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Google Fires Employee Behind Controversial Diversity Memo (bloomberg.com)
1697 points by QUFB 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 2372 comments



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People can't seem to summarize his argument without getting much of it grossly wrong, because his manifesto was a haphazard collection of good points, bad points, good arguments, lousy arguments, misrepresentations of others' views, and unstated implications. A perfect recipe for people to argue past each other about it.

It's worth remembering that one of his conclusions was to end or replace gender-based diversity programs at Google. Given that, it's easy to understand why people would be upset. If gender-based diversity programs are responsible for qualified women getting jobs that they otherwise wouldn't have gotten due to bias, then the lack of that program means those women wouldn't have gotten those jobs.


You imply bias in the the hiring process is what is causing the gender imbalance in tech. Indicators such university enrollment in CS programs show that this is unlikely to be the case.

If the author is wrong, that there definitely isn't some inherit genetic behavioral bias influencing job choice, than the bias is happening before students finish highschool.

I'm a proponent for an "early bias" theory because of far lower female graduation and entry level application rates to CS jobs. If less than 25% of CS graduates are female, which is currently the case, it strongly suggests that attempting to make the engineering team 50% female will result in a lower hiring bar for women. That means that the overall point of the authors manifesto, that programs designed to specifically increase the ratio of female engineers are unfair, is true.

We need to do something about the low number of women going into tech fields in school. Punishing companies for not hiring women when the vast majority of candidates are men is a perverse incentive that is biased against men and doesn't fix the real problem.

It's like punishing someone for taking more yellow onions at the market when there's 3 times as many nice looking ones as white onions. The right way to fix the imbalance is to increase the supply of white onions. In the real world, farmers would begin switching to white onions and the supply would increase. Unfortunately, our supply of women is governed by a mostly government run school system that doesn't exist in a world of supply and demand and likes to shift the blame for their ineptitude.

Fixing this at the education level would mean owning up to a mistake. It's much easier to just fine everyone to make it look like you're fixing a "problem" caused by inadequate regulations.


>You imply bias in the the hiring process is what is causing the gender imbalance in tech. Indicators such university enrollment in CS programs show that this is unlikely to be the case.

>it strongly suggests that attempting to make the engineering team 50% female will result in a lower hiring bar for women.

I cannot speak for Google and I haven't been following their recruitment efforts.

However, I will say I'm a little tired of this notion that such companies are aiming for 50%.

I know one company that has really ramped up hiring of minorities (mostly women, though). And everyone is criticizing them for targeting 50% when there is a problem in the supply.

Except they never said they were targeting 50%. Not once. What they did was look at their different grade levels' skills, and compared that to the number of women in the market who should qualify, and compared that to the proportion in the company.

Example: They found that 20% of PhDs in a relevant field that they hired from were women, whereas in the company only 10% of PhDs hired were women. So their recruitment efforts are to hit 20%.

Not 50%.

Any time someone says 50%, they are likely invoking a strawman.


Then perhaps this is a teaching moment for Google's PR team. As an outsider, and based on what I've heard and read on blog posts and hiring pages about affirmative action, a common method of meeting their goals is diversity quotas. Given the fact that men and women have a 50/50 balance, and given that many programs reach as close to perfect equality as they can, it seems obvious to me at least that they would be trying for a 50/50 distrobution between the sexes.

If this isn't actually the case, then their PR should make it known, because the implications of the current system do make it seem like minorities may be given precedence at the expense of white or asian men.


>Given the fact that men and women have a 50/50 balance, and given that many programs reach as close to perfect equality as they can, it seems obvious to me at least that they would be trying for a 50/50 distrobution between the sexes.

>If this isn't actually the case, then their PR should make it known, because the implications of the current system do make it seem like minorities may be given precedence at the expense of white or asian men.

You want them to go out of their way to clarify assumptions you are making about things they never claimed?


Yes. Based on the comments in this thread, it seems to be a commonly held (mis)interpretation, and it's a perception that mars the company. It's in everyone's best interest if it is clarified so that both the asian and white male employees and the minority employees don't feel they're being discriminated against based on their race or gender.


Many of the most outspoken proponents of diversity initiatives, in the public arena, insist that "50% women" is the only acceptable goal.

If Google doesn't agree, I would like for them to publicly state this.


that does not make sense every time. lets assume that 20% of CS graduates are women but you are searching to hire only top 30% overall. there is no garantee that the top 30% will have 20% woman it could be more or less.

And even if it is and everybody is looking to hire the top 30% then the poll of the best women candidates quickly dries, and you have a harder time every time to find them. So if your agenda is to have 20% of women, you will probably ultimatly have to adjust your criteria.

gender should not mather, if you hire only the best you should hire them it does not mather if they are women or man.


Gender shouldn't matter, but unfortunately it does.

There are many components to the problem, but one component is institutional bias in the hiring process itself. You assume that all candidates are given a fair shake by an impartial, unbiased set of criteria that should be ferreting out the best talent and making offers to only those people. But those supposedly impartial criteria are executed upon in interviews by fallible human beings with their own personal or institutional biases, not by impartial pattern-matching robots. Consequently, many talented female engineers are passed over for inferior male ones, not the other way around.

I have interviewed literally thousands of candidates in my tech management career, and not once have I seen an inferior female candidate picked over a superior male one because of a diversity initiative. I have, however, had to work with young male interviewers to train them to properly identify their own unconscious biases and to ensure that they are truly being as impartial as possible when interviewing candidates of any gender. And to the degree that that is impossible - well, that is why we still have diversity targets.


> train them to properly identify their own unconscious biases

> not once have I seen an inferior female candidate picked over a superior male one because of a diversity initiative

What if you have an unconscious bias and didn't notice that inferior female candidates are being hired?

It's unconscious, you might just view men as inferior to women and not even know about it.


Isn't that the majority of the evidence tho? What I keep hearing is that women are underrepresented because women are slightly more than 50% of the population but 10-20% of engineering jobs.

That implies that diversity initiatives are going to continue until we have slightly more than 50% representation. Which is not bad in and of itself, but it seems like the initiatives are not allowed to used research or data beyond less than 50% representation. It gets sinister and loaded with unintended consequences when the expected shortcut is just to implement quotas to teach that one metric.


> If less than 25% of CS graduates are female, which is currently the case, it strongly suggests that attempting to make the engineering team 50% female will result in a lower hiring bar for women.

If Google is anything like Redacted, that's the case. Redacted pays monthly bonuses to their international offices for each woman on the office's payroll. I have two friends working at Redacted in a relatively cheap region and they say the bonuses are as high as their junior-level salaries - they can afford to hire a second junior developer for each junior woman they have. Your guess what happens. An upside is that this poses no threat to male developers so they don't complain and just have a chuckle when their mandatory diversity training explains how the company's policy improves performance by "tapping into the pool of female talent formerly overlooked due to systemic discrimination".


> You imply bias in the the hiring process is what is causing the gender imbalance in tech. Indicators such university enrollment in CS programs show that this is unlikely to be the case.

You are assuming that women are choosing their college degrees in a vacuum. They don't. They ask: can I see myself doing this job? Is this a worthwhile investment? And when they cannot see themselves working in tech, because they see no-one like themselves in IT, they choose other fields.

> Unfortunately, our supply of women is governed by a mostly government run school system that doesn't exist in a world of supply and demand and likes to shift the blame for their ineptitude.

What specific mistakes can you point to? What particular solutions are within reach of the government? Because right now this just looks like shifting responsibility onto the state.


Absolutely right on this first point. I've always suspected my wife would have been a good programmer (she destroyed me on the logic games section of the LSAT, which imo correlates with engineering reasoning ability: http://www.volokh.com/posts/1198455392.shtml). But she never even considered it, partly because she didn't want to choose a field in which she'd be facing all the hurdles of being a minority.


I feel like "choosing to go into it" is maybe the wrong model. Like, as far as I can recall I didn't choose to go into programming, computers were just there and I could write programs for them.

Like, I didn't choose to go into software development and so learnt to code, I chose to go into software development because I could code.

Maybe it's different for "career programmers," if such a thing even exists.


I think a lot of it is what society expects of people. I don't think most people ever have a moment when they say "Let me sit down and think about all the things I can do with my life." A lot of people develop their loves and what they think is "cool" at a very young age, and a lot of that is influenced by what they absorb from their parents, teachers, TV, etc.

If you're like me, you probably thought of yourself as smart, and had a short list of "smart things that would be cool when I grow up." Astronaut, doctor, computers, stuff like that.

The movie War Games was honestly important to me and my career. I was small and kind of dorky but pretty smart (at least, that was what all the adults told me, I suspect even that is partly a self-fulfilling prophecy) but Matthew Broderick showed me how cool that could be. I could see myself in him. And, you know, there were TV shows and movies that made me want to be an astronaut too. I'm not saying War Games was some seminal moment in my life. But it was an influence, for sure.

And when I told people I wanted to do that, they never made a face. Or they suggested it on their own "What do you want to be when you grow up? Are you going to be a scientist?" You know what people say to my girl? "Are you going to be a nurse/ballerina/etc when you grow up?" We all pick up on this kind of thing at a young age, and it shapes our perceptions of where we fit.

Women choosing what fields they go into is shaped by their role-models. Do they see female programmers on TV? Do they know any family members that are programmers? That kind of thing. Fixing this has to start somewhere.


Is this inherently bad? That would imply that, for systemic reasons, girls are not "brought up" to enjoy computing. Is there harm in girls having different preferences, even if they are driven by the culture? Aren't most preferences driven by culture? You raise interesting points. I believe we should be motivating girls who show interest, but is there harm if no interest is shown?


