripping is the antithesis of a good manager and saying "you are wrong about everything and suck at life" when you are about to fire someone is always the wrong thing no matter how frustrated you are with that person or how true you think that statment is.

I also think that using violent imagery to make a point is a bad idea in almost any context, even if clearly not ment literally. He did at least explicitly say he would not include that part if writing when on the job.


> [...] raise into question the fundamental capability of every woman you work with [...]

Can you please substantiate? Link to the "manifesto", https://gizmodo.com/exclusive-heres-the-full-10-page-anti-di...


Does this really need explaining? He lists certain traits he thinks are distinct to men and women. Clearly, "ability to handle stress" is important for every job. Measuring someone's stress and perceiving your own stress are highly subjective, as is the definition of success. The manifesto author acts like these things are all objectively observable, but they're not.

If you want a data-based analysis on which we can all probably agree, look at the success of Google. They've maintained these values over the years with the same founders and have found quite a bit of success.


> ability to handle stress gender difference

https://www.google.com/search?q=ability+to+handle+stress+gen...

First result:

http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2010/gender-st...

First paragraph:

> Men and women* report different reactions to stress, both physically and mentally. They attempt to manage stress in very different ways and also perceive their ability to do so — and the things that stand in their way — in markedly different ways. Findings suggest that while women are more likely to report physical symptoms associated with stress, they are doing a better job connecting with others in their lives and, at times, these connections are important to their stress management strategies.

Note that the Gizmodo publication removed data and references from the text, https://gizmodo.com/exclusive-heres-the-full-10-page-anti-di...

> The text of the post is reproduced in full below, with some minor formatting modifications. Two charts and several hyperlinks are also omitted.

Disclaimer: I have no idea how this facet affects one's capacity of performing in a tech role, if at all.


I'm not sure what you're rebutting. The APA page doesn't support any claim that men or women are better at handling stress. It just says they handle it differently.

> Disclaimer: I have no idea how this facet affects one's capacity of performing in a tech role.

Yeah. On the other hand, the manifesto author suggests that "stress tolerance" is gender based, and may affect your capacity to succeed in tech: "differences may explain why we don't see equal representation of women in tech"

It seems clear to me that the manifesto author "raises into question the fundamental capability of every woman he works with".


> It seems clear to me that the manifesto author "raises into question the fundamental capability of every woman he works with".

Could you quote the part of the manifesto that says so / gave this impression.

I totally understand the offensiveness and stupidity of such a belief -I just fail to see how the author argues for it given that he explicitly states the opposite

> Many of these differences are small and there’s significant overlap between men and women, so you can’t say anything about an individual given these population level distributions.

As far as I can see the author is arguing average aptitudes in populations and consequent percentual representation of men and women not being 50/50. Not aptititudes of individuals. As the author also argues for actions that in their eyes increases the attractiveness of tech jobs to women they seem to think of the women that work with them as perfectly capable.

I appreciate any help in understanding this point of view. It just feels like we read different manifestos


>> It seems clear to me that the manifesto author "raises into question the fundamental capability of every woman he works with".

> Could you quote the part of the manifesto that says so / gave this impression.

I did. The parts in quotes above are directly from the manifesto. He lists differences between sexes and claims one gender has "lower stress tolerance". That's a gross generalization that doesn't account for a lot of perception factors which I outlined in an above comment. He also prefaces that section by saying "these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech".

> As far as I can see the author is arguing average aptitudes in populations and consequent percentual representation of men and women not being 50/50. Not aptititudes of individuals

The author makes the claim that one sex's ineptitude in a modern role is, on average, rooted in biology. That's not supported by science.


Thanks for clarifying. Is it fair to say that you disagree with the author on whether the biological differences exist (and if they do the size of their effect on representation), not with the logical merit of the argument (group aptitude and preference affect representation)?

I can understand that position and think we can call it a day as i don't feel qualified to argue the size of the effect. It could very well be just 1%, i.e. 49/51.

If not

> "raises into question the fundamental capability of every woman he works with"

> The author makes the claim that one sex's ineptitude in a modern role is, on average, rooted in biology. That's not supported by science.

This does not follow from your argument.

Your argument only supports that the author questions the ability of every women who fails to get a job in the field / that modern role.

If it is proven that biological differences do not significantly impact modern role preference and capability, you and the author agree that representation should be 50/50. He never specifies how much of an influence he believes biological differences to have, just that there could be some.

I also disagree with your assertion that the author questions any individual womens aptitude based on her gender. He is talking averages across the general population, not applicants after all.


> Is it fair to say that you disagree with the author on whether the biological differences exist (and if they do the size of their effect on representation), not with the logical merit of the argument (group aptitude and preference affect representation)?

I agree there are biological differences. But, one can't cite these as reasons why certain women don't land tech roles. That remains unstudied and is highly subjective from many angles. The process of determining "what is success" is, in part, having organizations that have different values, a free market, and separate countries ever since the Peace of Westphalia.

This subthread is about whether the manifesto "raises into question the fundamental capability of every woman he works with"

You wrote,

> Your argument only supports that the author questions the ability of every women who fails to get a job in the field / that modern role.

Are we simply disagreeing about to whom the author is referring? Like, are you saying that the author isn't talking about his current coworkers, but rather candidates for that field / role?

How would you feel if you were a woman working with this guy? If he criticized your work, would you not feel he is pre-judging you based on biological precepts? Wouldn't it be lousy to work with someone who thought you were biologically not able to do the job well?

> If it is proven that biological differences do not significantly impact modern role preference and capability,

Nobody needs to prove that biological differences don't impact modern role capability. It hasn't been proven.

I don't need to prove to you that flying spaghetti monsters don't exist. The burden of proof is on you to show that they do.

> you and the author agree that representation should be 50/50.

Not really. Men choosing to hire men over women is a factor. The author is still making a gross generalization even if his intention is to only criticize women who didn't land a tech role. And regardless of his intention, he has ostracized himself from working with many women. That is his burden, not women's.


The author completely ignores the accusation that Google silences people with non-conforming ideologies, then suggests that the author of the manifesto should be punished. Almost seems he accepts that there is an echo chamber, and approves of it?


> The heretic must be isolated and extirpated, with physical violence for good measure.

More like "the [heretic] has burned any social capital or respect their coworkers might have had for them, and so no longer are capable of working in a collaborative environment with their peers"


Having just read the manifesto, I've seen someone trying to approach a very tough subject in an awkward way. They were not hateful or fanatical.

It was disappointing to see they didn't provide citations for their statements, but the argumentation is quite nuanced and contains plenty of disclaimers, clarifications and apologies. The "neuroticism" statement was quite crass, but otherwise I must confess that I don't have the necessary knowledge to disprove the manifesto's argumentation. Furthermore, some statements match what I read in some evolutionary psychology books.

I believe it would be very helpful if people could correct the manifesto author's statements and provide references instead of attacking the author.

I don't see why they should lose social capital or the respect of their coworkers. Why does the US society want to punish people so severely for expressing opinions in a polite way instead of correcting them when necessary and giving them a second chance?


Just in case you were reading Gizmodo's version, http://gizmodo.com/exclusive-heres-the-full-10-page-anti-div..., please note that the original document has been edited specifically to remove data and references.

> The text of the post is reproduced in full below, with some minor formatting modifications. Two charts and several hyperlinks are also omitted.


More like "the [heretic] has burned any social capital or respect their coworkers might have had for them, and so no longer are capable of working in a collaborative environment with their peers"

This says more about the bigotry and intolerance of the coworkers than the author of the manifesto. It also confirms the manifesto author's point entirely about the echo-chamber hostility towards anyone who doesn't toe the line.

If someone can't read that thoughtful, polite, sincere, and clearly-written piece and respond without "losing respect for their co-worker", they are far too sensitive.


I've worked successfully with a number of people whose opinions on many subjects were radically different than my own. It's called being a professional.


Textbook thoughtcrime punishment.

People are fired for exhibiting corrosive, counterproductive, or otherwise bad attitudes every day. Are they all victims of "textbook thoughtcrime punishment?"


People are fired for exhibiting corrosive, counterproductive, or otherwise bad attitudes every day. Are they all victims of "textbook thoughtcrime punishment?"

The Google manifesto does not represent a "corrosive, counterproductive, or otherwise bad attitude." That so many people are insane or lazy enough to think it does is precisely the author's point.


The question in my mind is: Does an opinion suddenly become a "thought crime" if expressing it publicly might get you fired from a non-governmental employer? The consequences don't include incarceration or even necessarily the end of a career. This is, in principle, "crime?" Really?

You've jumped straight into name calling without engaging that question.

Couldn't we characterize the manifesto scandal as, in part, an apalling lack of judgement? Should your response lend me (or anyone) any confidence in your judgement? Yet here you are, charging right in with a judgement call.

Consider the possibility that you have read the manifesto but you haven't understood the context. That other people, who claim to see something else there, really are seeing it, they're not making it up. Consider the possibility that some of them have had experiences you have not. That some of them are just smarter than you. That people who disagree with you aren't insane or lazy.


The question in my mind is: Does an opinion suddenly become a "thought crime" if expressing it publicly might get you fired from a non-governmental employer?

Coercive behavior of any sort is rarely an appropriate response to a sincere and well-articulated argument. It is incumbent on the coercive actor to justify their actions. Usually, the justifications are not controversial. When they are, often that means there's a problem somewhere and that discussion really is necessary.

In this case, the author clearly explains why he believes this topic is important to discuss.

Couldn't we characterize the manifesto scandal as, in part, an apalling lack of judgement?

No. Not unless you accept that it is justified to punish someone for posting a polite, articulate, well-informed argument made out of a genuine attempt to be both truthful and helpful to the mission of the organization. (note: well-informed does not mean comprehensive or right about everything. It just means good enough to start a dialog.)

Should your response lend me (or anyone) any confidence in your judgement? Yet here you are, charging right in with a judgement call.

Explain to me how the memo is corrosive. What is being corroded?

Explain to me how the memo is counterproductive. What is the desired production? How does the memo run counter to that production?

Explain to me how the memo represents a bad attitude. What is "bad" and "good?"

I say the memo is polite because it shows a substantial degree of sensitivity to the opposing arguments and ideology. The ideas are presented in a detached, academic manner with a clear effort to avoid sensational rhetoric or ranting.

I say the memo is sincere for several reasons. I am unable to detect any attempt to misrepresent or mischaracterize his opposition. He clearly demonstrates acceptance of personal responsibility for the opinions presented. Finally, he appeals to open discussion in a way that welcomes disagreement and sincere disputation of any points he makes. The one presumption of sincerity that I might have questioned-- that Google really is an ideological echo-chamber-- was overwhelmingly confirmed by the hostility of the response.

I say the memo is clear and thoughtful because the author uses plainly stated premises and syllogisms. He is straightforward with his points and transparent with his logic. While specific citations for supporting evidence could have been more rigorous, it's clear that the author is not just pulling these positions out of nowhere. Any reasonable attempt to continue discussion could challenge him to go into more detail about the supporting evidence.

That some of them are just smarter than you.

It has little to do with intelligence. It has mostly to do with not having the first clue how to tell the difference between a legitimate attempt at dialog and ideologically-motivated rhetoric. Intelligence is only a factor insofar as a baseline of intelligence is needed to comprehend the argument. I'm not an expert but I suspect most of the people hysterical about the manifesto are smart enough to understand it, if they knew how to read it properly.


It has little to do with intelligence. It has mostly to do with not having the first clue how to tell the difference between a legitimate attempt at dialog and ideologically-motivated rhetoric.

Hm.


I believe he's talking about punishing the overt act of publishing this large manifesto and the negative consequences that flow from it. Not the thinking or discussing his views.


Who would think that publishing a manifesto might have consequences?


Calling this a "manifesto" is mostly laziness. It is not actually a manifesto. It is a call to dialog. It is a memo that identifies and describes a perceived problem and thoughtfully follows through with some reasonable suggestions for what could be done about it.

While one can tolerate people referring to it as a manifesto for the sake of clarity, since his name is not common knowledge and there is no other catchy title associated with it, it's not reasonable to use that language to imply that what was written is actually a manifesto by the dictionary definition of the word.

A manifesto is a published verbal declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government.

That is quite clearly not what the author's piece actually is.


And here I was thinking that I was being all moderate by not calling it a "screed" or a "rant".


Not like you gave me much to work with. It was a single sentence of bland sarcasm.


Shouldn't even be talking about it. It's simply not an option. Violence is not acceptable. Period. Discussing it as a repercussion for a possibly misguided manifesto is not an option. It's disgusting.


[flagged]


Are you seriously stating that insulting/offending people is equal in moral gravity to punching them?

I read the manifesto and thought it was stupid in most of its claims. But it's not hard to feel like thoughtcrime has become a real thing nowadays.


[flagged]


Writing some manifesto can be at most offensive, but is nowhere near "abuse". And it's under no circumstance as grave as physical assault.

Try your tough guy act in real life and you'll have a very serious discussion with the police.


That's insane.

All of human moral progress can be briefly summarized as "talking, not hitting."


No. All of human moral progress can be briefly summarized as "not hurting other people". Solving disagreements through discussion is better than solving them through violence, but you don't solve disagreements via discussion if you attack them verbally.


Comment 1: > It's not great, but the idea that attacking people verbally is somehow "better" than attacking them physically is wrong.

Comment 2: > Solving disagreements through discussion is better than solving them through violence

lol, always amusing when I assume both intelligence and good faith when discussing things on the internet.

You think I'd learn.


Wait, are you actually equating discussions, with verbally attacking someone? And then you have the gall to accuse me of acting in bad faith?


Would you please not do the flamewar thing on HN? It's tediously off topic and damages the site.


Absolutely: I am accusing you of either that, clouded thinking, or both.

In fact, this discussion is a demonstration of my point. We are both attacking one another's intellectual and moral reasoning abilities via speech. This is better than than us having a fist fight over the matter.


Right, and because it's hard to have discussions that may not be easy to resolve, it far easier to re-label those disagreements as "attack them verbally." Hence, the new thoughtcrime.


So tell me why you labeled "people disagree with me" as "thoughtcrime"


One is a crime and the other isn't. That's for a good reason.


That's not punishment, it's problem-solving. It's about protecting the company, not what the manifesto author deserves. Yonatan Zunger didn't promote any kind of retribution or vengeance for writing the manifesto, just that they would have to stop the employee from further degrading the workplace environment with the most reliably effective response, termination.


Anyone who thinks the Google author's piece represents degradation of the workplace environment needs to put up a valid non-circular argument for why that is the case.

No one has. And no one will, because the piece is very polite, sincere, well-written, and reasonable.

Anyone can claim their feelings are hurt by someone speaking the truth as they see it. That doesn't mean you get to use that claim (true or not) to impose your will forcefully on others any time you want to.


Effectively every public rebuttal to the piece has painstakingly demonstrated in great detail how and why it actively and maliciously "degrades the workplace environment." To claim that nobody has successfully done so is disingenuous in the extreme.


Link me one.


You are actually commenting under the link to one. Zunger's post does an excellent job explaining how this 'memo' is right the opposite of your description: it is vastly incorrect, uncivilized, insincere, awfully written and unreasonable. More links on this: Google has hired a diversity VP — just as it struggles with a sexist memo from an employee https://www.recode.net/2017/8/5/16102476/google-diversity-vp... Dr. Sadedin's Quora answer: https://www.quora.com/What-do-scientists-think-about-the-bio...


Tell me about it. Reading that made me sick. I don't necessarily agree with the original manifesto, but the idea that "a good number of the people you might have to work with may simply punch you in the face" is an acceptable thing to say is ridiculous.

If this "manifesto" was actually racist and bigoted, it still doesn't excuse violence, or the suggestion of violence. That is FAR worse. It's un-American. We tolerate groups like the KKK or Black Panthers or Westboro Baptist because even if they are vehemently WRONG, they have a right to speak freely.

Not to mention, one person published what they thought at risk of being ostracized by their community and workplace. The other person doesn't work at Google, has 0 real risk, and is just taking the status quo stance and presenting a holier-than-thou approach.

This is all you need to see: "Either political analysis of authoritarian regimes, or interesting facts about science, depending on my mood."

What this means is:

Wahhhh Trump! I'm pretty moody and better than you, so I'll only discuss something if I can look good doing it or I can impress everybody.


> Tell me about it. Reading that made me sick. I don't necessarily agree with the original manifesto, but the idea that "a good number of the people you might have to work with may simply punch you in the face" is an acceptable thing to say is ridiculous.

Agreed. Yonatan Zunger holds some very disturbing views. Google is better off being rid of him.


> We tolerate groups like the KKK or Black Panthers or Westboro Baptist because even if they are vehemently WRONG, they have a right to speak freely.

We also don't hire the KKK. Those of us who run companies or manage people respect our employees more than to have a gay employee pair program with a member of the Westboro Baptist Church. Free speech does not mean immunity from the consequences of your actions.