> I believe we should be motivating girls who show interest, but is there harm if no interest is shown?

The question then becomes why interest isn't shown in the first place.

You could argue, as the "manifesto" writer did, that there's some kind of innate biological explanation. To me, that's a pretty extraordinary claim and requires extraordinary proof. It's true that there are some differences between the sexes. Women do a bit better on some mental tests than men and vice versa. But how much of that is biology and how much is upbringing? For instance, from an early age, studies show parents make girls say "please" more than they do for boys, and emphasize sharing. So do women fair better on some emotional tests because of some innate biology or because we've emphasized that kind of thing literally since they could talk? It's really really hard to tease these things apart. And it's so hard because those differences are tiny. If we assumed those differences really are 100% biological (again, a big assumption), it might explain why Computer Science would be 55% men, and 45% women. It wouldn't explain the huge disparity we see today.

So if the reason women don't show interest isn't biological, what is it? A further complicating factor to the whole discussion is we're talking about why women aren't in computer science now. It hasn't always been this way. Historically, the field of computing had lots of women. A lot of women went from "human computers" who did math by hand to programming the early mainframes (the movie Hidden Figures shows a time at NASA when this was happening). While a gender gap has always existed, it used to be a lot smaller. Women made up about 1/3 of people with CS degrees in the late 70s and early 80s. But as the STEM gender gap has been closing everywhere else, it's actually gotten wider in CS, and only CS. Why? The "it's biology and girl brains are different" argument can't account for that. Biology didn't change.

What did change was society. Movies like Weird Science and War Games (my favorite) came out. The "cool hacker" entered Pop culture, and the stereotype they settled on was a boy. Girls were a lot less likely to have computers in the home as well. This is an interesting article (http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2014/10/21/357629765/when-...) that talks about how early home computers were marketed as a toy to buy for boys.

It's like we as a society decided that computers fell into the "boy stuff" category with GI Joe and baseball, not the "girl stuff" category like Barbie and softball.

I think it all adds up to a pretty convincing argument that biology has nothing (or very, very little) to do with it.


>You could argue, as the "manifesto" writer did, that there's some kind of innate biological explanation. To me, that's a pretty extraordinary claim and requires extraordinary proof.

I don't understand why people think this is such an extraordinary claim. It would be extraordinary if the sexes were exactly equal. There are very obvious and enormous differences between men and women in numerous areas. Why would we expect them to come out exactly equal?

But if you want stronger evidence, try this: http://sci-hub.cc/10.1111/j.1751-9004.2010.00320.x

>Results show that gender differences in Big Five personality traits are ‘small’ to ‘moderate,’ with the largest differences occurring for agreeableness and neuroticism (respective ds = 0.40 and 0.34; women higher than men). In contrast, gender differences on the people–things dimension of interests are ‘very large’ (d= 1.18), with women more people-oriented and less thing-oriented than men. Gender differences in personality tend to be larger in gender-egalitarian societies than in gender-inegalitarian societies, a finding that contradicts social role theory but is consistent with evolutionary, attributional, and social comparison theories. In contrast, gender differences in interests appear to be consistent across cultures and over time, a finding that suggests possible biologic influences.

The point about differences in personality was brought up in the Google memo and perhaps explains your "please" thing. But look at the "interest in people vs interest in things" statistic. A d value of 1.18 is enormous. That means 93% of men are more "thing oriented" than the average women. And that's assuming there is no noise in the measurement, likely the true value is even higher!

There's also this later on in the document:

>When Del Giudice computed the Mahalanobis D for gender differences in Big Five traits, based on a published data set, he found that although the mean d for gender differences in individual Big Five traits was 0.27 (conventionally considered to be ‘small’), the Mahalanobis D was in contrast 0.84, suggesting a relatively large mean separation of men and women in the multivariate ‘space’ of personality


The problem is two-fold. First, how do you distinguish how much of those results are innate from how much are the result of how we socialize girls? Second, how do you get from "men are more thing oriented" to "men prefer programming."

To give an example: In the U.S., teaching is consider a woman's profession, because it involves "nurturing." But in India, teaching is a man's profession, because it involves training the next generation workforce to participate in the economy. Even if you suppose women are more "nurturing" innately, that doesn't explain any particular demographic distribution among, say, teachers.

Another example is the fact that 60% of accountants are women. Accounting is not only about "things" rather than people, but it's often about completely abstract "things" (e.g. accrued tax credits). Women also are more "agreeable." But within, for example, the legal profession, the cooperative practice of transactional law has a lower representation of women than the conflict-oriented area of litigation.

Within STEM: over 40% of math majors are women, but only about 20% of CS majors. In other words, "social" and "people-oriented" women evidently prefer a field where people work almost completely alone on completely abstract concepts. Meanwhile, Pinterest's engineering team is almost all men.

The point isn't whether biological differences exist. The point is whether the evidence for biological differences explains what we observe in reality. And it really doesn't (not without egregious handwaving, anyway).


>First, how do you distinguish how much of those results are innate from how much are the result of how we socialize girls?

There have been a number of experiments trying to remove all cultural influences from kids and see what toys they prefer. Despite their best efforts, boys still prefer trucks and girls prefer dolls. Why should we expect the differences in interests to disappear with age?

Second, where do you get the statistic that 40% of math majors are women? Just a quick Google search and I found this: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/11/math-wom...

>In mathematics, just 15 percent of tenure-track positions are held by women, one of the lowest percentages among the sciences, along with computer science (18 percent), and engineering (14 percent)

They are even worse than computer science. This is about exactly what I would expect. (The article of course blames sexism. Since they can't consider any other explanation. But they don't present any evidence to support that.)

Even if the differences aren't perfectly predictive of real world outcomes, so what? I'm not claiming they are. All I'm saying is we shouldn't expect the distribution of interest to be a perfect 50:50 split between men and women. If the personality differences between men and women are as significant as these studies show, it would be very surprising if every profession had a perfect gender ratio.

Computer programming in particular is extremely interest driven. Programmers like programming and do it in their free time. Most of them taught themselves to do it before they studied it formally. As opposed to your other examples like accounting. How many people do accounting in their free time just for fun?


This is one of those situations where you have to exercise your logical reasoning skills. Why the hell would there be an innate gendered preference for a toy that represents something that's existed for only about a hundred years? Indeed, a 2013 study shows that both girls and boys prefer dolls at 5 months: http://www.sciencealert.com/boys-prefer-dolls-to-trucks.

And even if there was a gender difference in terms of preferring trucks to dolls, what would that really be measuring? Again, a five month old couldn't possibly have an association between trucks and building things. You could just as easily be measuring the degree to which infants have an affinity for faces. You can't get from that to a preference for/against CS without a whole lot of handwaving. Which is ultimately the big problem. You're pointing to biological differences and saying that must explain observed occupational differences, without providing any theory of causation. It's an argument that doesn't just have little explanatory power, what explanatory power it does have is based on gendered characterizations. (E.g. hypothesizing women prefer teaching because it's a "nurturing" profession, while ignoring societies that don't view it as a nurturing profession at all, where teaching is male dominated).

As to math preferences, you're comparing tenure track professors, while I was referring to undergraduate degree holders (hence "math majors"). Women earn over 40% of math/stat undergraduate degrees: https://www.aps.org/programs/education/statistics/womenmajor....


I agree with all your points here and I'd like to especially expand on this:

> (E.g. hypothesizing women prefer teaching because it's a "nurturing" profession, while ignoring societies that don't view it as a nurturing profession at all, where teaching is male dominated).

If women don't go into CS because society as a whole views it as a thing-oriented discipline and women are more people-oriented than thing-oriented, this opens up the possibility of reframing CS to be more people-oriented, changing its perception in society, thus causing more women to become interested in CS.

The memo had this to say on that topic:

We can make software engineering more people-oriented with pair programming and more collaboration. Unfortunately, there may be limits to how people-oriented certain roles at Google can be and we shouldn't deceive ourselves or students into thinking otherwise (some of our programs to get female students into coding might be doing this).

Which actually sounds pretty reasonable to me.


While that 2013 study [1] did show that both boys and girls prefer faces to objects at that age, the results seem to support boys having lesser face/object preference than girls. Unfortunately raw data wasn't provided so we can only rely on researcher's conclusions that the difference was not statistically significant for female faces/cars, but was for male faces/stoves, although eyeballing the graphs, the only one where error bars don't overlap is the Real face (female) / Real car. Anyway, every face/object pair has boys showing lesser face preference than girls. I really can't see how this can be cited as disproving innate gender preference differences - at best, it fails to _prove_ them, but still hints at their existence.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3766397/


>a 2013 study shows that both girls and boys prefer dolls at 5 months

Might as well just measure what toys they prefer when they come out of the womb. No shit a five month old has no idea what a truck or a doll is. But by the age of four they will definitely prefer trucks as expected.

>You're pointing to biological differences and saying that must explain observed occupational differences, without providing any theory of causation.

I did provide a theory (things vs people), but it's not really necessary. The original comment suggested that there were no personality or behavioral differences between men and women. This is a ridiculous claim. I have showed there are huge differences between the preferences of men and women.

Why would we expect two different groups with (statistically) different personalities and interests to make exactly the same career choices? I can't necessarily predict which factors are the most relevant, or which traits correlate with which careers and how strongly. Those are specifics. But I would be completely shocked if the correlation between mental and personality traits and career choice is absolutely zero. And if they aren't zero, that will necessarily imply a difference between the genders.

The alternative theory is that "it's all cultural". This theory also makes no specific predictions. No matter what outcome is observed, you can blame it on culture. You can invent a just-so story about how mathematicians are less sexist than programmers or something. It doesn't require or present any evidence. It isn't falsifiable. If one cultural factor is ruled out (e.g. discrimination), you can always make another and shove it in (e.g. "role models".)

If you show evidence that one cultural explanation can't possibly be correct, they just move onto another. E.g. showing that there are the same percentage of female tech workers as female computer science graduates. So they move onto blaming sexism in universities. So you show there are the same percentage of girls interested in computer science in high school. And then the theory moves onto blaming parents for discouraging girls from computers... or something. And I can't think of any possible experiment that could test that and prove it false. So they say "aha, gotcha! It was culture all along!" as if they've proved something.

>E.g. hypothesizing women prefer teaching because it's a "nurturing" profession, while ignoring societies that don't view it as a nurturing profession at all, where teaching is male dominated

The link I posted sort of addressed this. In less egalitarian cultures it's possible differences are more cultural. E.g. Indians straight up discriminate against female teachers and don't even make it an option. Or Indian parents forcing their girls to learn computer science because they see it as a way out of poverty. But as cultures become more egalitarian, gender differences will become more determined by biology. The west generally gives children a lot more freedom to choose their career and doesn't discriminate by sex. So gender preference will become a lot more important in such a society.


This article [0] discusses and expands upon many of the questions you asked.

0: http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/08/07/contra-grant-on-exagger...


> in India, teaching is a man's profession

Any citation on this? i have seen most teachers being female...


Not a hugely reliable source, but this article suggests that most teachers are women in urban areas:

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-teachers-day-women-teac...


> To me, that's a pretty extraordinary claim and requires extraordinary proof.

The extraordinary claim here is that there are less women in tech due to sexism from men and we have yet to see the extraordinary evidence.

> So do women fair better on some emotional tests because of some innate biology or because we've emphasized that kind of thing literally since they could talk?

Evolution probably favoured caring mothers, you can observe this in animals as well.

> And it's so hard because those differences are tiny. If we assumed those differences really are 100% biological (again, a big assumption), it might explain why Computer Science would be 55% men, and 45% women. It wouldn't explain the huge disparity we see today.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/08/0831_050831_...

"Chimps, Humans 96 Percent the Same, Gene Study Finds"

4% doesn't really explain why we are totally different form chimps. Not everything scales linear manner.

> Historically, the field of computing had lots of women.

That's both true and not, computing used to be radically different historically then it is right now.

> Why? The "it's biology and girl brains are different" argument can't account for that. Biology didn't change.

What if CS changed or what you do with your CS degree changed?

> that talks about how early home computers were marketed as a toy to buy for boys.

I can debunk that for you: look at countries where computers weren't marketed and have the still ratios.

> It's like we as a society decided that computers fell into the "boy stuff" category with GI Joe and baseball, not the "girl stuff" category like Barbie and softball.

So all companies ignored half of their potential market? It's possible, however, it's hard to explain though why would every single company would throw away half of their market.

> I think it all adds up to a pretty convincing argument that biology has nothing (or very, very little) to do with it.

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


Jurassic Park is one of THE seminal movies of the 90s and the female kid in the show saves the day because she "knows Unix". That was pretty cool. Though it was only a small role, not the lead like in War Games.


> If you're like me, you probably thought of yourself as smart, and had a short list of "smart things that would be cool when I grow up." Astronaut, doctor, computers, stuff like that.

I think it was magazines. Which weren't gendered. I don't think I've seen any male programmers on TV, and I don't have family members who were programmers, and I was interested in computers before I knew that programming was a job.

As far as I can tell, computers were just innately interesting.


Well, there's gendered and then there's gendered.

Some things are explicitly gendered, like GI Joe or Barbie.

Some things are implicitly gendered, like Legos. There's nothing about then that makes them "for boys." But most stores put them in the boys aisle. Lego started making "girl sets" that are all pinky not too long ago just so they could go in the girl section.

As a kid, where were the magazines with computer stuff in the store? Were they next to Tigerbeat? Probably not. It's little stuff like that. That's not the whole story, of course. But what we find interesting is at least partly due to society.


The magazines were all together in a single magazine rack.

I'm not saying there's not gendered influences, I'm saying my personal life story doesn't have positive-reinforcing gendered elements that I can tell.


All sorts of social biases play into that too. Growing up, I "wanted" to be an engineer. After a mid-20s career change, I ended up as a lawyer. I love it, but not only did I never consider it as a kid, nothing ever prompted me to think about the possibility. Engineering is the societal default for a smart brown immigrant kid.

I'm already seeing this play out with my daughter. At four, she's highly gender normative, which means she wants to have pink everything and play with girls, not boys.[1] But she also loves puzzles, numbers, legos, and building things. That came to a head recently, because she ended up being the only girl in one of her science camps. At age four, she's already grappling with the tension between her gender identity and what kinds of activities society tells her are associated with her gender.

[1] One of my grievances about the Google Anti-Diversity Memo is it makes an erroneous assumption that just because children show some gendered preferences at a young age (e.g. trucks versus dolls), that somehow explains a gendered preference for/against programming as a career choice.


How can you tell the difference between your daughter being pushed by social convention towards gender normative activities, and your daughter's possible innate preferences leading her towards those activities? Likewise, how do you know the tension is not between her peers and society trying to make her girl-like versus her innate preferences towards science, building, etc, and instead between your expectations for your daughter and her innate preferences. In other words, isn't it as likely that your opinions are pushing her towards science as it is that society is pushing her towards girl-toys?

Diversity programs from big businesses have always seemed sick to me. Why does Google want more diversity? Ultimately, because they want to double the supply of engineers and reduce their hiring costs. The idea that I should subvert my daughter's innate interests, and encourage her to follow pursuits that are foreign to her, just so that Google can save money on employee salaries is perverse.

In my view, true diversity is valuing what makes people different. School teachers tend to be female and software developers tend to be male. "Diversity" shouldn't be taken to mean that 50% of developers should be female and 50% of school teachers male. That's not diverse, it's uniform. Instead, diversity should be recognizing that a school teacher isn't inferior to a software developer.


> How can you tell the difference between your daughter being pushed by social convention towards gender normative activities, and your daughter's possible innate preferences leading her towards those activities? Likewise, how do you know the tension is not between her peers and society trying to make her girl-like versus her innate preferences towards science, building, etc, and instead between your expectations for your daughter and her innate preferences. In other words, isn't it as likely that your opinions are pushing her towards science as it is that society is pushing her towards girl-toys?

The categorical error you make, like the author of the anti-diversity memo, is conflating gender identity with a specific set of "boy" versus "girl" activities. Just because children have strong gender identity does not mean that you can categorize any given activity as "girl-like" versus "boy-like." I.e. there is nothing to show that liking pink unicorns causes someone to have a preference against computer science.

As to our own daughter, I don't want her to be an engineer or a scientist. I want her to be a lawyer, like her mom and myself. I also hated school and don't place much emphasis on education. She's the one who wants to do puzzles and math worksheets and build legos.

Of course, that's anecdotal and doesn't prove anything. The real evidence, to me, is that this association between math/science and men differs dramatically between countries. In Bangladesh, more than 80% of teachers are men (overrepresented compared to the total labor force). And in India, half of science undergraduates are women: http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/women-sciences. It's really a different societal mindset about what professions are appropriate for women versus men. For example, I grew up hearing my Bangladeshi mother complain about how the teachers in U.S. schools are women, when men make better teachers.


Nobody grows up learning how to resect tumors or construct an appellate brief in their own home. It's only in computer science that we have the expectation that the "true" pipeline for talent in our field will start at age 11. It's great that some people can get comfortable programming early, but it's not reasonable to suggest that most of the people in our field will do so.


I chose to learn to code because I was 12 and wanted to make games. I suppose a lot of other developers today were introduced to coding via the prospect of game development, and video games were/are heavily marketed toward male customers. In fact, you start seeing women engineers dropping from software fields at an accelerated pace as consoles and arcades were becoming a cultural norm in the 80s.


Hell, I'd go a step farther: I don't even particularly like software development as a career, but I picked up programming early because I liked it as a hobby and needed to program & assemble computers & configure servers to do stuff I wanted to do and... it just became the path of least resistance to a decent-paying career. It's hard to turn away from it when you're just walking into places cold in high school and college and landing relatively high-paying jobs on the first try, but I definitely didn't choose it like sitting down and saying "I want to be a software developer, so I better learn programming now". FFS I did most of a Poli-Sci/IS degree my first attempt at college because actual classes about programming/computers seemed like an intolerably dull thing to do (I was proven right when I later picked up my CS degree—god was it boring).

So,

> Like, I didn't choose to go into software development and so learnt to code, I chose to go into software development because I could code.

Yep.


> You are assuming that women are choosing their college degrees in a vacuum. They don't. They ask: can I see myself doing this job? Is this a worthwhile investment? And when they cannot see themselves working in tech, because they see no-one like themselves in IT, they choose other fields

I have a hunch you graduated a relatively long time ago and do not socialize with people who are currently in school. People do not have to declare major for two first years in school. Outside those doing pre-med or pharmacy students do not need to take any hard science/math/cs classes ( the later in a lot of schools taught in math departments ) for years. Early juniors are the first ones who need to decide on a major and boy is CS low on that list ( why would one want to spend next two years cramming math, CS, and physics into the schedule class after class when one can take a few creative courses and graduate with liberal arts degree? ).

> What specific mistakes can you point to? What particular solutions are within reach of the government? Because right now it just looks like you're shifting responsibility onto the state.

Allowing Jack and Suzy to take $100k loans to for a degree in operating a coffee machine.


Echoing another user: I graduated within the past ten years.