It's inhuman to attempt to destroy someone's life for having politically incorrect opinions, no matter what those opinions are.

The employee should instead give them a warning and educate them. Writing a manifesto is not a capital crime.


More or less inhumane than forcing a gay employee to work alongside someone that has publicly stated he thinks gay people should be killed?

The problem is that someone has to bear a cost when opinions like this are made public.


> More or less inhumane than forcing a gay employee to work alongside someone that has publicly stated he thinks gay people should be killed?

Since the original manifesto author has advocated nothing remotely analogous to that, I would say that your attempted comparison is intellectually dishonest and places you on far more morally shaky ground than him.

Moreover, if "...someone has to bear a cost when opinions like this are made public...", as you say, are you in turn willing to pay the the same cost if public opinion turns against your political views? Any behavior you legitimize to attack your political enemies becomes equally legitimate to use against you when the public mood shifts! You'd have to be bonkers to think this sort of thing is a good idea to normalize.


> I would say that your attempted comparison is intellectually dishonest and places you on far more morally shaky ground than him.

Maybe you should refer upthread where someone else threw out that comparison, not me? I was replying to them with the theoretical they outlined.

I don't really know how to respond to the rest of your post. Public moods have always shifted, and people's public responses have changed. It's already normalised. People used to be openly racist, now they aren't. Their racism then wasn't correct at the time and incorrect now, it was always wrong. Will my views become equally offensive some day? I don't see why I would assume they will. And if they do, and I don't adjust, maybe I will deserve to be called out for it.


> Will my views become equally offensive some day? I don't see why I would assume they will. And if they do, and I don't adjust, maybe I will deserve to be called out for it.

It already happened before in the past and it was directed against the left. Do the names "Joe McCarthy" and the "Red Scare" of the 1950s ring a bell?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCarthyism

If Senator McCarthy and the Committee for Unamerican Activities had knocked on your door and condemned you for being a leftist, would you have sheepishly smiled and said (to paraphrase you own words), "Gee, Senator, maybe I do deserve to be called out for it." and quietly accepted the destruction of your life for holding a politically unpopular view? Is that truly what you are saying?

I give up. I can only hope that your movement is discredited and expelled from the left before it does as much damage as McCarthy did before he was discredited.


[I've made about four edits to this post and still can't do it justice - should have drafted it more thoroughly. Others have made my points much more effectively and this is just a distraction, so I'll remove it]


Imagine for a second that, controlling for all environmental factors, the average IQ of men was shown to be 3 points lower than women. (Totally hypothetical.) Additionally, women in this world outperform men at chess by a noticeable margin.

There is a valid argument in this case to be made about how the reason women are better than men at chess is partly biological, and that chess diversity programs should be cognizant of this. How would you propose this be brought up in today's climate without offending people?

I don't know if you haven't read the manifesto, or are happy making simplifications for the sake of making conclusive moral statements, but it is wildly dishonest to claim the manifesto argued that "women are genetically inferior." It argued that on average, looking at various traits and preferences, men and women are better at and care about different things, some of which make them better suited -- again, on average-- to some professions than others.

You can disagree and that can be a fun internet argument, but judging by the reaction to this manifesto, the sheer outrage while misrepresenting the manifesto's content, sort of demonstrates the author's meta-point about ideological homogeneity.


> There is a valid argument in this case to be made about how the reason women are better than men at chess

But there isn't. There is an argument that women are, on average, better than men at chess. But that argument does not apply to an individual person. Why would you use male vs female average IQ when judging who becomes a member of the chess team? Why not assess the candidates IQ? Or, maybe have them play chess and see how well they do?

There is a persistent theory that diversity programmes exist to promote underqualified minorities over qualified white people. That's not true. The aim of the programmes is to find people who have been disadvantaged by this exact kind of (often subconscious) "well when you average group X out over the entire country ignoring educational achievement and employment history, typically they're not so good" thinking and have lost out on past opportunities.

You're right, I was using some excessive shorthand in my original post and will amend it - the assumptions are not genetic, they are social. But the point still stands, why be making these assumptions at all?


* I've always assumed "frogs are bigger than toads" has "on average" implied, and that obviously some toads are bigger than some frogs.

* If the real goal is to find overlooked, qualified people, we should expect to see more moneyball type thinking, and less lazy diversity-for-diversity's-sake thinking.

* The current trend of hyperfocusing on social causes of behavior and making biological ones taboo seems dangerous. I would argue that a comprehensive, accurate description of how people work makes you better at grounding your compassion in effective results. To that end, overlooking something as big as biology seems an easy way to enact a policy that's well-intentioned but harmful.

* Some people may appeal to biology in a sexist way and maybe history has many examples, but some people really just want to know what the truth is. Another way of making this point: https://twitter.com/clairlemon/status/846520296240693248


>But that argument does not apply to an individual person.

Google is supposed to be a data-driven organization.

If the engineers they've hired can't tell the difference between statistical distance and the utility value of a Gaussian distribution, I think they have an entirely different issue on their hands...


>The manifesto argues that women are genetically inferior and that most women developers shouldn't have their job.

Are we reading the same manifesto? The one I read argues that men and women are different. Pros and cons. Strengths and weaknesses.

I think you are the one holding a binary view while conflating different and inferior?


> What an absurd statement. The manifesto argues that women are genetically inferior and that most women developers shouldn't have their job.

That's not what he said at all. He said they are, on average, different, but people can't talk about it without resorting to these Trumpish generalizations and accusations. Did you actually read it?


> The manifesto argues that women are genetically inferior and that most women developers shouldn't have their job.

Can you please substantiate? Link for the manifesto: https://gizmodo.com/exclusive-heres-the-full-10-page-anti-di...


>> The manifesto clearly lays out the fact that women are genetically inferior and that most women developers shouldn't have their job.

This could be very easily misread by someone not paying close attention. Consider "argues that" instead of "clearly lays out the fact that."


Fair. Edited. Thanks!


Having read the full manifesto, I find myself agreeing with the author's thought process for a bunch of his points and clearly disagreeing with others. He presented them well, not offensive at all, and if I had a discussion with him I'm sure he seems open to change certain beliefs if presented with ample evidence. I would generally love talking to this guy. Instead everyone shames him, tells him his mostly very valid thought process is sexist and his career is done. This guy woukd never discuss this with anyone and things will go on as they do today or worse he'll ostracize the left completely and will go in his own bubble and no positive change. This is what happened with Trump, an acquaintance posted on Facebook how the gender wage gap was almost nonexistent at the same job, industry and role but how we should instead work towards empowering women to better deal with promotions and re entering work force after pregnancy and unanimously got destroyed by maybe a hundred fb friends. He removed most of them and started jut posting pro trump stuff and I don't blame him


"That's how you create monsters".

Reminds me of that guy in France, Dieudonné. He was a pretty famous comedian and he ended up making a joke about jewish people on TV. The jewish lobby got hard on him, got him banned from TV channels. Consequently he got banned from radios, cities started refusing him touring, etc...

Now he became a huge antisemitic and he's friend with all the extreme-right people.


http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2017/08/07/google-fires-viewpo...

He was contacted by breitbart the alt right extremist nationalist paper which is comprised of very xenophobic individuals, at least as of now, and he responded to their emails and not to others as far as I can tell. He's now clearly pissed and will speak out because he's ostracized completely by the left. MIT Harvard phd, damn it got another Dieudonne


> Instead everyone shames him, tells him his mostly very valid thought process is sexist and his career is done.

It's a method: https//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Struggle_session


Broken link (missing a colon): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Struggle_session


> Instead everyone shames him, tells him his mostly very valid thought process is sexist and his career is done

What? This guy has gotten an unbelievable amount of attention and debate on the topic he wanted to discuss, both in support and against it.

Trump got the same attention, and constantly complained he didn't get enough.

Enough with this lie that certain [far right] conservatives don't get enough press. They get plenty of it by making outlandish statements that they know will get them lots of attention, both good and bad.


You fail to see the difference between attention and actual debate. Very few of the opposing views actually try to dissect his statements, but choose to rant away. Yonatan's piece being a prime example of an ad hominem that attacks views he never once wrote in favour of.

It's also quite dishonest of you to liken a reasonably well written, source referenced piece with the rants from the clown in the oval office. The manifest was to start a debate, not chants of MAGA.

Instead of general statements about outlandish remarks, attack what he actually said.


> It's also quite dishonest of you to liken a reasonably well written, source referenced piece with the rants from the clown in the oval office.

The parent comment mentioned Trump, and I'm responding to that. Fact is, the parent comment, the manifesto author, and Trump, all complain about not getting the proper attention. Meanwhile, they're getting a TON OF IT! and laughing all the way to the attention-bank.

> You fail to see the difference between attention and actual debate

"Actual debate"? Sounds like you want the debate to happen on your terms. That's not how debate works.

The original author wrote that women have "higher anxiety, lower stress tolerance". That is highly debatable. Yonatan responds to the author's belief that "women and men are intrinsically different" as it pertains to the workplace.

We all know that, historically speaking, women have had fewer rights and opportunities than men. Women won equal rights from government, and it's not so shocking to me that a company might try diversity training in order to move the needle further towards equal opportunity.


You are saying what the guy posted wasn't offensive and also that everyone is finding it offensive.

That makes no sense unless everyone is stupid.


You are saying what the guy posted wasn't offensive and also that everyone is finding it offensive.

Heh, interesting point, though I chalk it up to a bit of carelessness. When you say:

That makes no sense unless everyone is stupid.

Actually it has nothing to do with intelligence or stupidity and everything to do with what ought to be considered a baseline "thickness of skin," in the context of a discussion of corporate policies and priorities. Parent is saying that a reasonably normal and well-balanced person should be able to read the manifesto without being offended. Certainly, anyone who thinks they are in a position to provide advice to a company with a half a trillion dollar market cap should have a thick enough skin to read that without getting offended.

Also, it's worth considering the distinct possibility that the people acting offended and outraged by the manifesto aren't being genuine. Or else they haven't read it and have simply been told to be offended. That's how this works. A bunch of writers for big-name media properties get people outraged by running a story claiming that a Googler wrote an "Anti-Diversity Screed," which sounds awful of course. The problem is that such a claim is simply not true.


Maybe everyone is stupid. Not really -- some are malicious, for example, this medium post starts with a bald-faced lie.


You're correct, but this story is being buried on HN. The lie at the beginning;

>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


Thank you for pointing this out, really changed his credibility in my eyes.


> You are saying what the guy posted wasn't offensive and also that everyone is finding it offensive.

This is exactly what's been going through my mind following the threads on this issue today.

> That makes no sense unless everyone is stupid.

I think this is a false dichotomy. The offended comments seem to be offended by arguments similar to those in the manifesto rather than those in the manifesto. E.g. offense is rightly taken at the argument "biological differences explain job preferences" while the manifesto argues "biological differences explain job preferences [in part]".

So rather than [A] being being offended by something that is not offensive (i.e. stupid) or [B] the manifesto being offensive I think we're left with [C] people being rightly offended by something that's not in the manifesto.

With this the argument becomes: That makes no sense unless people have bad reading comprehension

Which I happily accept :)


Actually, what I was trying to say was that the document cannot be simultaneously non offensive and yet offend everyone reading it unless "everyone is stupid = has bad reading comprehension"

I don't think everyone has bad reading comprehension, tbh. It is what parts of the document that you focus on - the ones that align with your existing world view - that cause you to agree with it or get offended by it.

Some see it as "just sharing an opinion" and others see it as "questioning my capability of doing the tech job"

Both sides are reading the same document.


> Some see it as "just sharing an opinion" and others see it as "questioning my capability of doing the tech job"

Could you point me to a quote taken in context that does that? I just reread the document and fail to see where the manifesto questions an individuals capacity of doing a tech job. I'm honestly trying but fail to see the offense.

AFAIK the author questions whether the percentage of capable and willing individuals is the same between men and women [1].

The manifesto also contains this quote to put the above in context

> I’m also not saying that we should restrict people to certain gender roles; I’m advocating for quite the opposite: treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group (tribalism).

[1]: I agree with his conclusion that a non 50/50 split is not necessarily bias. The reasoning can't be discussed without the removed references.

PS: > "everyone is stupid = has bad reading comprehension" I disagree with the equality in general but I think your interpretation is fair as well - we probably just disagree on the context (e.g. did people pay full attention or even read the article at all).


> Could you point me to a quote taken in context that does that? I just reread the document and fail to see where the manifesto questions an individuals capacity of doing a tech job. I'm honestly trying but fail to see the offense.

I'd second this. I've read it a few times and can't see the problem. To be explicit, I'm not saying there is no problem, I'm asking for help to see it.


The basic premise that we disagree on is do men and women have the same mental ability to do the same engineering task.

It sounds like you agree that there are differences in men and women that mean a non 50/50 split is understandable without being blamed of bias.

Have I understood you correctly?


Perhaps more interestingly, the author does not appear to understand engineering.

This guy gets it. It's a deep temptation to abstract engineering away from humanism, but the idea that code can solve problems is an immature understanding of software. People have the problems; people provide the solutions. Code is a tool & intermediary, and hardly essential to the act of problem-solving.


Yet, if we look at Google's track record, they have much better luck with technical problems than with people-interaction problems. Search driven by algorithms - excellent. Social networks - epic fail. Advertising backend - money juggernaut, mostly driven by clever algorithms, as I understand? Mobile OS backend - great (well, ok, not too bad). Mobile OS frontend - meh. Chrome is kinda borderline, but I think technology has much more to do with its success then it having the best UX on the market. Shopping experience (outside of captive market of mobile users) - not too hot. Goggles - a flop.

In general, I feel if I am talking about a product from Google, I could expect a lot of very clever technology, but kinda basic UX. Sometimes it works - e.g. search works with basic UX just fine, that's what most people need. Sometimes people would just take the technology and add their own UX and that'd work fine too. But I personally get a feeling that Google's core competence is exactly in places that you are calling "hardly essential". Am I wrong?


You're forgetting important Google products where design or user experience played a crucial role in winning.

Gmail - the dominant webmail platform that made pioneering use of AJAX; before it you had to refresh the page to check if you had new email. And whose inbuilt chat client crushed Yahoo Messenger/MSN/AOL. People came for the 1GB of free storage, stayed for the friends they made on chat.

YouTube - Video juggernaut that has a pretty good community and mobile app. Sure it was an acquisition but it's been a Google property far longer than it was independent. If they weren't good at design or community-building they might have easily screwed it up; it's happened with Yahoo's Flicker acquisition.

Google Productivity Suite - The UX on these is hit-or-miss actually; the Google Drive web UI is a massive fail for me. But you can't deny the success of these very consumer-focused applications. They've been executed very well and clearly enough people like them that the opinion of someone like me is irrelevant.

Orkut - You might laugh but it absolutely ruled social in India and Brazil till Facebook caught on.

Chromecast - it's done all right; 30 million sold so far

Not to mention this one

> Search driven by algorithms

also misses the mark. Google Search's user experience was also revolutionary. Their homepage was (and still is) sparse and uncluttered; laser-focused on providing the user with the best search results and absolutely nothing else. They didn't try to become a "portal" like Yahoo even though everyone told them they were crazy to not capitalize on the popularity of their homepage.


Don't completely disagree with you. But,

Gmail:

From my hazy memory of the time it was released: 1. Best usage of AJAX and providing complex interaction without refreshing the page. 2. More storage space than any other provider.

Both, technical feats of excellence?

Youtube:

It was an acquired product, and there were quite a few points at which the YouTube community reacted angrily to Google driven changes, prominently when they made Google+ mandatory for comments.

GPS, Orkut, Chromecast and Homepage decisions: I agree on your point here.


Gmail in my opinion was powerful because it was used search vs. painstakingly moving messages into folders. It also had auto-threading so you would not have the clutter of re:re:re:re: ad nauseum... And most of all it was very fast.


Yes! Email conversation threads! I'd forgotten that one. Also a +1 for UX.

You might quibble about this but recognizing that fast search is better than foldering is also UX. It seems obvious to us now but maybe it wasn't that obvious in 2006 (or maybe it was, I didn't know anything about UX or design back then). Yes making the search go fast is a technical feat and without good tech you can't have a good user experience even if the design is good (see WebOS).


> because it was used search vs. painstakingly moving messages

In other words, we eliminate UX (folders, etc.) with superior technology (just search for whatever thing you need). Of course, people still use folders (renamed labels - that btw I think is a win, but most people afaik don't use that aspect too much). And BTW Inbox - their attempt to redesign the whole experience - is not that popular as I understand?

> And most of all it was very fast.

Technology! :)


Let's see:

> Gmail

This one gained popularity when promising a whopping for free 1Gb was crazy good offer. People seriously thought it's a gimmick that won't last. Now that you can pretty much buy 1TB drives with pocket change it sounds funny, but back then it was spectacular. UX had very little to do with it, and frankly I still kinda avoid using gmail website, much preferring to use mail client.