Within a group of fields, you are correct. In the business school, the first two years were all the same. In engineering, though, CS classes started first semester freshman year. In the first two years of undergrad, the typical CS degree program had at least 6 courses: 2x intro, Discrete Math, Algo, Automata, and something else.

So perhaps if one had gone EE and decided they wanted CS, they would 'only' be a year back. Going from one college to another within Uni more than a year in, is almost starting over.


> eople do not have to declare major for two first years in school. Outside those doing pre-med or pharmacy students do not need to take any hard science/math/cs classes ( the later in a lot of schools taught in math departments ) for years. Early juniors are the first ones who need to decide on a major and boy is CS low on that list ( why would one want to spend next two years cramming math, CS, and physics into the schedule class after class when one can take a few creative courses and graduate with liberal arts degree? ).

This is very dependent on your school and program. At my school, the engineers selected their specialty at the end of, I believe, freshman year. My program was so rigorous with specific requirements that if I didn't start them during freshman year, I could not have graduated in 4 years. As it stood, I missed a semester due to illness and was set back an entire year because of it.


>Allowing Jack and Suzy to take $100k loans to for a degree in operating a coffee machine.

This right here is the problem fundamentally. The good thing is google seems to at least pretend to have an interest in changing things. They've tried running their own coding bootcamps for minorities and women.

If we really want to fix the problem of diversity in tech then what we really need is a systemic change in how learning as an adult is handled and viewed. I feel like most of my peers did not learn to program while they where at university but learned it while they where younger through google. Perhaps if we could find a way to provide the same socialization and critical thinking exercises that universities provide without the incredible administrative overhead we could make it easy for people to transition into difficult STEM fields. This would be a win for pretty much everyone except the bankers and school administrators.


This is very dependent on the program. At my university calc, discrete math, java, and data structures were all expected to be completed freshman year.


> Outside those doing pre-med or pharmacy students do not need to take any hard science/math/cs classes ( the later in a lot of schools taught in math departments ) for years.

This was not the case at my university at all.


Commenting on my own post:

It will be worse: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14965074

We are already starting to drop the admission standards to achieve equality of outcomes.


> You are assuming that women are choosing their college degrees in a vacuum. They don't. They ask: can I see myself doing this job? Is this a worthwhile investment? And when they cannot see themselves working in tech, because they see no-one like themselves in IT, they choose other fields.

If anyone, man or woman, decides to pursuit a given career because they can see others like them in the field, then really, I am grateful they don't. I want to work with people who deeply care about their choices. Who are dreamers. Who are willing to give a lot to fulfill their drive for knowledge. Who learns out of sheer curiosity of the world around them. Who can ask a meaningful questions. Who believe in what they do. Not with a sheep who chooses to follow other sheep.

If people want diversity at work, they should start with elementary school first. Do not assume any biological equality or lack of it up front but also do not ENFORCE any. Just give people equal rights to study and to make their own choices.


The questions that you're responding to aren't often conscious questions. People are incredibly malleable, and generally do what they can to "fit in." If computing had the same male-stigma as, say, nursing, I'm not sure I would have majored in CS. Subconscious effects are difficult to deal with, but real nevertheless.


I would have preferred 90% female classes or workplaces. My thinking is I would have a better chance to be hired if I could standout from the crowd.

The push to 50/50 would cause me great concern as I would lose my advantage. Do any women feel the same way with the situation now?


I think that is the core of the problem. People who need to see other people do something first don't have the burning desire.

I've countless interviews with vets. When a person becomes a vet they do it because they want to help animals or want money and to help but rarely because someone else did it before them who looks like them.


@wolco: "... don't have a burning desire" @feeping: "... computers were just there ... because I could code" @wst_: "... who deeply care about their choices"

I disagree with the above sentiments, despite those being excellent reasons or attitudes to choose a field/calling/career. It is not necessary for others to arrive at a path in the same way that other people do. It is entirely possible that the burning desire, inclination, and careful choice occur after being accepted into a program or after more exposure into a coding environment. It is also very likely that such desire, inclination, and choice are discouraged by not having relatable peers or role models. I would find it much harder to fit and grow into a role if from the very beginning I was expected to already have inclinations and reasons that are similar to my coworkers.


Why would you interview with vets ?

Asking because I (female) ended up being one without any desire and I am now working my way into CS.


Good point about women not choosing college degrees in a vacuum. Would the same logic explain why many more women than men attend college?


Yes, actually. A lot of professions that are dominated by women (currently at least) require some sort of bachelors degree e.g. nursing, lawyers. Or conversely: the jobs where you can have a good life without a college degree tend to be more male dominated (e.g. blue collar manufacturing).


Oh, those bastard mysoginistic blue collar male manufacturers, keeping the good manufacturing jobs away from females who are forced to settle with being lawyers.


Perhaps men find the trades to be a more viable option.


Ah, I see, so when males are underrepresented in a field it's because they have more viable options elsewhere, but when females are underrepresented, it's because they are being discriminated against.


It's also possible for there to be multiple bottlenecks in the pipeline where women and girls are dropping out - including elementary school, college, entry level, and experienced engineers. There seems to be evidence that there's an effect at each of these levels that causes women to switch to other fields.

If so, the existence of a problem at one stage in the pipeline is a poor excuse for failing to address a bottleneck at a later stage. Particularly when the actor in question is mostly involved in the later stages.


> The right way to fix the imbalance is to increase the supply of white onions. In the real world, farmers would begin switching to white onions and the supply would increase.

I think you've got it backwards. In the real world, supply is increased to meet demand. Farmers aren't going to grow more white onions just to see what happens. They've got to believe it's going to be a more profitable crop because it is in demand.

To extend your food analogy, it's like when Paul Prudhomme introduced blackened redfish at fine dining establishment Commander's Palace in the 1980's. Redfish went from being a "trash" fish to a species overfished to the point of near extinction. Importantly, nothing changed about the redfish itself. What changed was a new emphasis on using it in a dish.

Similarly, lobster went from being a peasant or prisoner food to a delicacy when railways and canning helped extend the demand beyond the northeast US.

What if a big part of solving the pipeline problem is simply for companies to demand more diverse candidates because leadership finally start to recognize the research that suggests that diverse teams outperform homogeneous teams on many metrics? I think this has to be the case because no one is getting into an employment pipeline that ends with what is perceived to be a hostile working environment.


> What if a big part of solving the pipeline problem is simply for companies to demand more diverse candidates because leadership finally start to recognize the research that suggests that diverse teams outperform homogeneous teams on many metrics?

Last I read, the Economist said there is an advantage to diversity when attempting to be creative, but in other scenarios the advantage goes to the homogeneous team.

https://www.economist.com/news/business/21692865-making-most...

I think it was that article I read, can't tell because I'm over my article limit.


Does "early bias" theory include the leaky pipe line model? Ie: University students that fail a exam will switch program at a higher rate if their gender is a minority. In polls, they are also more likely to question their decision in career choice and have more self doubt about their ability to finish the program. The data that I have seen on this is that it is gender neutral, ie that the doubt caused by being a local minority is similar for both men and women.

To make up numbers, if a student has 3 times a high risk of switching a program after a failed exam, the chance that they will graduates will be significant lower. Having a gender segregated education fixes this, but as soon the graduate enters the work market the same phenomenon happen after a failed interview unless they only seek work which is also gender segregated.


Might be worth remembering that companies like Google have significant links with education systems, so they can address their hiring not just at the "who is applying" stage. Also, regarding "lowering the bar" - remember there is a lot more to building a SWE team than finding people who can do the best whiteboard coding challenges. Coding skills can be improved, diversity of backgrounds is also a team strength and one that can't be taught. So, one would hope that by forcing hiring diversity now, companies 1) force the white dude monoculture to break down, encouraging 2) more women to see SWE as an appealing opportunity, making 3) their future hiring pipeline and hiring committees sufficiently diverse that they don't need to force numbers.

Also worth remembering that women CS grads entering the field used to be climbing at the same rate as lawyers and other similar fields, then something changed in the mid-1980s and while the other fields progressed ever-nearer 50%, CS numbers took a nosedive. I don't have good research into exactly why that happened, but I'm guessing women didn't say "oh we're doing 32bit computers now? Nah you keep this one bros" ;)


My guess is that software became known as a "wild" career around the same time. I think the boom-bust cycles and gold Rush mentality are the main contributors to women leaving the profession.

How do we fix this? I don't think the silicon valley startup will ever appeal to women. Live in a closet for three years for a 10% chance to make a million dollars. Those odds only attract people with an appetite for risk. Mostly, unsurprisingly, young men. The problem with that is that silicon valley represents the field.

To get more women we need to change the image of the profession. I'm of the opinion that females just don't want to do software development and that decision is made really young.

Anecdotal, but I know plenty of guys that tinkered with PC's as young as 10 years old, and zero women that did so. It's seen as a boy thing, like cars.


The thing that always got me as a kid was that as a boy, if you showed any signs of a technical aptitude in STEM and your parents found out, they'd practically have your life planned out right then and there, you'd get lots of "Oh, you can be an engineer then", or "you could become a scientist", but girls showing aptitude in STEM would basically get "Oh that's nice, tell me if you need anything". Girls seemed to have the same if not better grades on average, but girls in the advanced classes never seemed to have been pushed in the same way.

That's my memory of it anyway, boys got pushed to go into STEM the second they showed any aptitude, girls were just sort of expected to keep it up.


In other words, pigeonholing them into careers? Girls get to "be whatever you want to, darling". Boys have to make sure they bring home a paycheck and support their family. Why?


Because someone has to raise the kids, and mothers _usually_ but not always take on that role voluntarily. Especially since infants are biologically tied to their mother for food.

My wife is more educated than I, with a masters degree. But she wanted to stay home, work part time, and not have our kids raised by a third party.

The traditional family structure for Homo sapiens has strong biological and environmental roots, which in turn caused "societal traditions". Changing that in a few generations seems quite unlikely.


Sure, so why can't we accept that then, if that's the case?


>To get more women we need to change the image of the profession. I'm of the opinion that females just don't want to do software development and that decision is made really young.

I think the change we need to make is less about the profession and more about the people in the profession. We need to make it a field that seems open to women. Currently it isn't. I don't have a daughter, but I'd be very hesitant to suggest to her to go into the SW field.

BTW, my sister tinkered with PCs as a kid. It is interesting that she went on to get a degree in statistics and me in computer science. She works in policy now, and me in CS -- despite the fact that both of us had very similar achievement paths through HS. To this day she is better at most maths than I am, but most people seem to assume I'm better (at least when it comes up).


One of the great lessons I've learned in life is that you can't change other people. Indeed in this case it seems like the "old boys club" in software development is the result of the gender balance not the cause. I can't think of a single male dominated profession that isn't seen in that light.

If we're serious about fixing the ratio it needs to be done with policy and young, well before students graduate highschool.


This was my initial thought as well but I remembered listening to this podcast and I think it touches on this idea and expands on it. http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2016/07/22/487069271/episo...

One of the examples in the podcast expands on the viewpoint that computers are for men and that idea is ingrained even to the level of the family, so computers are kept in the sons bedroom so incidentally the daughter had less access to it.

Its not suggested by guidance counselors to females when looking to select electives in junior high school.

So if they are seen as a male hobby or interest, at a time when what your peers think is so important, girls are less likely to want to venture into that area and be outside the norm.


I don't think people necessarily understand which career they choose. When girl wants to become ballerinas it is presumably because they have some idea that it is glamorous, not that it entails working hard under strict discipline for many years. They figure that out later.

What happened in the 80s was likely because computers went from being for business to being a hobby with the home computer [0]. I would imagine that because men dominated technical professions at the time most computers were bought by men, which then shared their interests with their sons [1]. Programmers like John Carmack and Linus Torvalds is born around 1970 and would be teenagers when home computers became available [2]. Games went from adventure quests and puzzles to shooters like quake and duke nukem. Social settings like mailing lists became more important to learn programming through open source. So the cycle continues.

Of course just like girl, boys probably didn't know what the profession actually meant. They wanted to be programmers because of things like video games, but ended up making business systems.

How do you fix it? Many CS programs are antiquated and changing the curriculum to software engineering doesn't seem to help much to attract a broader group of people. If the large companies are serious about this, they should do what the banks did and train smart people with more generic backgrounds.

[0]

1977 Atari 2600

1977 Apple II

1981 Sinclair ZX81

1981 BBC Micro

1982 Commodore 64

1983 WarGames (movie)

1983 Nintendo Entertainment System

1985 Amiga

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

[1]

"When I was 5 or 6, my parents got me a Commodore 64."

"My dad left his old Atari (2600 Junior, I think) in my room and I found basic on there towards the end of grade school."

"1982-83 (grammar to high school age): My parents bought a word processor in the 80's that you could also program."

"In 1982 my Dad brought home a Sirius microcomputer for his work."

"My dad brought home a 386 IBM-PC so he could learn AutoCAD."

"I got started with BASICA on a Tandy 1000. My dad had a newer computer at the time but he certainly wouldn't let me use it."

"I'm not sure if this counts; the birth of my hacking started on my dad's lap, doing amateur radio."

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1015879

[2]

"It was his maternal grandfather, Leo Toerngvist, a professor of statistics at the University of Helsinki, who had the greatest influence on the young Linus. In the mid-1970s, Toerngvist bought one of the first personal computers, a Commodore Vic 20."

http://www.linfo.org/linus.html


As a boy, and a "nerd", I grew up on the VIC20 and C64 from grades 4 to 9 in the 80s, later to become one of the "Amiga generation" I guess. My friends were other boys who liked to tinker / obsess with computers. We weren't amongst the cool crowd then, but it didn't matter (too much). Number of girls I met who ever tinkered with one? None. It just didn't happen. (Asterisk: This was true for a sample size of one Norwegian school; YMMV.)

We would have loved it if anyone did, alas that wasn't the case. I'm glad things have changed and you're no longer an outcast if you're a geeky kid; I feel that I paid a big personal price for being that way inclined, but later on there was a payoff in that it was easy to get into programming as a career, when the Internet started happening in the mid late 90s.

If my next kid is a girl, she'll have no shortage of computer science ahead of her. My son's already way deep. :)


> I know plenty of guys that tinkered with PC's as young as 10 years old, and zero women that did so. It's seen as a boy thing, like cars.

The interesting thing, to me, is that you can't look at those 10-year-olds in isolation. My experience mirrors yours and, yet, if you look back further, I'll bet you find that those 10-year-old tinkerers almost all have some history with Legos or other such construction toy that, very early, started building the guess-fail-iterate problem solving model that I believe is so important to computer aptitude.

One of the side effects to being "good with computers" is that you end up getting asked to do a lot of tech support. Over the years, I've seen so many people who are so afraid of doing something wrong that they can't figure out how to do what they want despite being otherwise intelligent enough. They don't realize what's perfectly summed up here: https://xkcd.com/627/

Some of the most important and least controversial efforts to address gender diversity in tech are the people trying to make better toys for young girls. As I've heard it stated, we have a shortage of engineers, not a shortage of princesses and our toy aisles should reflect that.


> Some of the most important and least controversial efforts to address gender diversity in tech are the people trying to make better toys for young girls. As I've heard it stated, we have a shortage of engineers, not a shortage of princesses and our toy aisles should reflect that.

This SMBC comic sums up the issue perfectly: https://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=1883

On a side note, I've also noticed that the bulk of my female classmates in college and the bulk of my female coworkers since then have been either Indian or Chinese. It might be worth exploring why Indian and Chinese women are more willing to work in tech than western women.


I have noticed the same. In these cultures it's more acceptable to be interested in such things. Probably because financial success is more important in such countries, gender stereotypes be damned.

Still, it proves that a better gender ratio is definitely possible in the US as well


> Probably because financial success is more important in such countries, gender stereotypes be damned

I don't know that you can say that financial success is more important in those countries, but I think you can say that tech is a more viable path to that financial success in those countries since careers like finance, law and medicine (the stereotypical high-paid professions in the US) mean working in their own country rather than coming to the US. If you're primarily motivated by money, as an American, there are surer paths to getting it than writing code. But as a foreigner that wants to work in the US (and therefore make more money), writing code is one of the best ways to do that.


Its because they have less options for financial security in their family.

If you dont believe me ask them yourself, but make a clear distinction between immigrant and first gen.


There's a pretty convincing argument that the drop in apparent interest in computing from girls was caused by computers and computer games being marketed squarely at boys:

https://qz.com/911737/silicon-valleys-gender-gap-is-the-resu...

The arguments that there are fundamental differences between men and women doesn't seem to prevent much higher proportions of female programmers in India, or Romania, or China.

As Adam Grant says, while there are some (small) differences between men and women, they're "not biologically determined"

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/differences-between-men-women...


> The arguments that there are fundamental differences between men and women doesn't seem to prevent much higher proportions of female programmers in India, or Romania, or China.

Suppose that the much higher proportions of female programmers in poorer countries might be because their choice is more limited; there is way more incentive in a poor country to want to land a fairly secure and well paid job, because you risk starving if you don't.

Going for a liberal arts degree (or similar) in India, Romania or China would then be discouraged.

Conversely, in the West, people are more free to pursue whatever profession they may like, because they most likely won't starve if they do.

I'm not saying that this would be the only explanation for the gender gap, but I do think the explanation involves many more factors than 'computer games in the 80s'.

I personally think it's naïve to dismiss inherent biological preferences entirely, especially since there are many studies that corroborate that they _do exist_.


Uh huh, there are potential other explanations, yes. Are they evidenced? Not to my knowledge.

> I personally think it's naïve to dismiss inherent biological preferences entirely...

"naïve", huh...

So, Adam Grant is one of the world's foremost experts in this area. Did you read his fully-sourced article, linked from my parent post, that refutes this exact "biological" point?


From the studies I've read it seems clear that there are biological differences between males and females. This was not fashionable to claim 20 or so years ago, but I suspect the dismissal was mostly based in politics, and the current trend in psychology is starting to acknowledge this.

The problem is that many people seem to forget that the difference applies to averages, and therefore mean very little on an individual level.

In other words, it's not far fetched to assume that a part of the gender gap in STEM/CS is because of biology, since an average trend would influence said gap. Conversely, it's incorrect to claim that a specific woman is more ill-suited doing STEM/CS than a man, just because she's a woman.

Also, I didn't go through all the references, but Adam Grant (at least indirectly) cites the 1995 study by Steele & Aronson which has been proved to be of shoddy quality. Like everyone else who denies any possibility of biology influencing how people think, he seems to have a political axe to grind. I therefore consider his opinions somewhat unreliable.


Do you have any better studies to cite for what you're saying? Because if you don't you shouldn't be saying what you're saying.


Regarding cognitive differences between men and women having a biological component: https://stanmed.stanford.edu/2017spring/how-mens-and-womens-...

Regarding the quality and replicability of stereotype threat studies, that came in vogue after the seminal Steele & Aronson 1995 paper:

https://replicationindex.wordpress.com/tag/does-stereotype-t...

https://replicationindex.wordpress.com/2017/04/07/hidden-fig...

https://heterodoxacademy.org/2015/12/30/is-stereotype-threat...