> Youtube

Excellent idea, and excellent decision whoever decided to buy it. Social aspect is not that clear - youtube comments are notorious for being utter garbage, and while everybody is using youtube, nobody does social networking on youtube. UX is ok, not spectacular.

> Google Productivity Suite

Google drive and google photos are UX epic fail, IMHO. I'm still pissed about them killing Picasa, it wasn't excellent but at least useful.

> Orkut

Yeah, this is an undeniable success in social networking, and everybody I heard from in Google are equally surprised and have no idea what happened there and why it took off. I suspect it's one of those "right place, right time" moments.

> Chromecast

That works reasonably well, but does it have any UX to speak of? Then again, maybe it's exactly Google's forte - the products that don't need any UX beyond plugging them in and turning them on. That, however, I think would also kind of play to my point of technology being stronger then UX.

> They didn't try to become a "portal" like Yahoo

Yes, they avoided a dumb mistake, which is a plus for them, but I'm not sure that this qualifies as being strong at UX. Unless you say that there is to be no UX anymore beyond the very basics - which, again, works for some tasks, but far from all.


> That works reasonably well, but does it have any UX to speak of?

Err...there's some reasonably complex setup there that they've smoothed out. The onboarding for a new Chromecast is flawless; you plug it in, type in your Wi-fi password and off it goes. Good design doesn't get in your way; it lets you do what you need to do, fast. The affordances for casting anything from your phone or tablet are obvious, and everything "just works". That's pretty darn good design, backed up by monstrously talented engineering to execute it well.

> This one gained popularity when promising a whopping for free 1Gb was crazy good offer.

I did point this out in my post. Other email providers quickly caught up though; Yahoo mail started offering 100MB that same year (2004) then soon increased it to 1GB[1]. So it wasn't the storage that made people stay. It was (as other people have pointed out) a more responsive interface, fast searching, conversation threads, and (IMO) integrated Google Chat.

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yahoo!_Mail#2004_Updates


In what way is Chrome "kinda borderline"?

If you mean borderline in terms of success, there are only four or five meaningfully used web browsers. Of those, Chrome has the largest desktop and mobile marketshare, respectively.[1]

If you mean borderline in terms of Google's ability to release a product that appeals to a sense of usability and design aesthetic instead of just raw technical excellence, I would say that Chrome handily accomplishes that. In my opinion, the Chrome user interface very clearly resonates well with people, and one of the biggest reasons for its continued success is Google's understanding of what users want and how they like the use web browsers, not just Chrome's capabilities and performance.

Web browsers have a lot of surface area for "user interaction", and I think Chrome's interface really streamlines a lot of what people organically do when they're browsing. It's not just excellence under the hood, it's a studiousness that carries over into empowering users. As a specific example: I don't think that Chrome is a technically superlative application platform, but the ability to use it as a platform for running other apps has made life much easier on Linux when there are no native apps for certain things.

_______________

1. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_web_browsers#...


In a way that I am not sure whether Chrome success (which is undeniable) happened because of its technology merits or its UX. It is hard for me to decide because significant part of UX interaction is supplied by extensions, for which I am not sure where they go. But I am OK with putting Chrome into the column of "good UX". I still feel it's rather exception than a rule.


Chrome was the first browser to pare down the browser chrome: svelte tabs, no title bar and even small touches like not immediately resize the tabs soon after closing one so you could rapidly click on 'x' N times and close N tabs without moving your mouse. Chrome did not just have good UX, it had excellent UX that set trends that inspired changes to Firefox[1] and IE.

1. https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=465086


If you think the defining characteristic of google search is that it is 'driven by algorithms' you are massively underestimating it.

Search is the problem of understanding what a person is looking for, and finding a resource which provides it. That is 100% about people and human factors. There's a reason why people look at google search frequencies to understand social trends; why we read meaning into the 'suggested search completions' google provides for certain terms; why an unfortunate first-placed search result for a term can make global news headlines. Search is so much more than an algorithmic problem.


Not entirely sure I agree but talking to your point:

Doesn't this support the idea that Google needs to improve their people-interaction? And one way to do that is to hire for people who are better at it?


Not necessarily -- there's an argument to focus on their comparative advantage and not bother wasting energy improving their people-interaction (something they are comparatively bad at).


Yes, fair point. Although the parent seemed to be arguing that it was the human interaction that was holding them back.


I would say their search engine definitely has improved to the point you no longer need "google-fu" and can just type in a question as if you were asking an all knowing Oracle. So yes, I think they now have a deep understanding of how humans think and articulate...


> So yes, I think they now have a deep understanding of how humans think and articulate...

True. But what I think the grandparent was getting at is that some people see Google as having a bad track record understanding how humans interact. See also: messenger fragmentations - Allo vs Duo vs Hangouts...


First of all failure of the Google+ shows absolutely nothing important for this discussion. Secondly it's just your personal opinion that the Android is ugly.

Anyway, how can you even compare UX/UI design decisions with the companies ability to handle work-place environment and stuff diversity?

So yes... You are wrong like lightyears away wrong.


> First of all failure of the Google+ shows absolutely nothing important for this discussion.

Depends on what you mean by "this discussion". The manifesto which originated it - certainly not. The broader point raised about interaction between technology and sociological/humanitarian aspect of technology - I think yes.

> Secondly it's just your personal opinion that the Android is ugly.

It's not about "ugly", it's about... being very engineer-like in it's UI? As for my personal opinion, I don't mind it that much - I live in command line, after all. But I kinda learned that UI that engineer is comfortable with and UI that end-user is comfortable with are somewhat different things...

> Anyway, how can you even compare UX/UI design decisions with the companies ability to handle work-place environment and stuff diversity?

I don't and I think you completely misunderstood my point. Or, more precisely, you completely understood nothing about my point. I'm sorry I couldn't explain it better.


Another choice quote from a little further down:

> If someone told you that engineering was a field where you could get away with not dealing with people or feelings, then I’m very sorry to tell you that you have been lied to.

This industry seems to have a problem with socially maladjusted young men who actually believe this. Then when the reality of their careers doesn't match the tech-shut-in fantasia, they lash out, like the manifesto author has done.


I came across a lot of socially maladjusted geniuses. If you try to put them in the wrong environment with the wrong assignments, bad stuff happens.

If you are able to manage them well, and let them do low level technical stuff, you can get amazing things out of them.


It seems like a disservice to society to isolate and protect antisocial software geniuses just because you might be able to get good work out of them.


Why?


Well, presumably other people in the organization would have to work with them, and that is hardly fair to those other people.


Depends on those other people. I've worked with plenty of those people, and most of the time they can get along really well with other technical people, but not at all with all kinds of project managers, functional analysts, sales people, etc.

If you make sure they only need to interface with other technical people, they can work pretty well in such an environment. And the technical colleagues sometimes like working with geniuses where they can learn a lot from.


I guess there's a difference between being a socially awkward or kinda "crusty" software genius and being an actively anti-social and/or sociopathic software genius. Maybe I'm just thinking of the typical "high performing asshole" that Bob Sutton writes about.

Nobody, even other technical people, deserves to work with assholes. Period.


Then Google itself doesn't "get it", given how their interview process values technical qualities above all else.


Google's interview process is to guarantee basic technical competency. However you cannot reliably gauge social competency in a 4-hour interview: that's why Google will later look at the evaluation by your coworkers to determine your promotion.

Before joining armchair HR quarterbacking, it might help you to consider that Google is one of the most successful IT companies and the post you read is by a successful and well-respected ex-Googler. If you can think up something in 30 seconds, they've thought about that.


This is the opposite of what Google looks for in an engineer.

They look for basic social competency but technical excellence.

I think you got the wrong impression from my post. I am not criticizing Google's HR department here. I am simply pointing out that it is in opposition to the medium article's assertions.


What Yonatan and the parent are saying is that what Google "looks for in an engineer" applies to what is possible to screen for during hiring, which is only the very start of your career at Google.

In your actual career at Google pure technical ability it is very little of what Google "looks for"; that's necessary but not sufficient at all. Very few engineers are promoted for pure technical prowess; more often it's a combination of technical ability and EQ, or even just EQ.

Mostly it's a function of impact, which requires getting shit done, which requires working well with others. The top engineers at Google (Jeff Dean, Sanjay, Yonatan, etc.) are known for being phenomenal mentors, managers, and leaders--not just phenomenal engineers.

It's easy to be cynical and focus on instances where this is not true, but in my experience I agree with the parent that on the whole Google is quite good at managing its engineering org. In a XX,XXX person engineering org you're going to have some anomalies. And those are the ones that make these sorts of manifestos that are picked up by the media. Remember that Michael O. Church also worked at Google for a while and had a similarly controversial impact during his time there (look it up if you're unfamiliar).

Source: I'm a xoogler.


> You have probably heard about the manifesto a Googler (not someone senior) 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.

This sets the tone for the entire article: An emotionally driven rant that refutes nothing and argues against a strawman.


And yet, it has 178 upvotes at the time of posting.


Similar things happen for most rants.


Because postmodernist and neomarxist ideas are appealing to idealists dreaming of utopia.

It's quite weird that an article with 0 citations, 0 proper rebuttals of arguments in the original manifesto gets so much attention. It is pure leftist circlejerk.

For example, show me a single study demonstrating proper effectiveness of unconscious bias training. HR departments in FB and Google have those. Studies of the effectiveness do not exist or show no effectiveness.

HR in many companies is comprised of leftist sociology, psychology majors who disregard results in their own fields which do not align with their equity for all philosophy.


[flagged]


We've banned this account for using HN primarily for political and ideological battle. Would you please not create accounts to do that with? It's not what the site is for.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

https://news.ycombinator.com/newswelcome.html


Would you please not use HN for ideological battle? It is not what the site is for, and we ban accounts that primarily do it.


We have to signal our virtue somehow.


This essay is just bad.

In section 1 the author presupposes that the facts presented in the original post are false (but then fluffs on presenting any evidence for this). Maybe he's right! If someone else writes that piece, it would be a valuable contribution.

In section 2 he writes about the social aspect of engineering, which certainly exists, but pretends that being engaged and interested in the technical side of things doesn't matter at all. Ignoring technical details while creating your planet-scale system is like trying to fly a C-130 in a vacuum.

Section 3 is straight bullying.


Section 3 is most troubling to me as well, even if I can mostly agree with some of his other points. I particularly enjoyed the notion of the manifesto's author being punched in the face while at work, and this being a reason Mr Zunger couldn't have other people working with him, rather than perhaps requiring those people not punch others in the face. In a different scenario this kind of attitude towards workplace violence might be labelled victim blaming.

As an aside, I always wonder whether people like Mr Zunger, who are seemingly so nonchalant in their casual dismissal of the use of violence against those they disagree with, have every had this kind of violence visited upon themselves. In an effort to be charitable, I'm going to assume it comes from a position of privilege and ignorance, rather than malice.


You realize that the "punch in the face" line is a philosophical point about how angry the author made people, right?

If someone did actually punch the author in the face they would (and should) be fired and charged with assault.


Hmm, I'm not a native English speaker, although I do consider myself fluent at this point, and I'm not terribly bright, so I fully admit I could be misinterpreting things, but the quote didn't seem particularly philosophical to me, it read quite literal. I suppose I might categorize it as hyperbole, although even in that case, I typically don't like the use of such hyperbole when it comes to violence. It has a habit of detracting from otherwise sensible points.


I agree it has clearly detracted from the point as this discussion shows.

But it's pretty important to realize that "punching someone in the face" is a crime, and no company can allow that.


Maybe you missed it, but there's been a distinct trend in America lately to suggest that violence can be OK in political contexts. I would not assume that the author was apeaking figuratively, because many authors who would likely agree with the author would not be.


Here here. "Punch a Nazi" is no longer figurative. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvmGWqFYBGk


I'm deeply troubled by the response to this "manifesto". Pitchforks are out for this guy, and when they find him, it won't be pretty. I think that's wrong. He has expressed his opinion, and people are free to confront, and denounce him all they want. But this guy might lose his job. His career. All for voicing his opinion. I don't think it matters that he did this internally. Had he stood up at a discussion in Palo Alto and said these words, the pitchforks would still be out. Our country has reached a dangerous fork in its evolution where the freedom to speak can literally ruin your life. There was a time when people were, and still are, shot for speaking their minds. Is this the natural evolution we are heading towards?


But this guy might lose his job. His career. All for voicing his opinion.

This has always been true and I can't understand how you would imagine it was ever otherwise.


I'm not sure if you're being defensive or cynical here. It's true that people have always lost their jobs and careers (sometimes lives!) for voicing unpopular opinions.

What's interesting is how people's moral judgment of that correlates with their sympathy for the particularly unpopular opinion in question. Lots of people lost their jobs and careers for voicing opinions that were sympathetic to Communism, and we call that "McCarthyism" and "a witch hunt". This guy loses his job and many of us would cheer for it.


I don't know that much about McCarthyism but I think it's safe to guess that you know less. It was considered a witch hunt because nobody cared about facts or evidence, the spectacle was the point. Victims we're persecuted because they were juicy, suceptible targets, not because of anything they did or didn't do.

The situation we're discussing here is pretty different.


> It was considered a witch hunt because nobody cared about facts or evidence, the spectacle was the point. Victims we're persecuted because they were juicy, suceptible targets, not because of anything they did or didn't do.

You're right--you don't know a lot about McCarthyism. The "Hollywood Ten" screenwriters who were blacklisted by the film industry (private employers making employment decisions!) were, in fact, members of the Communist Party USA, an organization that was directly controlled and financed by an adversarial world power. There was substance behind the spectacle.

As for people being accused of things without evidence--well, witness the people in this thread who keep repeating the lie that the author of the manifesto considers his women coworkers less capable than he is, the outright fantasizing in OP about the author getting punched in the face, etc. Looks pretty spectacular to me.


The "Hollywood Ten" screenwriters who were blacklisted by the film industry (private employers making employment decisions!) were, in fact, members of the Communist Party USA...

Yes, but 1) that was just the tip of the iceberg labelled "McCarthyism," and 2) even at the time, the issue wasn't that they had joined a political party, the issue was what that party proposed to achieve.

In the case of the Google's manifesto, I don't see anyone upset that the author holds an unpopular opinion or that he publicized his unpopular opinion; it's the content of the opinion itself that's at issue.

Both McCarthy himself and the Googler in question here tried to harm other people's careers by spreading untruths in a self-aggrandizing way. That seems like the most natural parallel to me.


Right. Firing at-will is legal. Firing on the basis of a protected class, such as race or gender, is grounds for a lawsuit.


It's going to get a lot worse, now that these people have been forced out of power in goverment, they will turn their eye to other things.


People keep claiming this, but I know not one single sexist developer who can't find a job. Not even the ones who actually, literally committed sexual assault: they are all still employed.

It is only possible to justify identifying with this asshoel by completely ignoring the harm his "speech" does to his company's culture while vastly over-inflating the consequences he is likely to face. If he had said, "programmers should sit down, shut up, stop whining and write what they are told" no one here would have a lick of sympathy for him getting canned.


> But this guy might lose his job. His career. All for voicing his opinion.

Perhaps you aren't employed in the United States: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At-will_employment

If you are in fact aware of this concept, then I really don't understand your hyperbole.


Maybe he should have thought about that before he posted it. The author of the medium article is right that the manifesto implies that a lot of coworkers are less capable.

It's a grey area though.


Where does he say that?

There are lots to say/critique on that manifest, but Yonatan's commentary piece is pure dishonest bile. Ironically it also strengthens the claim of an authoritarian regime at Google and its "our way or the highway" policy when facing discussions.

The piece is simply garbage. It was an ad hominem that attacks viewpoints the original author never presented, such as "... how women and men are intrinsically different and we should stop trying to make it possible for women to be engineers". Quite the opposite.


It's the obvious implication from stating that women are biologically prone to being inferior engineers, and that they should end diversity hiring programs.


I'd seriously like to know if the author meant this literally:

> a good number of the people you might have to work with may simply punch you in the face

If that's indeed the case, isn't that on itself a huge problem we should deal with? If someone is risking being a victim of physical violence on the workplace over disagreements on political positions we should be seriously concerned.


If a Google employee ever does get punched in the face by a fellow employee, he could use this line in a lawsuit alleging that Google has created a hostile workplace. A jury might not see this line as hyperbole. It was inconsiderate for this former senior Google employee to put his company in legal jeopardy.


Oh come on, it's obvious hyperbole. I wouldn't actually punch this guy in the face if I had to work with him, but I would certainly would silently wish I could.


Considering how often words are labeled violence today, it's bizarre that words about actual violence is hyperbole.


Lol, your comment makes it seem like it wasn't a hyperbole.