You might also want to read this fully-sourced response to Grant: https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/08/07/contra-grant-on-exagge... (and also Grant's response to that response in the comments).


Yep, I think they fairly strongly agree that biological differences are not huge and that interest (which can be strongly swayed by culture) is that main contributing factor in the studies the memo cited.

I think Scott Alexander makes one rather poor argument towards the end of his debate with Grant.

> I agree this is surprising. But let’s also not claim it supports the sexism theory, unless you think people in computer science became more sexist between 1980 and today for some reason.

Attitudes change precisely that quickly. Look at the massive change in attitudes towards homosexuality.

Then look at the way computers were marketed directly at boys in exactly that period https://qz.com/911737/silicon-valleys-gender-gap-is-the-resu...


> I think Scott Alexander makes one rather poor argument towards the end of his debate with Grant.

The way I read it, Grant claims that the decline can't have a biological explanation, Scott agrees but counter-claims that it does not necessarily follow the reason must be sexism then, and then goes on to provide a plausible non-sexism explanation. Are you reading it differently?

Regarding the article you referenced, I'm not sure I understand how it supports the sexism theory either. Up to about '83 women CS share rapidly and steadily increased (indicating decreasing sexism, I presume?), then Apple started marketing to boys, video games producers started marketing to boys, and because of that sexism within the industry immediately and dramatically increased? Or is it "sexism increased, and that caused Apple and video game producers to market to boys"? What's the narrative here?

More object-level, or nitpicking, if you will - the Apple ad they referenced didn't actually market "to boys" - nobody would buy an Apple II for a boy in 1985, it was too expensive, around $5K in today's money. The ad merely used a boy as the lead character, and no, mischievously pressing a button on the girl's keyboard does not constitute "teasing girls' computer skills".


Back in the 80s, the computers (Vic20s/C64s) sold themselves to my group of friends in grades 4-8; we were not subject to any marketing in Norway. Games were not the primary motivator, BASIC programming was.

Alas, I knew no girls who were into this even the slightest.


Sure. I can't speak to what influenced you or friends, or the girls you knew... just that it's not a worldwide phenomenon, and is restricted to CS rather than other STEM fields... so seems to fit. There may be no way to ever know for sure.


Bill Gates happend, solidifying the nerd image.


> You imply bias in the the hiring process is what is causing the gender imbalance in tech. Indicators such university enrollment in CS programs show that this is unlikely to be the case.

Or it implies that the bias has a more profound origin than simply hiring practices

(the funnel tapers earlier in the process)


But not as early as conception, that would be too early. /s /s


I agree mostly. But there may also be a cyclical effect where women don't go into CS because they don't see women working in tech. In which case Google shouldn't necessarily have a legal obligation to hire more women, but there may be a moral argument or even a long-term self-interest argument (i.e. increase supply of good engineers) for it.


If women get paid more for the same qualifications because the supply of women is lower and the demand is higher, then market forces will eventually make sure education at all levels gets fixed. There are many ways to solve the same problem. Fixing a government run school directly sounds like one of the harder ways to go about it.


> If women get paid more for the same qualifications

Isn't that kind of the definition of the gender discrimination most companies are trying to avoid?


Women are getting paid measurably less, even by Google at the moment. There are a few decades of underpaid women's salaries to make up for before we can call it even.


People are not onions. People learn. Even if companies will lower the bar on entry for women they will be just forced to educate their employees more on the job. For people just out of school it might seem strange but jobs are where you get most of you useful education.

Is it additional burden on the companies? Sure. But we are fine with taxing companies and placing on them the burden of workers protections and environmental protection. This is just another protection. Protection against reinforcing inequality. I'm not saying it's good but additional education for less educated and more equality in society doesn't seem bad if the only cost is money from the richest corporations especially the ones that get most of their money from advertising which nowaydays is less about informing customer about your product existance and all about everything else.


a) i agree that it's a problem for the whole society not just the corporates. it starts by far earlier as you said

b) your argument is that 50% is currently not possible

most companies are <20% in tech positions and <20-30% for management

a few years ago even <10% [2]

[1] https://pxlnv.com/blog/diversity-of-tech-companies-by-the-nu... [2] https://unreasonable.is/silicon-valley-more-female-engineers...


Yup. 50% is possible if you reject 3-4 men for every woman you hire for a programmer position.

I don't think the percentages in management really matter because you tend to get promoted from lower rungs. Management % probably reflects the programmer hires 5-10 years ago.

We really need to look at the percentage of female applicants. In the ~1000 applications I've seen directly from indeed etc, less than 20% we're female. I didn't count, but it seemed closer to 10%. It's so bad that for some job listings I remember not receiving a single female application for 20+ males.


Is it possible that women switch jobs less frequently than men? Or that they're drawn to different types of companies (e.g. established companies that they expect to have real HR departments and harassment policies, rather than startups that may be exciting but they perceive as presenting a higher risk of being a hostile environment)?


They are drawn to different types of industries less volatile and demanding. They also start fewer companies.

So choices in life means much more than we want to admit.

Of course women are being affected early on just as men but then the discussion should be about that rather than putting the guilt on companies who are just trying to make a business.


i meant that the goal atm is not 50% but to get above the 20%


"The right way to fix the imbalance is to increase the supply of white onions. "

I agree with your point but economist will say that increasing the demand will be a better technique. Supply side will take care of itself. Affirmative actions are usually intended to create an artificial spike in demand for the purpose of greater good. How effective they are is a different matter altogether.


> I'm a proponent for an "early bias" theory

Or maybe women just enjoy doing different kind of things than men.


I agree with most of what you say. Except blaming "a mostly government run school system". I came out OK from a poorly rated public system in California.

Please stop blaming the school system and our government. Our society puts so much emphasis on women looking a certain way; the way they should socialize; they need to be pretty, cheerleaders and subordinate ... Little girls aren't supposed to be nerdy and engineers. That's what society tells them in the movies they watch, the songs they hear and reinforced at home ... Let's get Jane some dolls. We'll give John a lego set. That's the "problem"


> If gender-based diversity programs are responsible for qualified women getting jobs that they otherwise wouldn't have gotten due to bias, then the lack of that program means those women wouldn't have gotten those jobs.

This is a double sword thing. With the program you might hire more qualified women, but also more less qualified women and you might prevent of hiring more qualified men. Because you have to hire women as the diversity program says.

If I were I woman (or belong to minority) I would prefer to be being hired without any diversity program. Imagine being a woman and being hired with this program, does it mean they hired me because I am a woman or because I am the best candidate for the position? (I said woman but applies to any minority group)


As a woman with a disability who got hired by a diversity program, I don't give a fuck. I just need a job. Working at McDonald's sucks balls. If I really couldn't do the job, they could have fired me at the end of my probation period. I'm quite happy to earn my position after I've got it.


At the risk of somewhat generalizing, a disability puts a person at disadvantage. Just being a women isn't a disadvantage.

Regarding your employer being able to potentially firing you, the point isn't that they can fire you but that hiring you based on a diversity program for women could have excluded a more qualified man (not saying that you could not be the most qualified candidate). Firing you later doesn't fix the missed opportunity for that man or the employer.


From what you've said it is obvious that there is some disadvantage to being a women. There is no such thing as the mythical better qualified man. ALL the people interviewed are qualified, they can ALL do the job. Progressive companies do not want the same old same old weird white male dominated culture. They want to attract people with different life experiences, different perspectives, they need diversity. Not a nice to have, need. If they want to attract the best engineer in the world ever and she looks into their office and sees a whole load of middle aged white men she will think 'Nope I don't fit in here'. She was more important for innovative, disruptive company than all those dudes she spied and we lost her because we couldn't manage our hiring process properly. Ugh, what is so hard to understand here??? Diverse is better. There is no lowering of the bar, get over yourselves!


    ALL the people interviewed are qualified, they can ALL do the job
I've interviewed ~100 people at a top tech company, and I really don't think this is the case: the best candidates are much better than the worst ones, even in on-site interviews. The signal isn't perfect, but it's pretty strong.


I don't think the grandparent quite expressed themselves clearly. If there is a group of applicants who happen to be equally qualified, but one type of person in that group is more likely to actually get hired - it's not reasonable to say that hiring a different type of person is taking an opportunity away from a member of the more popular type of person. A black woman getting hired isn't "taking a job away" from a white man. She's qualified, she gets the job.


> based on a diversity program for women could have excluded a more qualified man

In the case of my employer, all the qualified men who might want the job have already applied for it. The diversity program came about because they are actually struggling to find enough qualified candidates, even with generous pay and benefits. The company. No one has missed an opportunity because of me. The company was majority white and male, and they didn't have enough people, so they decided to tap into the vast universe of people who aren't white or male. In my opinion, that's the best possible reason for having a diversity program.


My point is simple. A person should be hired based on their skills/qualifications and potential ability to do the role (based on the experience/interview) and that should be the main and overriding criteria.

Of course, you can have hypothetical scenarios e.g. you have two candidates who are equally qualified and practically match neck to neck and you can only hire one and you have a lack of diversity in your company, sure, you can hire the person who brings more diversity.

However, if you have, say, white male person who is more qualified than, say a non-white female person, and those are your top two picks, then you should choose the former because it is about being most qualified for the role. If the non-white female is most qualified, than she should be chosen. I'm simply advocating meritocracy.

You mentioned that "The diversity program came about because they are actually struggling to find enough qualified candidates" and "he company was majority white and male, and they didn't have enough people, so they decided to tap into the vast universe of people who aren't white or male". I don't understand the first part - were they excluding non-white/non-male people from applying initially? Isn't that unlawful? Why didn't the "vast universe of people who aren't white or male" didn't apply initially and had to be brought in via diversity program?