This is not a disagreement on political positions, this is a belief that women are inherently less capable than men at software engineering. It's a direct attack on the legitimacy and humanity of his coworkers. A disagreement over political positions would be if the author wrote a manifesto about the efficacy of sin taxes or nuclear treaties, not that his teammate Sandra is biologically inferior at her job and undeserving of it.


It's no different than a guy in the NBA wondering out loud if the bias towards men might have a biological component, so that even if the systemic barriers are removed, we might expect far different than 50/50 female/male in the NBA. But no one thinks that - it's obviously silly because physical attributes are so obvious.

So we'll use Wikipedia as a perfect summary of all the research on this topic: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_differences_in_intelligenc...

"significantly higher variance in male scores, resulting in more than twice as many men as women scoring in the top 2%."

But certainly that study and all the others are just wrong, or they're measuring the wrong thing and it's not applicable to software.

I dunno, perhaps the ratio should be 45/55 once the systemic bias is removed. Or maybe it's 55/45 - maybe the systemic bias is beyond terrible and males are worse at software and we've got it all backwards. Doesn't seem like there's anything supporting 50/50 other than some weird notion that everyone's not physically equal at all, but somehow our brains are.


I hate the high end examples, because people want to argue them. The case is also true the other way - there are more men at the bottom of the IQ scale. Can someone come up with a reason why an IQ test would make men appear more often in the bottom of IQ distributions?


Because of "significantly higher variance in male scores"


I have no evidence, only speculation, but it could be because boys do not receive the same type of nurture and care growing up compared to girls. As well as, anecdotally, being more likely to engage in dangerous (for the brain) activities and take less care of themselves. The last point manifests itself in many ways, but the most important one I can think of is diet.

Again, this is all conjecture and I don't know how I would go about finding the studies to link it together.


It's completely unreasonable to take a critique on hiring practices or a broad statement about demographics personally. I'm not going to take offense to the statement that men tend to be more aggressive than women. Likewise, if someone claims that Google's policy of favoring elite schools leads to hiring underqualified candidates, would Googlers from MIT suddenly be offended? Of course not. However, that's precisely what you're suggesting with women.


Would you take it personally if those statements were commonly used to explain why you don't make as much money as your co-workers? Why you're more likely to be neurotic?

Those sorts of demographic statements might be fine to you, because they're not being used to explain why any current discrimination practiced against you is actually fine.


It still shouldn't be offensive. If anything, it is more offensive to suggest that wage discrimination is caused by sexism because that's an attack on character. Indeed, a lot of men are hurt by the suggestion that they may be sexist. However, it obvious that such discussions are necessary.


These statements might be hurtful and counterproductive, but they are a reaction to other statements which are perceived as being simply disregarding the reality of things. I can understand somebody making them just for the sake of reminding others what he thinks reality is. You can imagine plenty of situation in which the truth is ugly and hurts everybody- is that a good reason to let people do all sorts of intellectual contortionism just to avoid mentioning it?

On the other hand, any female engineer in Google earns more than I do, and deservedly so. I don't work at Google and I strongly doubt I'd pass their interviews.


> this is a belief that women are inherently less capable than men at software engineering

Should we therefore assume that women are equally capable as men at running the 100 meters, or at playing football? Don't get me wrong, I'm a male and probably half the women my age run faster than me or play football better than I do. But you know that this doesn't generalise: on average, men are faster runners and better football players. And you're ready to admit that because the thing is unequivocally measurable. Nonetheless, you consider any statement about gender differences that are not as easily measured as unthinkable and unacceptable. How is that?

edit: downvoters, please care to answer my question. I'm interested in your opinion.


At the end of the day, not a single answer. Good.


Would you please not post this sort of meta dross? That includes adding references to downvotes in your comments. For a substantive comment, all of this stuff needs to be edited out.


Is there any other professional industry as politically divided and toxic as tech has become?

Is there any other industry in which private companies shove their "values" down the throats of their employees in the manner we experience in tech?


Academia. Not an industry, but still a field of professional activity.


And Susan Fowler said academia is more sexist than tech. Which one is more liberal? https://twitter.com/susanthesquark/status/880949030900989953...)


This is absolutely true.


When I worked at a large bank we had mandatory classes in the company values, and adherence to the values was explicitly measured in annual appraisals.


It's just American and silicon valley tech. Not world-wide.


Game development, though that's still tech. The cause may be that these fields are mainly formed of young Americans who have recently been through the marxist training camps known as university.


Arguably politics is a profession. Just look at recent elections in the US and the UK to see how nasty it can get.


It's just embarrassing at this point that an engineer at a well known company like Google even thinks like this. (The original author, not Yonatan.)

Reading the original manifesto felt like something my 17-year-old self would write. Too clever and completely oblivious at the same time.


No, Yonatan Zunger is the one who should be embarassed. He lies in his very first paragraph, setting up a straw man which is consistently relied upon throughout the piece.

The original manifesto is thoughtful, articulate, thorough, and sincere. It provides a basis for dialog, discussion, and disagreement. Zunger's article is mostly a pile of fallacious rhetoric that by chance raises a few interesting ideas that could be twisted into a legitimate counter-argument to a couple of the manifesto's points if you tried really hard.


I understood the original manifesto's main argument to be against intentional, institutional discrimination (e.g. affirmative action) -- with many supporting points.

I don't know what's shameful about that (unless you're referring to something else). He did seem to value gender equality in the sense that men and women should be valued and respected equally (unless I'm reading into it).


Except for the fact that it implies that men are in higher, more well paid positions because of inherent biological traits.

If you truly believe people are equal and deserving of equal treatment then you must see a society where white men are the most powerful, most privileged class, as a failure of society.

The author cannot claim to believe in equality and then go on to justify inequality with biological traits.


There's zero evidence that people are equal. Physically, everyone knows and admits this. Women are given separate physical contests as they are smaller, slower, and weaker than men. Certain races do better in some sports - no one can make a fuss, as it's obvious, plus whites aren't the ones usually dominating.

Yet all of a sudden when it comes to mental pursuits (which are physically based in the brain and supporting chemicals), somehow then we're all equally capable and the huge biases that exist when using other organs don't exist. And not only don't exist, but so obviously don't exist that anyone suggesting so is met with "I'm literally shaking".

There seems to be nothing more to the diversity drive than "I want it to be so". I'm not saying it's all fine how it is, but pretending the population should be reflected perfectly is baseless.

Further, he points out diversity only goes one way. If there's too much white male, then it needs fixing. But if white males are underrepresented, then that's fine. It's like that review of the 90% black cast of Black Panther: "Hella diverse!"

Same for pointing out if you're hiring for diversity and lowering standards for "diverse" hires, you're making it worse for everyone.

And as he mentions, this diversity usually isn't. Hiring a bunch of people with the same views but making sure their skin tones or gender identity fill up a big list... Doesn't give you any useful diversity of thought at all.

Being intellectually dishonest and acting existentially offended when someone points out the obvious is why the left is losing out, slowly. And it sucks because the backlash is likely to hurt civil rights and progress.


Diversity is about giving people equal opportunity. The core sentiment is that in the work place, in social environments, people should have equal access to show that they can excel to the best of their ability.


Having diversity goals/quotas isn't equal opportunity (see medical admissions being way more strict on Asians than blacks). Plus, as the original doc points out, it's one sided. Underrepresentation of whites/males is fine. No one says hey, there's too many minorities. Just like no one cares that police almost exclusively kill men, with only a handful of women.

Why do they aim for a 50/50 gender balance? What if women are actually better in some roles, and it should be 40/60? Why can't this even be questioned?

The funny thing is, I dunno if I believe the original doc author, but I find the response so abhorrent I end up against it.

Google's response should have been "good but flawed questions. Here are studies, here's how we're going about determining diversity's impact etc".

Instead we get people who are gonna quit if he isn't fired, think he should be escorted off premise immediately, write pages misconstruing what was written, and are physically "shaking" at the thought someone might question their beliefs.

It sucks because there are systemic issues, and the current diversity nonsense does nothing about it and won't even try to make it's main case.

I'm hoping some groups will publish serious research on the issue. (Rust has a huge diversity push, iirc. They should also run some non diverse programs then compare results.)


Diversity quotas are not the same thing as promoting diversity.

I support promoting equal opportunity for all races and genders, not race based quotas.

There is a huge difference between the two things.


> Yet all of a sudden when it comes to mental pursuits (which are physically based in the brain and supporting chemicals), somehow then we're all equally capable and the huge biases that exist when using other organs don't exist. And not only don't exist, but so obviously don't exist that anyone suggesting so is met with "I'm literally shaking".

It's not "mental pursuits," it is that our society rewards men the most for excelling in fields which are created and controlled by men. When the majority of CEOs, leadership and top government positions are taken by men, it's going to be easier for men to keep gaining and holding those positions. Women will and do face more discrimination trying to enter these fields purely because they are women.

By creating a space for women to excel, by trying to fight the pay gap, and by trying to get women into leadership, we are not discriminating against men.

I'm not saying that our society, as it stands, should reflect the population perfectly. I am saying that our society needs to change to treat its population equally. And in doing so our tech companies, governments and other industries will change too. For the better.

> Same for pointing out if you're hiring for diversity and lowering standards for "diverse" hires, you're making it worse for everyone.

No one is "lowering standards" for diverse hires. No one. Why are you even implying this?

> And as he mentions, this diversity usually isn't. Hiring a bunch of people with the same views but making sure their skin tones or gender identity fill up a big list... Doesn't give you any useful diversity of thought at all.

All I got from his manifesto on this was he wants more people who think like him. His manifesto argues for less diversity, if anything.

> Being intellectually dishonest and acting existentially offended when someone points out the obvious is why the left is losing out

It's not taking offence, it is surprise that so many people are still willing to argue for inequality and are blind to the extreme imbalances of our society.


>No one is "lowering standards" for diverse hires. No one. Why are you even implying this?

Without wading into the general content of the manifesto, I haven't had the time to read it, and while not directly regarding hiring, there is at least one good example where the quest for a more diverse pool has lead to differing standards being applied, namely university entrance. From the stats I've seen, Asians in the US are fairly strongly penalized with regards to the grades and test scores they need to achieve in order to gain entrance to top universities when compared to their White, African American, or Hispanic counterparts. It certainly seems to me that the standards have been lowered for non-Asians in this area, and while I make no claim of this also occurring in the hiring process, I also don't think it's an unfair question to ask seeing as it seems quite widespread in university admittance.


Exactly. Here's acceptance data[1]. Blacks with a GPA of 3.4+ and MCAT of 36+ have an acceptance rate near 100%. For Asians, the acceptance rate is far lower. Just open the two races' PDFs and tab between them. I'm sorta surprised they even publish this, considering how bad it looks.

But maybe there's an alternative explanation, like smaller sample size, or Asians being less likely to be well rounded candidates, or maybe it's flat-out race quotas.

1: https://www.aamc.org/data/facts/applicantmatriculant/157998/...


The article isn't saying there is no discrimination though. It's just saying we shouldn't assume discrimination is the only factor we don't have 50% 50% representation in engineering. The author very much believes that we have cultural issues going on as well. This fact seems to be either misunderstood or deliberately ignored by a lot of people. But I can understand why.


>No one is "lowering standards" for diverse hires.

Google fast-tracks diversity candidates simply because they are diversity candidates. Other candidates must reach a higher standard to be fast-tracked.


That is not "lowering standards" for diversity candidates. It is giving them more opportunities to be measured up to Google's high standards.


It is lowering the standard for a certain kind of treatment. Whether or not that is justified or relevant to the hiring decision is a separate discussion. A standard is lowered. Full stop.


You are changing the argument.

The original use of the phrase "lowering standards" implied that Google would forgo hiring someone of high skill to hire a lower skilled but more diverse candidate. This is not happening.

Diverse candidates are given more opportunities to have their skill tested, but they must meet the same requirements as anyone else.


One of the demons hiding in this issue is the is/ought fallacy. People go from is to ought quite readily in these areas.

Let's say blacks really are on average better at basketball. Does it then follow that whites and asians ought not play basketball?

Nobody argues that because it's silly. (Or do they? I'm not in pro ball.)

People do argue that women should not be in tech. Women in tech regardless of ability get creeped on and treated like they don't know anything. I've met more than one with a fake male avatar on programming sites to ask questions, etc.

People are agitating for diversity in certain fields like tech, government, business, etc. because they are trying to reform fields with discriminatory cultures. If basketball had a culture that actively looked down on, excluded, and hazed whites then I would advocate doing something to challenge that.

I agree that trying to argue for a level of phenotypic equality that does not exist is a losing strategy but I get the motivation. I also have trouble thinking of another way to challenge these issues that doesn't involve taking a battering ram to a culture.


The original doc doesn't argue women shouldn't be in tech, so it is irrelevant what some people suggest. It argues a 50/50 parity might not exist in part due to biology.

What if it turns out that one gender is on avg smarter but with less range of intelligence (with some magically perfect measurement of intelligence, to avoid claims of test bias). So if that was true, would we THEN be OK with other than 50/50 split in higher-intelligence games? I think to the people getting upset here, the very thought that this is even possible to examine is heresy.

All that Google would have to do is admit 50/50 isn't based on anything hard, and commit to finding out what the real number should be. They won't do that though because the thought offends them. And so they'll shriek racist/sexist/etc. and it'll be just as effective as it was at stopping Brexit and Trump.


You are correct that the doc does not argue this. I'm arguing that the doc's author fails to understand the purpose of diversity measures. They are not to make people equal but to challenge culture. Only CRISPR/CAS9 or similar could actually alter biologically based inequality.

That being said I'm very skeptical of an innate gender disadvantage in coding. Some of the earliest coders were women back when it was considered a "secretarial" pursuit, then the field flipped to nearly all male. I also agree that this field's culture is very, very misogynistic. I've seen it. An attractive woman in tech gets ignored intellectually and then covered with creeper drool.

I am personally on the fence about these types of diversity measures, not because I don't think culture should be challenged but because I am not convinced they work. Trouble is I can't think of any other ways. Culture is generally impervious to reason.


I think out of all the comments in this thread, this, so far, is the one that speaks differently.

Diversity in Tech is indeed about changing the culture. That should be the central reply to this manifesto. Both the manifesto and the negative responses to it are missing this central point - they are focusing it as being about employment hiring about aptitude and worthiness of the job. It's why a call for meritocracy is not an adequate response to a call for diversity. Perhaps this element of culture needs to be explained more by people talking about it, on both sides.

When you look at it from that angle it's more understandable that the common response is that "you're part of the problem" when someone attempts to discuss these issues because it's erroneously seen as being part of the culture that they are seeking to remove. It's been seen as an attempt to negate the errors in the culture.

To reply to a response about being sexist when you wish to discuss diversity would be to focus on the ability that it is possible to talk about gender etc whilst also being a good respectful employee. That it's possible not be a "douche" and work with women and also be an out of the closet Republican or a devout Christian at the same time. That it's acknowledged that many women have a hard time in tech and that the culture can be changed for the better of everyone, and that discussion how it can be changed is a discussion open to everyone.


If the various diversity initiatives were about culture... but they aren't. How culturally diverse is a 50/50 gender split along with a great match to general population racial percentages? I'd say you can't tell. Culture is more than gender and race.


> All that Google would have to do is admit 50/50 isn't based on anything hard, and commit to finding out what the real number should be.

It is based on something hard—the gender distribution in the population.


But not the gender distribution of people who are qualified to work in the field. If we want gender parity in employment, we need gender parity in graduating classes. Trying to have one without the other is a ridiculous endeavor.


Not to mention, gender parity in willingness to immigrate or move across the country.


> People do argue that women should not be in tech

At least pretend that you don't have a completely blinkered view of the world.


Really? I've read several screeds arguing against women in the workforce in the past few years.


Except for the fact that it implies that men are in higher, more well paid positions because of inherent biological traits.

His point is quite clearly based on statistical reasoning, not absolutes. He makes this point blatantly clear when he makes the point about salary negotiations.

He says that people with high agreeableness have more trouble negotiating than people with low agreeableness. Because high agreeableness is statistically more common among women, this is treated as a gender issue when it is quite clearly a personality issue. If you're going to consider this a problem, why not address agreeableness directly? Why frame it as a gender issue that ignores both agreeable men and disagreeable women?


The manifesto author is arguing for equality of opportunity.

It's possible to have this and end up with different outcomes because of differing abilities or priorities.

Also, Whites are _underrepresented_ in tech relative to their percentage of the population.

edit: The parent edited their comment to remove the "white" qualifier from "men".


And women are much more severely underrepresented in tech. So why argue against fixing that? It will simply make the tech industry better.


This is a strawman. Neither I nor the manifesto author has argued in favor of sexism.

Why did you call out "white men" in an article about representation at Google? It doesn't make any sense when white people are underrepresented at Google.

edit: Now the parent has edited their comment to remove "in favor of sexism".


Here is where the author argues for sexism (from his TL;DR)

> Differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don't have 50% representation of women in tech and leadership. Discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive, and bad for business.

The implication here is that equal representation of women at Google is bad for business. That women aren't in tech and leadership positions because of biological traits.

This is sexism.

Right here. This point and its thorough embedding in every aspect of the article.


> The implication here is that equal representation of women at Google is bad for business. That women aren't in tech and leadership positions because of biological traits.

This is an incomplete picture of what that statement says. It does not say that 50% representation would necessarily be bad for business, but that discriminating against men to achieve this goal would be bad for business.


Helping others succeed and building a diverse environment is not discriminating against men.


Having an agenda of hiring and promoting women over men is discriminating against men. Very few people dispute this happens.


No it is not discriminating against men. It is fighting existing discrimination against women. Women are already discriminated against in these fields, to try to stop that we have to encourage them to participate. Because it is Really Hard to join an industry or field where you are discriminated against.


I can't emphasise enough that this is not discrimination.

Discrimination is the "unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people."

Google only has finite resources. Diverting them to assist the oppressed class (women) is not discrimination against the dominant class (men). It is simply a way to correct for existing discrimination against women.


As someone who takes these kinds of larger social issues fairly seriously, and supports many efforts to correct the long lasting effects of discrimination, I think viewing this issue in such a binary fashion(that is that women as a class are oppressed and men are the oppressors) is both incorrect and unhelpful to the cause you seem to be supporting. Privilege, oppression, and discrimination exist over multiple overlapping spectrums. The notion that in a country like the US white women(due to their being women) are somehow oppressed by black men(due to their being men) is both incorrect, and quite frankly, somewhat insulting. You will not win any allies to your cause by framing these very important issues in such a binary, and unnuanced way.


I don't think the original author argued against fixing it, I think he advocated different approach to fixing it, based on different understanding of what "it" is.


By eliminating programs intended to help increase diversity, by "de-emphasising empathy" and by making Google more of a safe space for people with viewpoints similar to his own. Got it!


> By eliminating programs intended to help increase diversity

The key words here are "intended to". There's a difference between doing something and intending to do something. Unfortunately, intending to do something is sometimes not enough to actually do something - you also have to do it in the right way, otherwise you might intend to do one thing and instead do another thing.

> de-emphasising empathy

Not the best sound-bite, which of course means it will get quoted a lot. Happens to techies, not all of them are good writers, yet less of them can write a text that would be robust under hostile interpretation. The point, however, was to use data instead of feel-good anecdotes.

> making Google more of a safe space for people with viewpoints similar to his own

What's wrong with making Google more safe for people working there?


But if the biological innate differences exist, why must they be disregarded?


> If you truly believe people are equal and deserving of equal treatment then you must

The two don't follow, at all. Lets replace this statement, and make it about the NBA.

"If you truly believe people are equal and deserving of equal treatment then you must see a game where black men hold the vast majority of positions as a failure of the game".

If the NBA example should be laughed at, why shouldn't the opposite? Neanderthals don't exist anymore, but homo sapiens do, despite very little relative advantage to us. Small differences in averages between groups will lead to dramatically different results. For the best example of all, see casinos (advantage: 2-4%) versus gamblers.


Are you serious? Of course it doesn't make sense if you change my words to be about the NBA.

Look at the government. The majority of the US government leadership is older white males.

Either you think: wow, white males are really good at getting into top government positions. Old white males must be superior to other humans.

Or you think: society really gives an advantage to older white males and it's much easier for them to get into government. Maybe power structures are balanced in their favour?

(Hint: the latter is true. The author of the article thinks along the lines of the former, that's why it's sexist and discriminatory and people are upset by it.)


Or maybe it's both? After eliminating incorrect biases, perhaps we'd find top leadership to be 60/40 male/female. Or even 40/60 (I'd be surprised but hey).

Maybe women have a higher avg IQ but a smaller standard deviation. Then what?

I'm only taking issue with the sacrosanct idea that every mind is equal and that we should expect proportional representation in everything that's not obviously physically biased like sports. (How the brain isn't physical is still an open question.)


Or maybe IQ itself favours only certain types of intelligence and the test is fundamentally flawed because it simplifies intelligence into something that distorts our understanding of it?

How long did we think women performed more poorly with spatial reasoning tasks? Then we realised cultural gender inequality was the culprit, not biological traits [1].

The original author continues to propagate the harmful idea that women aren't making it because of biology, when there is no evidence to support that biology is the reason. And you seem to believe the same thing, despite the science in this area changing and even reporting the opposite results.

[1] https://arstechnica.com/uncategorized/2008/06/why-judy-cant-...


So if Google was serious, they'd attempt to measure productivity or coding performance, then apply IQ (and other) tests. They can take rigorous approaches to find out the truth, rather than operating off of feelings.


So, to make it clear: you are arguing that discrimination would be ok if you can prove it is effective?

(I'm sure I don't need to point out on this forum how difficult it is to measure productivity or coding performance. AFAIK there are no measures of this which are effective outside controlled conditions, and controlled conditions are close to irrelevant for actually being effective at a job)


Uh, yes? I'm saying if we somehow magically determined that group A had 10% benefit than group B at a task, then we should expect to see more of group A represented, even if their populations are equal.

Exactly like we expect to see certain phenotypes over-represented in basketball.

Despite the difficulty, saying it's hard but it just must be true that everyone's equal doesn't seem like a robust approach. Or is Google saying it just has zero way of evaluating a person's work? Perhaps they could do blinded code reviews or something.


Uh, yes?

I think you mean "no" here, right? Because discrimination means making decisions based on gender, not on individual characteristics.

Also your other comments seem to means you support Google's pro-diversity approach then, right?

They aim to give equal opportunities to a more diverse set of people. They don't force hiring from under-represented classes.


I'm saying discrimination, meaning non-equal results, is fine. I don't think there should be any active discrimination, and incorrect unintentional discrimination should also be removed.


I'm saying discrimination, meaning non-equal results

I think you may want to reconsider the word you use for that, because that isn't a widely shared definition.

To be clear, when you say "discrimination.. [snip] is fine" most people hear that as "making hiring or promotion decisions based sorely or primarily on the gender of the person is fine". That's what the dictionary definition is too.

This isn't discrimination, and (almost) no one says it is. Unequal outcomes have many sources, and provided they are non-discriminatory that's defensible.

The issues arise when unequal outcomes occur and no one can agree on the cause, because there is a (very good) chance that there is an inequality of opportunity somewhere in the process.

I suspect there is a miscommunication here and your defense of the possibility of unequal outcomes is being confused by the wording.


I think the other person with which you are speaking is communicating clearly enough without your help on what the definition of words are supposed to mean.


I am constantly amazed that "society" means America. Also, that all the examples are always how white majority countries have white majority X. What about China? What about Indonesia? What about Malaysia, where there is a lot of racial diversity?

Americans think their country is the world. Trust me, you are definitely less than 5% of the world population-wise, even if you are ~25% of nominal world GDP.

It is really sad how insular Western culture has become, and weird in an industry and era where the biggest tech IPO was Chinese.


I am not American. But I do live in a western society.

The author of the manifesto lives in a western society. So I'm discussing society with respect to our experiences.

I'm not sure how your comment relates. There are other societies in the world, I agree.


> It's just embarrassing at this point that an engineer at a well known company like Google even thinks like this. (The original author, not Yonatan.)

Is this not exactly the sort of reaction that the author is speaking against when he refers to "viewpoint diversity"?


I'm sure the women who work with him love that his "viewpoint diversity" considers them to be more neurotic, less able to deal with stress, and less suited to the high demands of a senior Google engineering role than himself!


Not than himself. Than men.

You understand how Gaussian distributions work, yes?


You and I are not reading the same manifesto. This guy clearly thinks less of the women he works with. There is no way he sees his female co-workers as equal while publishing rubbish like this. And I doubt women engineers at Google would read that and feel very pleased about it.

Yeah I understand Gaussian distributions. I also understand the emotional tone of the original manifesto and the discriminatory thinking behind it disguised in its academic, reasonable, and rational voice.


>This guy clearly thinks less of the women he works with

Can you cite the part of the manifesto which made you reach this conclusion?

>I doubt women at Google would feel pleased about that

Why? I didn't see anything insulting or disrespectful in the article. Perhaps your mind filled in things not said?

For example: I openly admit that I suck at empathy. I am socially awkward, I have hard time relating to other people. I may have EDD.

Not only do I recognize that women are better at it I prefer female managers to male managers because all my female managers innately understood psychological safety. And fostered such culture.

Is it anecdotal? Yes. But it is consistent with the author's observations that we are different. It is consistent with the Big Five personality trait studies in psychology.

So I think shutting down this line of reasoning is effectively an attempt to block attempts at better understanding of what makes us different.

And yet if we actually understand each person's strengths AND weaknesses we will be able to build better organisations!


I think Asians are generally shorter than me. But if a 6'2 Asian is standing next to me, I don't think that particular person is shorter than me.

It's perfectly reasonable for him to say the 50/50 ratio might not be ideal, and maybe biology plays a role, while still believing his colleagues are competent.


The trouble is that, whilst it's easy to determine whether or not the person stood next to you is shorter than you, competence is something far harder to assess. If your opinion is 'women are, on average, less competant', it would seem more likely than not that your default position would assume the woman stood next to you is less competent.


Not quite - if it's not a random person standing next to me, but someone also working in the area, I'd assume that the filtering has eliminated people less competent (if not, then we'd already be at 50/50 equality). To be concrete, I'd assume that any engineer at Google to be about the same competence as their peers. Though it sounds like if you're "diverse" you might have an easier time of getting in, similar to medical school? (Honest question.)

At any rate, how do we get to the facts? Saying it must be 50% by fiat doesn't seem like a way to truth. So far I see one side proposing there might be biological reasons and the other side being offended anyone could even suggest the possibility.


It would also seem that if we actively prohibit this line of enquiry we will never actually learn to accurately measure "competence" or "empathy", let alone enable humans to recognize those traits in others.

Measurement is key to understanding!

About the only "lie" in this debate (in so far as I can tell) is that we are all the same!

Sure - at some very high level of abstraction it may be "true". But as engineers, surely we understand that failure stems from false assumptions?


This does not seem as much of a trouble as having a preferential hiring policy for some classes of people and then having the ability of these people doubted not just at the hiring time but through their entire career.

To wit: I am a foreigner living and working as a software engineer in the USA. My English is far from perfect and a lot of people assume I am dumb just because of my thick accent. I failed few interviews because of this. I have absolutely no problem with that and am happy with my career. My achievements speak for me. I would not be as happy if this had been made a "diversity" issue and people with heavy accent were given advantages in hiring. This would forever invalidate my achievements as a proof of my competence. I would actively oppose any moves to establish such policies and would not approach any company that had them in place.


People have suggested that the manifesto's author is autistic. If this is true, then it is very possible that if you are not familiar with how autistics' think you will not be able to judge his mental state based on the emotional tone of his writing.


So you have a study which refutes this? He's made a claim, you are just making an appeal to emotion! Show that there are no differences between men and women on these scales, or that the whole science behind the idea is sketchy (which I've seen arguments of) but please, pretty please, some evidence.


Random software engineers don't tend to be experts in social psychology and sociology. Maybe the thing to do is to defer to experts in those fields rather than trying to parse through the literature with no experience whatsoever?


Oh because he linked to so many studies in his manifesto? He didn't.

Read his footnotes. They basically say "this is true because I know it to be true," and "this is universally accepted" (it isn't). But he gets a pass on that, sure.


From the Gizmodo article[1], "The text of the post is reproduced in full below, with some minor formatting modifications. Two charts and several hyperlinks are also omitted." The several hyperlinks are probably his sources.

[1] https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2017/08/exclusive-heres-the-full-...


You are here trying to persuade me, at least I assume that is the goal, you could just be here trolling I guess. To try to persuade by claiming you are as bad as everyone else seems, unpersuasive?

You seem to think there are two sides: for or against. I have the ability to be against EVERYONE, don't I? Neither side can be convincing, or one side can. As it stands, you are just as unconvincing as the other side, which is hardly a great position!

So, seeing as you have a strong opinion, as evidenced by about 400,000,000,000 posts in this thread, do you have any evidence to support your ideas and refute what you seem to think is a bad piece? Or should I continue to be unpersuaded by both sides?


Fair enough. I'll do some homework.

Here [1] is an article on how cultural gender inequality leads to poorer maths results for women, and fixing that cultural inequality fixes the maths results. This was commonly attributed to differences in biological traits in the past, that was wrong.

Here [2] is another article where spatial abilities relate to societal roles. Another area commonly attributed to biological differences (and which the author of the manifesto still seems to believe).

I've linked to Arstechnica articles because they are good summaries and reference the sources.

Notice that the trend here is that we misattributed something to biological differences and then science showed us that things were more fluid than we initially thought. That attribution to biological differences propagated extremely harmful beliefs that still seem to resonate, though.

[1] https://arstechnica.com/uncategorized/2008/06/why-judy-cant-...

[2] https://arstechnica.com/science/2011/08/gender-gap-in-spatia...


Here [1] is an article on how cultural gender inequality leads to poorer maths results for women, and fixing that cultural inequality fixes the maths results.

That is an interesting study which demonstrates the opposite of what you seem to think it does. Here's the PDF: https://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/faculty/sapienza/htm/sc.... It shows that the as cultural inequality decreases, the relative performance of girls rises in both math where they end up about equal to boys, and reading where they end up even further ahead. Take the sum of the gap values in the first chart; they're all between 40 and 60 except for Iceland which is over 70. (Edit: no, I'm bad at math. Iceland's relative gap is about 50 as well).

So if you point to the more equal math scores as proof that there are no innate differences between boys and girls, you now have to explain why the reading scores become even more unequal with increased gender equality. Is it just that Norway and Sweden are hotbeds of discrimination against boys?


Alright, I'll bite. But, I've never heard of any research suggesting women have a different cognitive capacity than men. I read some research a number of years ago suggesting cross-culturally women had better language skills than men, but I don't know if this is still considered to be true.

I can't remember reading anything in the manifesto which suggested women are less capable as software engineers. The essay did suggest women were less interested in programming than men (obviously true - see enrolment figures) and that at least some of the effect size is due to biological factors (probably true - see below).

---

None of these links suggest any capacity difference. Only that there is a biologically influenced gender difference in interests.

Here's an essay contextualising and summarising the historical specifics of male and female gender roles in society: http://www.denisdutton.com/baumeister.htm

Here's a study of how prenatal androgen effects psychological thing vs people orientation, and how it influences career choice: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166361/

A summary of studies looking at big 5 personality distributions and other effects. Of note is the long section describing blindspots in current research: "Gender Differences in Personality and Interests: When, Where and Why?" http://sci-hub.cc/10.1111/j.1751-9004.2010.00320.x

Here's a Dutch documentary where they send a camera crew around asking different researchers about gender differences: https://youtu.be/cVaTc15plVs?t=30m49s The full documentary is great. Their conclusion is that biological factors result in an overlapping but different distribution of personalities between men and women. These differences result in statistically different career preferences.

A talk by researcher Steven Pinker on the subject, where he argues that biological differences result in at least some of the effect size in STEM interests: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n691pLhQBkw&t=1057s This is part of a debate on the subject. (Not linked) Prof Elizabeth Spelke responds, but I found her argument to be much less convincing than Pinker. Watch both, make up your own mind.


> I can't remember reading anything in the manifesto which suggested women are less capable as software engineers.

It does suggest this:

> “I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes,”

Preferences and abilities. If men are in the majority of leadership, senior, and CEO roles, what is the author suggesting about the abilities of women?


He is suggesting that it's a difficult problem in a complex system and that it's likely that we don't understand all the factors at play? And that we need different perspectives in order to engage in the kind of constructive skepticism which ultimately leads to better understanding?

Making assertions, on the other hand... that suggests that we already know the answers; and that further scrutiny is not required.

The arrogance!


Finally some meat to the discussion. This thread is one of the few to actually dig into the matter. Kudos.


I'll admit that there are several problems with the Googler's manifesto. However, it's more embarrassing that the Medium writer chooses to attack a strawman instead of addressing the entire point of the manifesto in the first place.


I have this thing about reading footnotes first:

"I consider myself a classical liberal and strongly value individualism and reason."

I miss the days when libertarians weren't ashamed to admit so. But back then, they could debate the difference between von Mises and Hayek.

Today... not so much. Ideology isn't Book Deep, it's Google Search Deep.


In general, I see people self-identifying as "classic liberal" when they want to underscore that they're not ancap, and value strong (but limited in scope) governments to protect property rights.


It's a shame that people (especially propertarians and "classical liberals") seem to be more concerned about property rights than fostering individualism.


How do you get individualism if individuals can't own anything, including themselves?


I take the distinction between private and personal property to be important, as Proudhon and later Marx described.