What makes a person qualified? Experience, usually. If you find that all the qualified - and therefore experienced - people available are white and male, it shows that only white and male people have been able to get experience. That's not necessarily evidence of discrimination, but it still becomes a problem when you run out of experienced/qualified white men who want jobs, as in the case of my company.

They weren't excluding women or minorities, they just weren't finding any qualified ones. Now they are running short of people who are qualified of any color and gender. White men have already had lots of opportunities to get experience, so now they are giving those opportunities to women and minorities explicitly. At some point in the future they'll be able to reap the results of having more experienced people available of whatever gender or color.

Many companies think that it's not their responsibility to train, that the world is full of qualified people who are ready to step in and do whatever job whenever they're needed. It's not working out in the technology sector though. Some companies are getting the message that they have to take people who don't have experience, and give it to them until they are as qualified as they need to be.

In the past it was simply easier for white, male people to get experience, and that's why many companies now find that it's easier to find qualified, experienced white men to fill jobs. Except when it's not. Then they start diversity programs.


It is not just experience that makes a person qualified. A brilliant greenhorn who has the knowledge but not necessarily years of experience is also qualified. Of course an employer may demand not only knowledge but also experience in which case yes, both are required. But in general, qualified does not universally mean experienced.

Based on you wrote now, I found the piece I was unable to understand. What you are saying is that: they were not able to get anybody (white males or otherwise) so they invested in a diversity programme which results in more non-white/non-male candidates getting experience and skills and increased the overall job pool of available candidates. If that understanding is correct and the goal is to increase the overall pool of qualified candidates, then why a diversity programme? Why not a general internship programme where the most bright of _inexperienced_ candidates are chosen irrespective of their color/gender? Note the stress on inexperience since your argument is based on lack of experience for non-white/non-male population. That takes care of:

1. Companies' responsibility to train 2. Increases the overall pool of candidates 3. Ensures that the brightest are getting into the pool i.e. merit rules instead of skin color/gender (which means that if a non-white/non-male person is the brightest, they get the experience and join the pool)


> If that understanding is correct and the goal is to increase the overall pool of qualified candidates, then why a diversity programme? Why not a general internship programme where the most bright of _inexperienced_ candidates are chosen irrespective of their color/gender?

They have such a program as well, which has been in place much longer than the diversity program. With no specific requirements to pick people who aren't white and male, they ended up getting mostly white males.


> At the risk of somewhat generalizing, a disability puts a person at disadvantage.

It depends on the disability, but still disable people can do things that normal people cannot do. Everybody has skills companies can use, regardless their disability or race or gender.

A blind person wont seem like a good fit for a programming position, but if they prove they can program (as experience in their CV or having passed a test like the rest of candidates) they should be consider as the rest of candidates without any prejudice. And I am sure that blind person has put more effort to achieve the same goals as a non disable candidate and it might be a positive point to hire him as that blind person is showing one more skill than others.

But we shouldn't hire him because he/she is blind but because of his/her skills.


Agreed and I understand that disability is not universally disadvantageous - thats why I said I was generalizing. E.g. a blind person proficient in Braille would actually be great candidate for reviewing production quality of Braille books.


Would it be fine if the diversity program was made into national policy, so that every profession with less than 40% women and 40% men are encouraged to have a affirmative action plan to address it. In particular, government hiring policy should lead by example.

I find that if a decision on morality is made into a general rule, they are much easier to assert if they are good or bad. A gender neutral diversity program on a national level would radically change the discussion, and it would be interesting to see if the proponents of diversity programs would still support it.


I see several problems:

1) what happen if less than 40% want to be in the profession? Are you going to force them to join non-desire careers?

2) does it apply also to bad things? like for example the ratio of men in jail is higher, does it mean we are putting in jail wrong people and leaving women out that should be in jail?

3) will it apply to different minorities? like for example would short people be more selected to play basketball?


1) affirmative action don't force anyone. It could mean that health care and education with several professions with over 90% gender segregation would have to stop all hire of that gender, or hire anyone of the minority gender that show up at the door. The list of gender ration in different professions are publish here in Sweden, so it would be very easy to see where the biggest effect would be (IT, with a about 70-30 ratio is very average profession in regard to gender segregation).

2) & 3), when making law, rules tries to become more general but only to a point. Where that point is is naturally up to debate, but should match the intention of the rule maker. If we want to eliminate gender segregation in the work place, then it naturally ends with gender. If the idea is to eliminate segregation in general then more classification of groups would have to be included.

But the big question I wanted to ask is if we take gender based affirmative action, would that explicit form of action be consider moral when made into a general rule rather than applied locally by specific companies. If it is not, then why is it moral when done in smaller scale.


> I wanted to ask is if we take gender based affirmative action, would that explicit form of action be consider moral when made into a general rule rather than applied locally by specific companies. If it is not, then why is it moral when done in smaller scale.

I see your point now. That is such a good question. But I think in US as in other countries there are laws for gender diversity, like you have to pay more taxes if you don't have gender diversity. And some countries have positive discrimination policies that give money to company who hire minorities.


can you give some link to such law in USA?


> what happen if less than 40% want to be in the profession? Are you going to force them to join non-desire careers?

"Nah, we all know CS is the best, and the only logical possibility is that women are being discouraged to do it, because if I chose an IT career, it's obviously the correct choice of profession." -- Lots of people here.


Would you think it unreasonable then for an able-bodied male who might be hired at the dismantling of such a program because the spot opens up to say he "doesn't give a " if that change of circumstance gave him a similar career advantage, and he intended to work hard once accepted to fill the shoes of the role?


I would expect anyone who needs a job to accept any job they get offered if it's a job they want.


Can you describe the diversity program? I mean was it a program to source candidates from different places and make them enter the normal hiring pipeline, or was something like there are 1% positions reserved for minorities and you fill one?


The normal hiring process goes like this - apply -> short interview -> short (a few weeks) trial period, paid -> a second interview -> hired. It's a good process that leads to quality hires, but it's also a very slow one because not everyone can take a few weeks out of their life for a job trial, if they're currently employed.

The diversity program is an invitation for women, minorities, and disabled people to do an internship. The goal of the internship is to learn, not necessarily to demonstrate ability to do the job. It is paid. It lasts 4-6 months. Interns are invited to go through the normal hiring process afterwards, with the benefit of some experience on the job. There are no full time jobs reserved for any particular type of person. If they choose not to stay with the company, they still get a genuinely useful resume item out of it, moreso than they'd get from a 2 week trial. It can also be used for school credit. Some people might come back and apply again after they finish school.

Around a hundred people go through the normal trial process each year, and it's currently not enough. That's why the diversity program was launched, just to get more people into the pipeline. Only about 8 interns go through the program each year, because so far it's a small experiment, but it's working out so far. A few interns have been hired full time, and a couple of people who couldn't hack it got to at least have a taste of what it's like.


I second your sentiment. Even assuming we live in a perfect world were no-one is biased and hiring is perfectly fair based on skills etc, things like commuting time and accessibility of living spaces restricts what job people with impaired mobility can actually accept and as result they compete in a smaller job market.

This applies to the majority of protected categories one way or another, but people forget it's not "just because people are biased" - while many sadly are, at an explicit or implicit level, even if they weren't there are good reason to keep certain quotas around.

Edit: enlighten me naysayers, why protecting special categories with objective limitations a priory even in absence of cultural bias would be so bad?


This is actually one of the points made here:

https://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/NSF_Stemming%20the%20Tid...

"Still getting asked if I can handle being in a mostly male work environment in interviews in 2009 - I’ve been an engineer for 9 years, obviously I can. I know when I’m asked that question, I HAVE NO CHANCE AT THE JOB. It is nice they brought me in for equal opportunity survey points but don’t waste my time if you don’t take females seriously.”

The point is when you have a male dominated "bro"/"frat" culture, diversity programs are indeed just to meet labor standards - but they don't actually hold water. Which is why women end up leaving these places because people can't treat women like human beings. A diversity program becomes virtually useless if you can't keep people from leaving short of incentivizing them to deal with a company's toxic culture.


Hmm, when we made our first female hire (we are a computer games company), she was a graduate and I did point out that everyone else was male. We offered her the job. She accepted it. She mentioned whilst working she wished more girls worked here so she had someone to talk about girl related things with and go out shopping at lunchtime (it turned out one of the males here knew about shellac nails after this comment and they had a chat about it). Ultimately she moved onto a bigger company a year or so later (the male/female balance wasn't given as a reason, the new job was something excited her a lot more).

I think saying 'can you HANDLE being in a mostly male work environment' is not the right wording. But the decision I took to let a potential candidate know they would be working in an otherwise male only office, I would take again in the same circumstance - it WAS something she was interested to know and WAS something that also came up when she started the job.

I can't speak on behalf of any other women, or scenario in the world, the above is the account of what happened to us. We typically get at least 10X more male candidates to female, and we employ and the same ratio. For about half of the jobs we recruit for, the personal doing the interviewing is female.


Thank you for this honest real-world example. For the sake of context, I am also showing a bit of my bias concerning the issue of masculine frat culture that I myself have had the displeasure of being exposed to at previous start-ups. It was really uncomfortable, I could barely get work done and much of the sales hiring was pushing the culture of the company in that direction.

I perfectly understand the innocence of the question and can empathize with both scenarios: one where the candidate is frustrated by seemingly not being taken seriously, and one where the candidate is genuinely interested in knowing and hoping she can find someone to relate to.

Finding out if you fit into the social norms and groups is really really hard when you're an adult.


Stupid people are everywhere. I want to think that there is a big amount of people that is not like that.