>There are different kinds of property: 1. Property pure and simple, the dominant and seigniorial power over a thing; or, as they term it, naked property. 2. Possession. “Possession,” says Duranton, “is a matter of fact, not of right.” Toullier: “Property is a right, a legal power; possession is a fact.” The tenant, the farmer, the commandité, the usufructuary, are possessors; the owner who lets and lends for use, the heir who is to come into possession on the death of a usufructuary, are proprietors. If I may venture the comparison: a lover is a possessor, a husband is a proprietor.

https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/economics/proudho...

And to learn about why property is against individualism, I recommend Oscar Wilde's The Soul of Man Under Socialism and Bookchin's concerns: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/wilde-oscar/soul-...

Even the Stirnerian egoists take issue with private property: http://www.spunk.org/texts/intro/faq/sp001547/secF4.html


You don't even need to go for Marx to discover that distinction, or challenge the idea that property is a natural right. It was remarked upon by that renowned pinko commie, Thomas Jefferson:

"A right of property in moveable things is admitted before the establishment of government. A separate property in lands, not till after that establishment. The right to moveables is acknowledged by all the hordes of Indians surrounding us. Yet by no one of them has a separate property in lands been yielded to individuals. He who plants a field keeps possession till he has gathered the produce, after which one has as good a right as another to occupy it. Government must be established and laws provided, before lands can be separately appropriated, and their owner protected in his possession. Till then, the property is in the body of the nation, and they, or their chief as trustee, must grant them to individuals, and determine the conditions of the grant."

"It is a moot question whether the origin of any kind of property is derived from nature at all... It is agreed by those who have seriously considered the subject that no individual has, of natural right, a separate property in an acre of land, for instance. By an universal law, indeed, whatever, whether fixed or movable, belongs to all men equally and in common is the property for the moment of him who occupies it; but when he relinquishes the occupation, the property goes with it. Stable ownership is the gift of social law, and is given late in the progress of society."

(Note that these are slightly contradictory; I presented them in chronological order.)


What exactly are you implying?

Perhaps the author is simply not a libertarian. Not everyone who identifies themselves as "classically liberal" is. Some people others would describe as "conservative" use that label also.

I also don't see what using that term has to do with the author's debating ability. If anything, it's my experience that most people who use "classical liberal" have read all of those books and prefer to root themselves more in Burke's premises.


I no longer use libertarian for the same reason I hesitate to use atheist. Head over to the relevant subreddits. Last time I visited /r/libertarian I saw people advocating the flat Earth, and /r/atheism is a hate sub. Like it or not those who use a term color it. I try not to self identify with terms used by idiots and haters.


There are no libertarian issues involved in this kerfuffle. This is a corporation, a free association of people, and an individual. If Google wants to shitcan the OP, von Mises is silent on the subject. The big bad state of CA is silent on the subject as well. And I don't think any classical liberals would find a kindred spirit in him regardless of how he labels himself.

Also, he does say Stop alienating conservatives. So let's get that charade over with and just call him a conservative and dispense with any libertarian nonsense.


Your presumption is that only a conservative can be against alienating conservatives, and a true libertarian would be OK with whatever is done to conservatives - after all, he's not one, so who cares about those people?


You're kind've chasing your tail there. I wasn't aware that libertarians would be against alienating conservatives but then totally ok with alienating women because Hayek.


> I wasn't aware that libertarians would be against alienating conservatives

Because it's only not OK to alienate people who we agree with, but the idea of having civil discussion with people we disagree with... who needs that? Just call them names, chase them out and be done with it! Do you think this is the libertarian way? Where did you meet libertarians like these?

> then totally ok with alienating women because Hayek.

Err what? Who you are arguing with here? Nobody said it's "ok with alienating women" and Hayek has nothing to do with it. Could you please leave that strawman alone, he needs a well-deserved rest.


I do not hold libertarians in any high regard. I generally find that ism to be a flag of convenience and that would definitely be the case with the OP.

Again, the OP is concerned with Google alienating conservatives but then is completely oblivious to his alienating half of the population.

Because what? Would you prefer Edmund Burke?


> I do not hold libertarians in any high regard.

That's your problem but hardly an argument to anything.

> I generally find that ism to be a flag of convenience and that would definitely be the case with the OP.

You are definitely wrong on the first part, to the point of being insulting and disrespectful to literally millions of people holding genuine libertarian beliefs (what is especially ironic here that I assume with high probability that you think it somehow serves the case for inclusiveness and tolerance). As for the second part, I see no way you could have any useful information about it, unless you personally know the author and he told you so. Do you?

> Because what? Would you prefer Edmund Burke?

I am sorry, I do not understand this comment. Could you make your point a bit clearer, if there's any? What exactly you are trying to say here?

> completely oblivious to his alienating half of the population.

The goal of the author was certainly not alienating all women, and I think the result is also not so. I find it sad that I need to even mention it, but not all women think the same, and not all women agree on all questions, including this one. Of course, it may be that by "half of the population" you didn't mean women, then who?

I must also note that you yourself don't feel particularly bad about alienating literally tens of millions of people. Which is completely your right of course, just adds a bit of strange flavor when you say how bad it is when others do it.


yep. Some other article looked into some comments made by googlers discussing this 'manifesto' and the supporter comments could have come straight from 4chan.

Glad that a senior engineer speaks out about this. No company needs to tolerate troglodytes.

I work in finance and when something even fractionally as frivolous as this would have been published you would find yourself out of employment five minutes later. I consider the unprofessional startup culture that some companies like Google explicitly fostered to be at least partially responsible.


> (1) Despite speaking very authoritatively, the author does not appear to understand gender.

> I’m not going to spend any length of time on (1) ... I am neither a biologist, a psychologist, nor a sociologist, so I’ll leave that to someone else.

heh


Yeah, and somehow he knows it goes against nearly all research.

That manifesto is obviously inspired by recent rise in popularity of Jordan B Peterson. That guy is a very good psychologist.


I was thinking the same thing. There a lot of points he brought up that Peterson brings up, especially about neuroticism and conscientiousness.

Maybe a little of Sam Harris thrown in there too. I saw people in the comments on gizmodo freaking out about the point about avoiding empathy. It's a nuanced point that is completely lost on them that compassion can be a better trait than empathy.


Yeah that was my impression as well. He's been travelling the same Jordan Peterson/Sam Harris circuit I have. I could probably list the reasons but just his use of Big Five personality traits makes it highly likely.

I think to some extent this Googler may survive his effort to Larry Summer himself simply because his arguments are so familiar at this point. If he had actually said true things that hadn't already been circulating as a standard counter-narrative, he'd probably have fewer supporters and die on his cross.


He may be a good psychologist, but he frequently speaks on political issues in which he appears to be consistently misinformed, especially his conception on postmodernism, Marxism and the nature of proof[0].

[0] https://twitter.com/jordanbpeterson/status/40520012623631155...


postmodernism marxism and nature of proof don't sound like political issues.


Postmodernism is a political issue, or at least, it is involved in critical theory which influences politics. Marxism is a critique of political economy. I didn't mean to group the last item in with "political issues", though the point that he is misinformed still stands.


> What you just did was incredibly stupid and harmful. 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, and that they’re only being kept in their jobs because of some political ideas.

The author seems to assume this is obviously false, and neatly avoids the fact that in many companies, industries, and academic settings, there are indeed a large fraction of people who are not good enough to do their jobs, and are only kept in those jobs because of political ideas.


The document was written by a Googler about Google and is being commented on by a Xoogler that literally just left the company. It's not a general statement about human incompetence. It's about Google specifically.


>citation needed


The irony is that one of the touted business case reasons for diversity is that it gives a diversity of perspectives and ideas, which can be useful to solving a problem. I agree with this analysis. If we listen to Yontan though, any team that has a member with a different perspective will be punched in the face. That's a very clear argument for homogenous teams, at least as long as you don't want a workplace with constant fistfights.


> The irony is that one of the touted business case reasons for diversity is that it gives a diversity of perspectives and ideas, which can be useful to solving a problem. I agree with this analysis. If we listen to Yontan though, any team that has a member with a different perspective will be punched in the face. That's a very clear argument for homogenous teams, at least as long as you don't want a workplace with constant fistfights

Excluding people who have prejudices towards men and women does not mean you have "homogenous teams". It may mean you have fewer conservatives.

Also, some folks' ideas are so extreme that they exclude others' rights. We've seen this throughout history with conservatives. Working rights, voting rights, and marriage rights.

The woman who denied gay marriage licenses did it on the basis that her right to express her religion was being infringed upon. Who's being exclusive there? The woman, or the gay men who wanted to get married?


I posted this in another thread where the entire thread got flagged. This response on medium is scary and demonstrates what I’m concerned about. At this point the left has gotten to a point where witch hunts, blacklisting, exclusion, and suggesting that people could acceptably be subject to violence, for thought crime are accepted and encouraged tactics.

I’m a closeted conservative in tech, hence the throwaway account. Some of what the manifesto said is overly broad or wrong headed, in particular at least from my perspective generalizing views held by conservatives on climate change and similar issues, but one thing in particular stood out: The left and by extension Google do not tolerate diversity of viewpoint or worldview. Diversity of race or sex is viewed as critical but real diversity, that of the lens through which people view the world is to be stomped out with prejudice. If you don’t agree with the leftist secular view you are a bigot. If you are religious you must apologize for your bigotry and convince others it is only a social activity or something private that won’t affect how you behave or what you believe in other spheres. As a conservative orthodox Catholic and a devotee of Saint Josemariá Escrivá, I feel like I have to hide my faith and my views. If people understood that my devotion to doing my work as perfectly and as generously as I can is driven by my desire to serve God and mankind they would be shocked and disappointed. Even worse, my views on the existence of an absolute unchanging morality would be viewed as bigotry even though I don’t advocate discrimination and am willing to happily work beside those who believe and practice differently. It is not enough that we work side by side and treat each other with respect, I must believe and accept leftist dogma in my heart or I am a bigot and I am unfit to write code, work with others, or function in a management role. From my perspective the exclusion, demonization and intolerance from the left for those who dare to merely believe and live their own lives differently is terrifying. I don’t know how we come back from the current state of things to a liberal, open society where diversity of belief and viewpoint is prized.


Why on earth do you think people should be expected to tolerate a "diversity of views" on whether they are inherently less qualified than white men?


"It’s true that women are socialized to be better at paying attention to people’s emotional needs and so on — this is something that makes them better engineers, not worse ones."

Looks like the author of this blog post agrees with the author of the manifesto on his main point.


"Socialized" is the key word here: these skills are taught, and thus are learnable. There is no excuse for men not learning these skills once they discover they lack them.


I won't say anything positive or negative about either the original post or the rebuttal because publicly touching any of this is career suicide. But I will comment that as assertive the original author was about things, citing various facts and studies, was not the rebuttal similar in repeatedly saying the original author was wrong and citing his own studies? Can anyone in social science really say anything is fact? Social science is about the weakest "science" there is in terms of absolute proof and sureities


The rebuttal cited no studies. It asserts that the manifesto's claims about gender "flies directly in the face of all research done in the field for decades", and as far as I can tell this is utterly false.


What's great is the next sentence: "But I am neither a biologist, a psychologist, nor a sociologist, so I’ll leave that to someone else." So, you know it is false, completely, and that we should ignore it because it is false, but you are unqualified to provide any examples? Sigh.


Read the authors other posts on the same medium blog for his rebuttal of your arguments. I'd rather not paraphrase.


Quite honestly, the most concerning thing to me about this whole manifesto is the outright dismissive reaction it is getting from everyone.

I know that some people agree with the author and I want to see his point of view studied, analyzed and critiqued in the most objective and thorough manner possible. For instance, do we have evidence on gender biases among different engineering roles? If the answer is yes, is this bias due to organic inclinations attributable to inherent gender differences? Is any part of such inclinations - if any - historically/socially constructed? If it is something that has historical roots, is imposing diversity rules and regulations a temporary/transient measure necessary to counter an existing imbalance until unfair advantage is extenuated? Or is it something we need to maintain indefinitely?

Without rigorous examination of the claims in this manifesto, we are running the risk of having a growing base of believers of an under-scrutinized opinion, individuals who do not speak their minds solely due to social pressure.


A good example of what senior managers at Google think of people who actually write their code. The manifesto writer is an idiot, but this Yonatan Zunger guy doesn't paint himself in a good light here either.


So basically Yonatan Zunger is saying that the fact the women are underrepresented among Google engineers depends entirely from the misogynistic attitude of the company, and that its interviewers are maschilist assholes. So, he says, it took him "half of the past day" to try to fix the mess caused by a guy that dared to suggest that maybe the company and its employees are not such misogynistic assholes after all. Excellent job!


I do not like this article or the author's approach to argumentation.

The author attempts to argue like this: "I am so right I do not have to argue why I am right and even if I did, you would be too dumb to understand it. waves hands around vaguely there is lots of science proving everything I think is true. I am too lazy to cite any of it or even indicate what arguments you made specifically are wrong, online people back me up on this please. Therefore: SEXIST! YOU ARE A SEXIST PIG AND HAVE HURT PEOPLE'S FEELINGS AND I WOULD HAVE YOU FIRED!" </end article>

This approach to arguing is exactly why I left the Democratic Party last year and won't be coming back until it changes. The behavior of the online mobs supporting Liberal causes (especially in high tech) turned me off so thoroughly I can never return. Stereotyping everything you disagree with as racist, sexist or the general category of "nazi" no longer impresses me.

YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO START ACTUALLY BACKING UP YOUR ASSERTIONS, THE BULLYING APPROACH HAS STOPPED WORKING.

Anyways, so lets spend a minute talking about the piles of imaginary science the author believes to exist for a moment.

Are you sitting down? Zero. There is zero science, anywhere, stating that 50% of women MUST be engineers. There is none. The idea that 50% of engineers MUST be women is a WANT. It is a GOAL. It is a DESIRE. At no point in history has 50% of engineering EVER been done by women, WHY must we all agree that this is a rational objective?

Where the tech industry gets it wrong is that it has decided to RAM this opinion down everyone's throats and force them to adhere to ever more stringent speech and behavioral codes and attempt to make everything in tech so bland, so PC, so placid, so devoid of argumentation or competition that perhaps we can vaguely tempt a woman or two into joining a bunch of sweaty engineers in a basement and chug Red Bull all night to push shitty code to a failing server on AWS.

Surely more training in micro-agressions is the problem keeping women away and not the disgusting pit stains. Right? After ten years of diversity summits, women who code, peer pressure, online mobs ranting...the net effect has been a completely imperceptible change in the number of women working at Facebook and Google. This approach and all the feel good antics and cheerleading surrounding it has failed.

Who needs imaginary science to show us that women don't really want to be engineers when we have reality?

Yet we are all supposed to buy completely into the notion that at some point in the future, if all sexism and other barriers are removed, that 50% of engineers WILL be women. Why must that be true?

What I think the goal SHOULD be is that 100% of women should have mentorship, access to education, representation, engineering peers and early tutelage. Of the women who have talent at engineering, they should all be able to find placements in engineering if they do the work necessary.

And why is it always engineering? Why not coal mining? Why not nuclear engineering? Pig farming? Deep sea fishing? Plumbing? Carpentry? Why the incessant, unrelenting insistance from all corners that 50% of engineers MUST be women and no other profession?

Every time I ask this question, I am informed that: "We have banned people from asking why 50% of nurses are not men."

Why have you banned people from asking this question? Have you banned them from asking this question because you are right? Or have you banned people from asking this question because the answer makes you uncomfortable and does not support your worldview?


I ain't tryin to refute the rest of this, so you don't have to worry about that but this bit..

"And why is it always engineering? Why not coal mining? Why not nuclear engineering? Pig farming? Deep sea fishing? Plumbing? Carpentry? Why the incessant, unrelenting insistance from all corners that 50% of engineers MUST be women and no other profession?"

I've never personally advocated for 50/50 because I have no idea if it will or could ever happen, but for the rest, the answer is simple..

The tech industry is my home, it's what I know, and I feel like I have experience there. I have no experience in fishing, or coal mining, or pig farming, or any of that other stuff.

Doesn't it seem obvious that folks in tech would care about other folks in tech vs spending their time talking about industries they may or may not have experience in? It seems self-evident, so I have no idea why this point is ever brought up in this context.


Exactly. If I had devoted my career to a different industry that had serious diversity problems, I would be advocating for corrective actions in that industry.


And this is what happens when all we care about is if a person can balance a b-tree from memory in a job interview.


'I’m not going to spend any length of time on (1); 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.'

Ironic that he confuses gender and sex here, further emphasizing his ignorance.

The general point about flying 'directly in the face of all research done in the field for decades' is not only not true, it's absurdly so:

https://www.google.com/search?q=autism+extreme+maleness+baro...

https://iancommunity.org/cs/understanding_research/extreme_m...

and this exactly is in the area of 'systematising' and 'empathy' that the original author tries to provoke discussion on.

I also find it interesting that the original memo discusses supposed gender differences arising from sex that 'women in tech' discussion frequently puts forward, viz that women are less likely to ask for pay rises.


What an incredibly intellectually lazy way of attempting to deconstruct that manifesto this is!

> 1.I’m not going to spend any length of time on (1); if anyone wishes to provide details as to how nearly every statement about gender in that entire document is actively incorrect

"This is wrong, I don't have to tell you why" is a pitiful statement in and of itself, and perhaps more importantly, is not an argument. The author merely positions himself against the document with this, with no justification other than to reference fields that have shown themselves to have bias against reliable statistics relating to the subject matter in question.

> Essentially, engineering is all about cooperation, collaboration, and empathy for both your colleagues and your customers.

Yes and no. Specialties exist for a reason, and fields like "ux designer", "customer success coach", etc. exist because there's a clear need for people with those skillsets. If engineers were adept at that - and yes, of course some are, but most don't seem to be - then those professions wouldn't have broken out into their own domains of knowledge as quickly and at as large of a scale as they have.

That aside, this entire line of thought isn't much of an argument, because:

> If someone told you that engineering was a field where you could get away with not dealing with people or feelings, then I’m very sorry to tell you that you have been lied to.

I don't think the manifesto author ever said that men were incapable of empathy, or that they should never use it. He does suggest that being able to separate oneself from emotion is useful in a technical argument; I'll concur that ego can get in the way of making the right choice (e.g. Not Invented Here syndrome). There's a clear difference between your own emotional state, and your ability to empathize with another's.

In an ideal state, we are calm and collected with our own emotions and avoid letting them make decisions for us, while considering the emotions of others. Neurotypical people of all genders are entirely capable of doing this; the approach may differ, but if the author is at all suggesting that we need women in order to be able to have empathy in an engineering context, he's essentially saying men are incapable of the same, which is palpably incorrect.

> It’s true that women are socialized to be better at paying attention to people’s emotional needs and so on — this is something that makes them better engineers, not worse ones.

An unfounded assumption. Women are not merely socialized to be better at this; they've evolved to be better at it. This is true across every civilization in history; the gender role is an outcome of the evolved behaviour, which has teleological value in terms of its benefit to interpersonal relationships and successful propagation of family lines. Suggesting that it's merely a "socialized" thing is part of a chain of argument that leads down the path of believing that all humans are blank slates oppressed into particular behaviours, which runs contrary to all the research. Stephen Pinker is a great resource if one wants to find out more about this.

> What you just did was incredibly stupid and harmful. 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, and that they’re only being kept in their jobs because of some political ideas.

Ad-hominems aside, the argument here is that people with different political ideas should simply stay quiet. The original manifesto author made it clear that he's on-side with the growing number of people in the Western world that are becoming increasingly tired of being told that they aren't allowed to present their opinions. The original essay was not mean, hurtful, hateful, or scathing; it may have been wrong, in one's view, but to call it harmful implies the exact kind of emotion-based reasoning that we need to be able to avoid when dealing with sensitive or ego-bound topics.

> I am no longer even at the company and I’ve had to spend half of the past day talking to people and cleaning up the mess you’ve made.

This isn't your job, and nobody made you do that; if anything, you've been part of the Streisand Effect, whereing more and more people talking about something in order to "clean up the mess" simply spreads the mess wider.

> Do you understand that at this point, I could not in good conscience assign anyone to work with you?

Do you think that the manifesto author is going to act like a Mad Men caricature and harass women or refuse to work with them? What evidence has made you think so? Is having a strict personal adherence to a corporate-approved philosophy a requirement at this workplace? How is that justifiable?

> good number of the people you might have to work with may simply punch you in the face,

How is physical violence even remotely a reasonable thing to suggest in response to an essay? I have got to assume that Zunger was actually _angry_ at the time of typing this, because the emotion - bordering on hatred - is evident in this last segment.

> But our company is committed to maintaining a good environment for all of its people, and if one person is determined to thwart that, the solution is pretty clear.²

"All of its people" is a set that is known to contain a non-zero number of people that agree with this manifesto author. If the way that you maintain a good environment for your chosen group of people is to simply remove everyone that doesn't perfectly fit the mold, it may be dishonest to use language that makes you sound magnanimous or ecumenical when the true goal really is division and a lack of diversity.

All in all, a poor response, not much better than the official one from the company, that does nothing to address the legitimate concerns raised and rather seeks to sweep the problems back under the rug for the comfort of all involved. It might work this time, and the next time, but eventually if there's going to be any settled truth to this matter, we'll have to have open discussions about it instead of simply shutting it down.


as i wrote it elsewhere already regarding the original "manifesto":

i am curious, if this person is ok with questioning their belief in "traits" that are defined on the level of sex. after all they are the one who says that "some ideas are too sacred to be discussed" and when i bring this up, i often find that the "differences" between the sexes are exactly one of these ideas.

the reactions to this talk are a good example. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqR4cw9Amlg


Are you okay with people questioning your questioning of gender differences? Obviously there are differences. It is frustrating to continually have to explain how irrelevant they are to performance in 99.9% of business functions.

1. The cohesiveness of the organization is more important than any particular individual.

2. Men have greater variance in many skills than women do, so there are more men on the high end and low end of the talent spectrum.

3. On average we are the same, and there are enough humans around today that few of us exist in a zone with no significant overlap.

4. The genetic and developmental formation of men exposes us to greater mutation rates than women. The mutations that add the extra variance in talent can have chaotic and deleterious effects in other aspects (for instance diminished social awareness, autism, aggression).

5. Socially aware individuals are more likely to seek and form stronger teams. A talented individual has a high productivity relative to other individuals, but teams can multiply in ways individuals can't.

6. High individual talent can be abrasive and egotistical. Egos are toxic on teams and in business because they prevent you from seeing the wider picture. A wide perspective is vital to obtaining a competitive edge. Abrasion over time causes other team members to burn out, causing loss of intellectual capital and a bad brand in the talent market. (Not all talented individuals are abrasive).

7. Without a solid team you have no chance at accomplishing anything worthwhile.

8. Empathetic individuals keep the team emotionally secure and are able to design organizational structures that best leverage existing resources.

9. Organizational diversity has been shown to positively impact collective performance. Every new perspective is an edge over the competition, an insight into a new set of consumers.

10. Gender balances out in the end. We are all taking our own roads through life and each of us has a unique skill set that we are using to make ourselves happier in this weird imbalanced society. In a hierarchical organization, one can leverage their skills to obtain higher posts even if they are not exactly the same skills of their predecessors. It all contributes.

It's simple. The argument is pointless. The only reason I'm posting this is because Yonatan put himself on the front lines of this particular fight and he didn't have to. He's going to have to argue his point down to meaningless details to convince those absurdly stubborn people who refuse to get their heads out of the sand.

Yes, we are different. That's a good thing.


I am ok with people questioning anything, the only situation when this is not ok when there is an emergency, and for those situation we should be prepared ahead, so there is no question what we have to do. I see that you agree that the differences are irrelevant. Or how I would say, the effect size is too small to be considered as a factor.

1. however any organization should have a purpose beyond sustaining itself and if it has no such, it should be dismantled immediatelly

2. probably true, but it's definitely more about the circumstances than about the individuals

3. agreed

4. this is as much about diagnosing behaviors as about expressing the said behaviors. my views of how minds work significantly differ from the views that use these diagnoses

5. i don't believe in "talented individuals". rest of this point is fine by me.

6. this whole thing is nonsense to me. sure, what you say is true, but as I said I don't believe in talent. I also don't believe that you need to be competitive to be productive. I don't think a team or an individual has to be competitive in any situation besides competitions, and those are actually quite rare. obviously, if someone believes they are competing when they are not or should not, that can be extremely destructive.

7. the grass is green, the sky is blue, and truisms are truisms. :)

8. sure, but to be empathetic is to express empathy when it's appropriate, which can be learned. some people learn it fast other's maybe never. but most often the reason for this is not because they were born like that, but because the circumstances didn't allow them to learn it.

9. diversity is good in ecosystems because it gives resilience. that's true again, in almost any sufficiently complex situation

10. depends what you mean by "balance" & "in the end". certainly i don't see it being nowhere balanced currently, i know lots of people who are forced into roles based on their gender (sometimes even by their sex) that they can not fulfill and it's just bad for everyone involved.

I don't think we are different enough for us to talk about it how different we are and definitely we are not different enough so we have the society built around these differences as it is right now. Maybe not where you live, and if you are lucky like that, be glad for it. Where I live, women are oppressed actively. They have to spend way more time to be accepted by their peers than men, they have to work way more than men to be accepted as productive. They have less chances to have say in important decisions. etc.


Ad-hominems aside...

That's clearly not an ad hominem -- it's not even close to the definition! And, the rest of what you said is even more incorrect. Fortunately, no one is obligated to spend their time to refute your bullshit.


Insults don't add anything helpful to the discussion, and only contribute to further polarization across political divides.


There's literally no insult in my comment. But, I appreciate your desire to reduce polarization by legitimizing bigotry! Keep on keepin' on.


If you think a nasty swipe like "your bullshit" isn't an insult, you're mistaken about what counts as incivility on HN. Such flamebait is what we're trying to avoid.

Ideological battle is against the mandate of this site, and ideological venom is a regulated pollutant on HN, so would you please stop injecting it into your posts? We all know what internet call-out and rage culture has led to, and on HN the goal is not to go up in such flames. These rules apply regardless of which ideology you're battling for and how correct your underlying points are. In fact, being right makes it worse.


Um, no, just trying to encourage civility. (Calling others' words BS sounds insulting to me at least.)


You label it a "political divide" when it's one group of people who consider other humans biologically inferior, and therefore less deserving, than others.

If your beliefs are about restricting the rights of others when you have those rights yourself, you are not on one side of a "political divide." Labelling it as such is a euphemism for prejudice.


> it's one group of people who consider other humans biologically inferior, and therefore less deserving, than others.

That is an extreme mischaracterization of the views of those who believe in differences between the sexes. Nowhere does the manifesto author say that women are inferior or less deserving of their equality in terms of their right to pursue whatever career option they find interesting.

The belief in question here is that there are differences, that they are measurable, that they have been measured - and you can find the data, with remarkable consistency over a hundred years of psychometrics research. This doesn't mean that anyone should be treated badly, nor does it mean that it would be reasonable to have discriminatory hiring practices.

What it means is that you mind find more men interested in, and excelling at, particular fields compared with women, who have complementary interests and excellence in other fields. And then there are fields that both seem to do well at. When you discover your field is not in the latter camp, you can either socially engineer it into being artificially equal, and reap whatever consequences you get from that, or you can accept things as they present themselves.

> If your beliefs are about restricting the rights of others when you have those rights yourself

Where does the manifesto author restrict anyone's rights? Why do you need to put words in his mouth in order to have an argument?


> What it means is that you mind find more men interested in, and excelling at, particular fields compared with women, who have complementary interests and excellence in other fields.

Men are in control of these fields. Men do not have to face the discrimination and harassment that women must face to work in these fields. There is significantly less friction for men to enter and rise at Google than there is for women. If people were truly considered equal, that friction would not be there and there would be equal representation at the very top. Making that friction go away is what Google is trying to do, and this manifesto does exactly the opposite. I doubt you'll find many women who appreciate the fact that they are considered "more neurotic" by a male engineer at Google.

Engineering is not inherently male or female. Women are not worse at spatial reasoning or maths or programming. Bullshit thinking like this leads to discrimination in those fields.

> Where does the manifesto author restrict anyone's rights?

By writing the manifesto he advocates for a system that would.

By making the assumption that biological differences account for inequality leads to the thinking that biological differences justify inequality. (I get the sense that this author believes that but is just shy of saying it.)

The author has the privilege of not having faced discrimination the same way a woman would have faced in his place. By writing this manifesto blind to that privilege — and then coming to the conclusion that it's "biological differences" and that women are simply "wired differently" — for why they are paid less, and in less senior positions, simply propagates the existing discriminatory system. A system which discriminates against the rights of others.

Let's lay out a ridiculous assumption made by the original author:

> We always ask why we don't see women in top leadership positions, but we never ask why we see so many men in these jobs. These positions often require long, stressful hours that may not be worth it if you want a balanced and fulfilling life.

This implies that women are less capable of dealing with stress. Most of my searching on this suggests the opposite, that women deal better with stress than men. But then, the question of gender and stress seems incredibly complicated and the original author has used a simple and blind assumption which favours his ego and supports his position. His entire piece is written like this.


> no one is obligated to spend their time to refute your bullshit.

I agree wholeheartedly! However, others would like to. I'll be over there talking to them; please find your way to the nearest safe-space where kitten and puppy images await you.


Comments like this are a bannable offense on HN, so please don't post like this again.


The amount of emotionally charged black and white thinking that permeates this debate is mind-boggling, as is the ability of the outraged side to create a straw man out of thin air through cherry-picking and blatant misinterpretation. Truly one of the most impressive displays of mental gymnastics I have seen and I'm not sure which is more terrifying - the idea that this is done unconsciously or consciously.

From the original manifesto:

> [...] I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don’t endorse using stereotypes. [...]

> [...] Differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don’t have 50% representation of women in tech and leadership. [...]

> [...] If we can’t have an honest discussion about this, then we can never truly solve the problem. [...]

> [...] Of course, men and women experience bias, tech, and the workplace differently and we should be cognizant of this, but it’s far from the whole story. [...]

> [...] Note, I’m not saying that all men differ from women in the following ways or that these differences are “just.” I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership. Many of these differences are small and there’s significant overlap between men and women, so you can’t say anything about an individual given these population level distributions. [...]

> [...] I hope it’s clear that I’m not saying that diversity is bad, that Google or society is 100% fair, that we shouldn’t try to correct for existing biases, or that minorities have the same experience of those in the majority. [...]

> [...] I’m also not saying that we should restrict people to certain gender roles; I’m advocating for quite the opposite: treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group (tribalism). [...]

Gizmodo's summary:

> In the memo, which is the personal opinion of a male Google employee and is titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” the author argues that women are underrepresented in tech not because they face bias and discrimination in the workplace, but because of inherent psychological differences between men and women.

From Zunger's post:

> You have probably heard about the manifesto a Googler (not someone senior) 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.

How any person of average intelligence possessing a modest grasp of the English language can draw these conclusions is beyond me.

Granted there is an argument to be made for the manifesto's author not doing the best possible job of expressing himself in such a way as to increase the likelihood of sparking a civil debate on what is clearly a very sensitive issue. I am also not the biggest fan of his preoccupation with the one-dimensional and in my opinion overly simplistic left/right political spectrum.

I will not argue for or against the specific conclusions he draws in regard to the role of genetics in the different distribution of traits among men and women, as I have neither the time nor the interest to look into the research (nor the opportunity, really, as a number of links have been apparently omitted from the publication, which, one might assume, lead to sources the author was basing his arguments on).

What I do find fascinating however, and the reason I'm writing this, is that I see someone basically going "guys, have we actually stopped to consider that maybe that could be one of the reasons why we're observing this and if not why not - here's what I think" while doing everything humanly possible to emphasize that they are in no way denying that there is a problem and in no way suggesting that that is the only reason. And instead of getting "yes we did and here's what we concluded and why" or "no we didn't, let's talk about it", they're viciously shamed and attacked for entertaining the very thought.

A comment here referred to this as thoughtcrime punishment and I couldn't agree more. This is plain and simply dogma at work, and the way I see it, it has no place among intelligent people engaged in science and/or engineering. And yet here we are.

We have no problem accepting that differing trait distribution between different genetic groups can be a significant factor in a disproportionate representation of some groups in certain fields - soldiers in combat roles, construction workers, athletes, etc. And yet when it comes to the brain, suggesting a similar difference is suddenly taboo.

Even before doing any research, the idea that the brain is somehow exempt from all of this seems highly questionable and would merit the most rigorous examination to confirm or reject.

Here's a thought though - it doesn't matter to this debate. We could talk about if/why men are on average better/worse than women in whatever and throw around studies until we are blue in the face, but in the end when someone wants to do a job, the only thing that should matter is - can that person deliver. We need to be focused on making sure that this is indeed the only thing that matters and let natural tendencies and capabilities produce whatever representation of genetic groups they produce and if it's similar to the general population that's fine and if it's not, that's fine too.

Let me emphasize again, that we're already doing this in many fields. Everyone is not born equal. We know that's true, we know enough about genetics to recognize that differing distribution of traits among genetic groups are a thing and yet we're so terrified of being seen as racist or sexist, that we'll keep a few precious blindspots no matter what and defend them to the death whenever someone dares suggest that we might want to shine a light on them.

Another thought - there are children growing up right now that don't understand race. I guess some might even be lucky enough that they don't understand gender. They see different people with different skin, hair, features, body shapes, genitals, skills, manners, likes and dislikes. They'd do perfectly fine going through life with the simple understanding that 'yes, people are different', but then we get to them and explain how, you see, this group of people is oppressing that group of people, these people are like this and those are like that, and instead of seeing individuals we teach them to see the emotionally charged baggage-ladden labels that we insist on slapping on everyone - black people and white people, men and women, gay and straight, African American, Hispanic American, Chinese American, Native American and so on.

Significant, lasting cultural change doesn't happen overnight, it takes decades and it takes children looking at the world with fresh eyes and adults capable of recognising their biases and making sure to die without passing them on in order to make place for someone better.

Of course, discrimination is a problem that needs some solution now rather than in decades. It's likely too late for the adults among us to erase our biases. We can recognize we have them, we can minimize them and we can put measures in place to make sure they can't do too much damage - blind paper reviews/auditions/tests as well as bias awareness training strike me as solutions that can only do good.

Among other things, we're most definitely missing out on brilliant female engineers in CS due to sexism and an often toxic environment, which is clearly a lose-lose situation for everyone. I think it's worth considering that we might just be missing out on brilliant male engineers as well, due to affirmative action, which is also sexism.

Forcefully engineering and moulding society into whatever shape someone decided it's supposed to have through positive discrimination isn't change. It's the appearance of change, while fueling social conflict, hurting economical, technological and scientific progress and drawing the lines that divide us, thus reinforcing the very foundation of racism, sexism, religious intolerance and any of the countless other stupid reasons we come up with to fight each other - seeing people as members of a group rather than individuals.

I'd like to suggest we take a step back and reevaluate whether we're more interested in pragmatic solutions that genuinely lead to a stronger, happier and more harmonious society or in playing make-believe and indulging in some justice fantasy with a very questionable basis in reality.


When people I manage ask me about career advice, I always start from "Love what you do, do what you love". Over the years I saw a few examples of people who were pushed into mathematics, computer science, etc. by parents or environment but who didn't like it. Some changed their careers (my high school classmate opened a backery after a few years at Google - she absolutely loves it and would never go back to technology.

I believe we are all different and this is a good thing. The real hard social issue I think is that not all jobs are considered lucrative by the society (which is also reflected in the pay). In the ideal world, there would be good well paying jobs for everyone to fulfill their dreams.


This point has been already made by Eric Raymond in his article "Women in computing: first, get the problem right" http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=2118


I am a female engineer and I partially agreed with the original manifesto. To be pragmatic, I rather work with a qualified SWE than someone hired by lowering the hiring bar due to political correctness. I am also fed up with the empty assumption that diversity will bring positive productivity. What is the problem with meritocracy? I think any competitive SWE (regardless of the gender) will not be intimidated by such manifesto.


Wow, I can't believe these comments. I give. HN is stupid. Programmers are by and large stupid, we just have a set of specialized skills.

I'm starting to understand now why so much code is documented so poorly.

And yet, there's smart posts like these that give me some glimmer of hope. Thanks for stemming the tide. I hope those of us not totally brain dead can figure something out.


Ugh... having staff is going to be a pain the the arse isn't it :-/

I'm guessing if this guy knew everyone he worked with, say ~ 50 people, he would not dare to write something like this.

And yes I'm talking about both of these manifestos.


Something just occurred to me, which isn't directly related to the original article, but is I believe relevant to the debate that ensued around it. Apart from any ethical, social and economical considerations, one of the easiest arguments to make against sexism is that even from the point of view of pure self-interest it is plain stupid. Passing on a perfectly qualified candidate because of what's between their legs (assuming that's not directly relevant to the position in question) is completely irrational and self-sabotaging.

While there may be high quality studies proving a preferable distribution of certain relevant traits in men or women, that information gives you at best some minimally higher chance that if you were to pick someone at random from the group with the better distribution they might be slightly more capable in that one particular way, maybe, which may or may not result in a higher qualification for the position depending on countless other factors and their combination or interaction with the trait in question. In other words it's completely worthless compared to the much more precise and specific information that you can gather from directly evaluating the individual in front of you.

Here's a thought experiment on the topic of enforced diversity. Disclaimer - I'm pulling the numbers out of the air and they aren't relevant. The example is also a little contrived for the sake of argument, I'm just trying to illustrate a principle.

Let's say we have a medical university that admits 100 candidates. The admission tests are administered and evaluated blindly, the professionals responsible for the evaluation aren't aware of anyone's gender, ethnicity, age, looks, they don't have any information beyond the content of the tests. They have also undergone bias awareness training, just in case, because why not.

The 500 candidates who apply are ranked according to their test results. In addition to these anti-bias measures, the university has a diversity goal of admitting 50% women (medicine is probably not the best example for this, but bear with me here). Now whether the enforcement of those goals is written in stone or strongly recommended with whatever pressure/incentives behind it, the result is quotas.

As it happens, for whatever mix of reasons, genetical, prenatal, environmental or social, at this particular time in this particular place only 40% of the top 100 happen to be women. The diversity goals however dictate that 50% must be admitted, so 10 men will be refused admission in favor of ten less qualified women. Let's say for the sake of argument that they all graduate successfully.

And now let's say I have to undergo a medical procedure and pick a doctor. I know for a fact that all 10 doctors available to me have been to the very same university. Not being an MD myself and not having any recommendations, I am in no position to judge their qualifications, so all I have to rely on is gut feeling and metadata. And I know for a fact that there's a higher chance that a female doctor from that university has been admitted on quotas instead of skill and I'd know that chance is higher even without the information how many women were in the top 100 because of the very possibility which does not exist for men. And now I end up in a position where gender mainstreaming and diversity efforts, in particular quotas, somehow managed to make sexism a reasonable, rational basis for making a decision, which wouldn't have occurred to me in a thousand years.

Without quotas, I have no good reason to care about my doctor's genitals or the color of their skin. With them I just might.

If that's not shooting yourself in the foot, I don't know what is.


There's a bit if immaturity in the manifesto despite it being very rational and well-reason. In my mind, it's the immaturity of a rich kid who is very intelligent, having had the best teachers, and also well meaning and trying to do good.

To understand what affirmative action actually tries to do it must be understood that there are 2 primary types of moats. One is a "Test Moat" that tests required abilities. A firefighter being able to carry 100 pounds is an example. The other is a "Privilege Moat". This is primarily based around gating access to resources to a privileged few to create abundance. This gating is socially created and maintained.

These moats have a lot of overlap. Asking a candidate if they know what a 'function' is is a simple type of test moat. Asking a web developer to create a red-black tree on the fly is a privilege moat.

(Google is in a bit of a strange spot as there is a widespread belief that web developer who DOES know how to create a red-black tree on the fly is better than one who doesn't. Most companies do not have the attraction or excess capacity to actually care about this, they take what they can get. (or stupidly mimic the Google process) They don't have the bandwidth to care about privilege moats.)

The moat being sacred is the capstone for the delusion that allows selfishness to be hidden and prevents growth of moral guilt. Privilege moats not only gate access but also must assuage guilt.

Test moats naturally grow into privilege moats over time. Especially as the tested skill becomes commoditized. The existing base naturally feels threatened.

Affirmative action is about de-sacredizing privilege moats. It is primarily destructive in nature. There's no nice way to shit over something. It's primary purpose is to destroy specific types of culture. Even today, the culture of "White man's Burden" is still being destroyed and is generally considered a good thing that it is.

In Google's case, de-sacredization may primarily be about recognizing that certain skills are nice to have but not NECESSARY. It lowers the bar because new candidates will no longer be able to keep up with passionate Haskell discussion during lunchtime on break from adjusting CSS.

Going a step further, it is de-sacredization of the idea that your work must be your life. That you must live and breath code to be a "real" coder. This idea CANNOT co-exist with the idea that coding needs to become a core competency. I don't live and breath reading and writing but I still read and write.

This touches on the author's valid point that certain positions have more stress and that the development of male gender roles to be more feminine has lagged behind. (I have a pet theory that this is driven by lack of economic incentive and is due to Americas obsession over money. Cultures that value psychological and familial happiness/health may be further along in developing the flexibility of male gender roles)

However, this valid point is mixed up with the real privilege moats that should be adjusted. The author is overall well meaning and representative of valid thoughts and ideas and deserves none of the flak he has taken. He simply had more courage. Bring up these ideas and absorbing them to create a counter-idea is what can inspire real change. Many self-described liberals are very hypocritical in this respect, creating privilege moats based on capacity for self censorship.

What I've mostly described here are bars that are lowered because they are needlessly high. However another motivation for lowering bars are their second order effects. It creates role models and opens up a potential life path in the eyes of children. It makes a domain seem friendlier and more enforced (less unsaid social requirements).

It can also be somewhat apologetic in extreme cases. The affirmative action movements for African Americans in the U.S. and the lower castes in India come to mind. Without affirmative action, the initial momentum and privilege for certain subgroups would continuously compound and maintain tiers of ability/people. All tiers would theoretically grow together, but the relative distance would grow. Capitalism does this too via the initial capital allocation.

Growing relative distance creates a sense of unfairness and unless there is infinite abundance, market auction dynamics will cause the upper tiers to have almost everything. Very poor people can have instant connection to their friends via facebook but still be fighting a headwind when trying to pull themselves out of poverty. (There is expectation that the government maintains a decent privilege moat so that its citizens can live abundant lives, enforced with guns if necessary. The only governments that can't do this are those where moats of ineffective because the issue is already within the moat. China/India have their hands full.)

Notice how affirmative action for things like education (candles lighting candles) is much more accepted than affirmative action for capital (zero sum). The tech-gender-gap story is somewhere in the middle. Does tech create enough abundance that it can effectively be infinite for all people int he bay area? Is it artificial scarcity due to greedy execs? Will lowering the cultural bar for Google cause it to become uncool and cause the cool smart people to leave?

who knows...


Thanks for writing this out. It effectively communicates many of the underlying reasons for the state of technology in regards to race and how it affects accessibility.


The easiest way to see the article is just fighting a strawman of the original manifesto is to notice the article never directly quotes the manifesto.


The article quotes “ideological echo chamber.” It also further quotes:

> The manifesto talks about making “software engineering more people-oriented with pair programming and more collaboration” but that this is fundamentally limited by “how people-oriented certain roles and Google can be;” and even more surprisingly, it has an entire section titled “de-emphasize empathy,” as one of the proposed solutions.

So basically you're just factually wrong.


While those are technically quotes, it looks like they're there just for the Medium author to mock them.


No, those are actually quotes and they're there to give the OP's voice. He said "ideological echo chamber". He said "de-emphasize empathy". Those are his words.

You might be reading it differently than I am. I don't see a knowing nod and wink between a liberal writer and his liberal readers about one of them. I see an engineering manager genuinely angry about another worker.

You might want to re-read his last paragraph and ask yourself if the author is mocking the OP.


To quote the original manifesto would be to normalize hatred.


You're getting downvoted for now, but you bring up an interesting point that's worth making more explicit.

If some set of ideas is so repugnant that quoting it, even in a rebuttal, "normalizes hatred", then why try to rebut it at all? Shouldn't it be enough to simply use social norms to shame the author into submission without addressing his arguments? Nobody feels the need to write rebuttals against NAMBLA, because we as a society live within a consensus that pedophilia is wrong.

The usual response is that ideas like the ones expressed in the "manifesto" are still widespread enough that they need to be addressed. But if a set of beliefs is that widespread, then by definition, there isn't a consensus and social norm against them. As a result, you need to address these ideas straight-up, even if you personally find them repugnant.

To dismiss them as "hatred", unworthy of being quoted even in rebuttal, just means that you've giving up on convincing anyone else to your point of view. And at some level, that's fine. I personally choose to isolate myself from people who don't believe in things like vaccines or climate change because I don't have the patience to deal with them.

But if you want to actually change people's minds, you have to deal with the fact that some people hold opinions that you personally find repugnant, and you have to address those opinions in an intellectually honest way. That's the table stakes for writing any kind of rebuttal, and once you've bought into that, there's no reason not to go all the way. In their famous debates, Lincoln thoughtfully listened and responded to Douglas's points, he didn't just rant and rave about giving Douglas a podium to speak from "normalized hatred".


> Shouldn't it be enough to simply use social norms to shame the author into submission without addressing his arguments?

That's exactly what many people are trying to do. Fortunately, some are smarter than that.

It is very pleasant and convenient to declare dominating point of view the eternal truth and any challenge to it taboo. It is done a lot by a lot of people - disagree with them, and you not just disagreeing - you are a hateful bigot and a despicable worm of a person, worthy only of derision. And that works too, especially with good peer support. The only problem with it shaming is good at silencing, but is not so good at convincing. So if you are ok with people being afraid to talk about certain topics and challenge whatever ideas are in power - it works wonders. If you want people to actually get the point, get onboard and not just be afraid to say what they truly think - there's a bit more work needed.


This seems a little melodramatic. And even if I bought that the 'original manifesto' was espousing 'hatred,' I'm not sure what 'normalizing it' means.

This logic seems an awful lot like a book-burning mentality.


If I quote Hitler in a debate about world war 2, am I normalizing the Holocaust?


It's a question of how you quote him. If you quote him to argue against him, especially if you do so in a reasonable, thoughtful way, you would be implying the initial statement or argument was reasoned, and thoughtful.

"Normalization" is the process by which we treat ludicrous things as not ludicrous, but debatable.


Treating other people's opinions as ludicrous might work as a strategy to an extent, but in the long run that approach will only create further division and ostracism.

Tear apart the ideas with friendly, well-reasoned arguments, yes! Ideas are fair game. Fight fire with fire, not gasoline.


Everything is debatable. Even this.


Buzzzzzz. Godwin's law.


[flagged]


Intended in fun only. Hope I didn't give offense :-)


That was my first assumption, and none taken :)


Yes


So everything is black and white now and we've lost all room for nuance and grey areas? Seems like that kind of environment would stifle the exploration of difficult subject matter.


No, it's just that it is easier to shame dissidence than to try to rebut it.


[flagged]

Mods, you can have all of my points if you'll unflag this story. It is extremely well written by someone who could well have been in the OP's chain of command and who knows the company culture.

Edit: thanks mods, the article has been unflagged.


Same. This reflects very poorly on YC/HN.


As with the original post, I look forward to the thoughtful, tightly reasoned and unemotional discussion that this post will generate.


Haha


Not an argument


We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14939770 and marked it off-topic.


there is no need for one. Google is a company, not a marketplace for people's prejudices. They have every right to shut discourse like this down, and they should because it is insulting to every women working at Google.

The good thing about being a company instead of a townhall is that you don't need to accomodate adolescent men feeling insecure about their female coworkers.


I didn't see anything in the "manifesto" that seemed insulting to women... care to elaborate?


saying that women are biologically worse engineers would be the primary candidate


Which he did not say. The discussion on gender differences was providing possible reasons why women may be less likely than men to pursue engineering careers. It says nothing about the relative ability of women who do choose that path.


I didn't see that at all. What I understood him to be saying was that on average (across society), there are various biological differences. I don't see any insult there, intended or not.

I thought his only intent was to argue against institutionalized discrimination.


It was.

Apparently, lots of people either haven't read the "manifesto", or have but have read into it something not explicitly stated by the author.

I think some critics have claimed that the things explicitly stated by the author implictly mean something bad, but they haven't actually made the effort of showing that conclusion is supported by anything the author wrote.


Replying with a standard maga-snowflake quip is also not an argument.


"(2) Perhaps more interestingly, the author does not appear to understand engineering."

The manifesto's author has a degree in Biology, not Computer Science. He probably learned enough programming on his own time to pass a technical interview, but never learned the "softer" parts of a CS degree that address working effectively as a team.

Programmers without degrees miss bits of the standard curriculum, often rigorous algorithmic analysis, but deciding that empathy is irrelevant to such a communal enterprise is a unique deduction!


Not unique. Lacking nuance (a.k.a biased?).

I have reached similar deduction based on my suspicion that I suffer from EDD. I don't think I understand what empathy is. Perhaps as a concept, but I have a hard time putting it in practice (according to others).

On the other hand, I poses exceptional analytical rigor (bullshit detector?) that (combined with my lack of empathy) manifests as what people often call "somebody who speaks his mind".

I lack tact. Another hypothesis is that I am just a selfish jerk. An asshole. Or an introvert. I don't really know - I have many hypothesis. Bayesian analysis proves difficult.

Either way - this predisposition me, no - forces me to function in the world despite my deficiencies. And so I'd like to think that I am succeeding at being useful, even without empathy, but it is blatantly obvious that I gravitate towards problems where I don't have to deal with humans too often.

All in all, though - I think this opinion is somewhat consistent with the observation that "man systemize, women empathize"?

That insight alone is sufficient for me to know (and accept) that any team I am on, needs the counter-balance of an empath to mitigate the risk of my shortcommings.




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