As a male I was told something similar in an interview at Google: if I would mind to work in a company where most people are men? And as the girl you cite I found the question stupid. I have worked in tech I already know how is this.

Instead of diversity program to hire women we should create tolerance programs for everybody.


That, or employers should up their professionalism. Bring back the 9-5 job, the clean desk policy, the grumpy boss that will chew you out if you come to work wearing shorts.


How does that signal for professionalism? How does that make a healthier workplace culture? It just becomes a management minefield. People can commit crimes in suits too.


Developer cultures in the 60s and 70s were more corporate, but some of them managed to be more diverse, because the default expectation was "professional adult", not "funky post-student", and "professional adult" is a bigger space that supports access by a broader range of people.

Women started finding it harder to get into CS in the 80s. Until then, the historical record is that diversity was better than it is now.

But generally hiring-process solutions to this problem are hopeless. You either have a diverse culture, in which case markers for age, gender, attractiveness, charm, ethnicity, extraversion, and so on, are irrelevant... or you don't.

Tech generally doesn't - and that starts at school, not during hiring.

Adding a few extra women won't change that. It's a small improvement at best, not a revolution in accessibility.

Because the reality is that even with a 50:50 gender split startup culture would still be primarily white-or-asian, young, attractive, middle class, and motivated by a very small selection of possible ethical positions - and a lot of possible talent would still be excluded.

Age, race, and class discrimination is far more obvious to outsiders than gender discrimination.

You could make the "Well it's still an improvement" argument, and that's true - up to a point. There's still a bigger conversation to be had about inequality in general, and I'm not sure how many people in tech of any gender are interested in having it.


Ageism happens for more or less same reasons. Perceived bias that older people can't work hard enough, or change fast enough with the fast changing time.

Tech is a very fast moving space with a lot of premium attached to entrepreneurship, moving fast enough, failing often etc.

This sort of an environment is very hard for almost everybody to survive through.


The funny part to me was that when I graduated, in the early 2000 after the crash, the meme about getting a job in tech was "You need 10 years of experience to get an entry level job".

There was a strong bias for older workers. Eventually people said "fuck it", made their own startups, hired their newly graduate colleagues, and started making a big push about why younger tech workers were better.

Since the pipeline is growing (more and more people are going in tech), new grads around that time easily outnumbered the older ones, and thus the situation we're in now. It's almost a backlash to what happened back then.


Anecdatum:

My grandfather always shares his stories about leading the development team at Lewis (an old English insurance corporation) and British Gas.

In his view, they were slothenly, unkempt, often unwashed and unsuited nerds. They were allowed to be because they did a job nobody else at the time could do- and while the rest of the office was suite/tie/polished shoes- they showed a flagrant and blatant disregard for that. Because they knew that they could get away with it because they were "needed".

This is why he has a respect for me being clean/polite/respectful while "having the same skills" in his mind.

So I don't fully buy that tech was previously more professional; it might be a different culture in SV, but generally tech is as professional as anything outside of finance in the cities I've worked (in europe)


And my counter-argument to that is:

Why does it matter what the employee dresses or looks like, if they produce the same results?

I have never understood the reason for people forcing their views of how people should dress onto others. It is absurd.

Granted, there are levels of what is 'appropriate' for the workplace, but I think generally having a flexible dress code is important for employee morale.


> Developer cultures in the 60s and 70s were more corporate ..

Because only biiig and serious corps had the dough to play with mainframes. IBM, AT&T, Nokia, Alcatel, Ericsson are still very corporate. The world has changed a bit since then. (The Cold War changed how people view openness and sharing, the Vietnam Wwar (and recently Iraq) changed how people related to the Establishment (and the "military-industrial complex"), and big corporations. Openness became important and "cool" again.)

And CS is small even today, but it was much smaller. Only the very determined, rather serious people were doing software development. And the projects were much more "serious" back then. Waterfall development model, etc.

Diversity was better, about 36% of CS grads were women. Still long before the big Information Age explosion (.com boom, and so on).

And nowadays when you need a gadget or a website you don't need a professional big corporate project, you need just a few guys-gals.

> But generally hiring-process solutions to this problem are hopeless. You either have a diverse culture, in which case markers for age, gender, attractiveness, charm, ethnicity, extraversion, and so on, are irrelevant... or you don't.

Agreed. But if you want to ensure a transition from bad culture to good culture, you might need to start brute force hiring for it. But usually companies that lack good culture are allowed to rot because someone at the top doesn't care.

> There's still a bigger conversation to be had about inequality in general, and I'm not sure how many people in tech of any gender are interested in having it.

People much better off than the average "for some reason" find it "not their problem". Of course, some do, and try to maximize their impact (see effective altruism).


Wishful thinking unfortunately :/ Hence the exodus.


I think there are a lot of misconceptions about diversity programs, and their purpose. Let's use tech leadership as an example:

The problem they're solving shouldn't be "we need more women in tech, so let's lower the bar for them". The problem they should be solving is "There are two candidates for this leadership position. One tends to use assertiveness and authority to get the job done. The other uses encouragement and persuasion. Who do you hire?". The default response is often to choose the person with the leadership style you've seen many times before, and thus the person who uses unfamiliar, equally effective techniques doesn't get a shot.

You sure as hell shouldn't hire me because I'm female. You should hire me because the set of techniques I employ to do my job are effective, even though they might be less familiar to you. Every tech lead has a different style, and that style has been tailored to that individual. Measure the outcome, not arbitrary characteristics that contribute to the outcome.


> You sure as hell shouldn't hire me because I'm female. You should hire me because the set of techniques I employ to do my job are effective, even though they might be less familiar to you

I couldn't agree more with it. And I think it is one of the points of the infamous memorandum. We should change how the companies works internally so we can use other skills in our benefit. I am not sure the diversity programs work like this, because if they worked like this the focus should be more inside the internal culture than in the hiring process. They would say something like we need to teach people in the company to increase the tolerance and assess diversity skill instead of increasing the diversity. Increasing diversity should be an emerge feature not a goal.


So in my country, we have our own version of affirmative action called caste-based reservations. Basically, if you belong to a certain caste, there are seats reserved for you in every government institution (schools, universities) and public sector jobs.

One of the smartest people I know belongs to one of these castes. She is brilliant at her job but constantly worries whether she got in because of her brains or because of the reservations.

There is STILL a serious need for reservations and affirmative action in my country, but man does it screw with people.


>>There is STILL a serious need for reservations and affirmative action in my country, but man does it screw with people.

I come from the same country.

Reservation policy has denied hordes and hordes of exceptionally smart, hardworking and merit people their rightful chance of doing good in life. It continues to. This has been one of the key reasons for mass exodus of these people to foreign lands. The damage is irreversible. Those people are lost for ever. And worst, they do so well outside India that more and more smart people are incentivized to leave the country for the better.

The damage to the Indian economy and the STEM ecosystem in India in general is incalculable.

Also by and large, at least from the past few decades(of economic boom and social progress) these reservation policies have no meaning at all.


And how would you right the wrongs that the caste system has done to countless people? Even today people get ostracized because of their supposed caste, even though the system has been illegal for many years. There was even an interview on NPR about this last week: http://www.npr.org/2017/08/05/541844695/ants-among-elephants... - even today people in the US get asked what caste they are.

Your "hordes and hordes" who have been denied their "rightful chance of doing good in life" seems more than a little overblown when you compare that to millions of people who were denied the same chance for centuries due to where their families fell in the social chain at one point.

Affirmative action policies often seem unfair to the majority, but it's often extremely difficult for that majority to consider just what the minority went through, and how much longer it will take - if it can ever happen - for them to reach parity without policies that recognize that they've been forcefully held back for their entire life, their parents' lives, and so on.


>>And how would you right the wrongs that the caste system has done to countless people?

The modern day hard working people affiliated to a particular caste be punished generation after generation for a mistake some ancestor of theirs made some 5000 years back?

>>Even today people get ostracized because of their supposed caste, even though the system has been illegal for many years.

Strictly speaking caste affiliations today are entirely voluntary. You can by all means absolve yourself of any caste/religion. People stick to a particular caste/religion for various reasons many of which are cultural and not because they forced to. Also note caste isn't a binary classification. There are castes that go as deep as farmer, shepherd, cow herder, black smith, cotton weaver, weapon maker etc etc.

Some of them do it because of the explicit benefits like reservations that come along with it.

>>Your "hordes and hordes" who have been denied their "rightful chance of doing good in life" seems more than a little overblown when you compare that to millions of people who were denied the same chance for centuries due to where their families fell in the social chain at one point.

This my experience being born and living in this country for 3 decades of my biological life. The default condition for any body smart and hard working here is 'immigration abroad'.

Take any steps from your childhood. Attend any exams(which by the way decide your entire life direction), appear for any government job interview, parliaments seats etc etc. Reservations exist which will ensure many hard working people ever succeed.

The system actively brutally punishes smart, hard working merit people to a point most people are driven to migrate foreign lands to get due returns for their work.


>Strictly speaking caste affiliations today are entirely voluntary. You can by all means absolve yourself of any caste/religion.

They are theoretically voluntary. Practical reality, however, is very different: http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2016/08/13/48988349...

And the previous interview that I had linked to noted how often even in the US, people get asked what caste they're in.

Deeply rooted discrimination doesn't go away just because it is officially outlawed, and the effects of that discrimination don't go away just through hard work. There are plenty of smart African Americans and women in the US who can attest to still getting paid less than white males even if they did get good jobs.


This is a bit like atheism. If you denounce your religion, they can't exactly drag you back into it. But that cuts both ways, if you are an atheist, you can't expect somebody religious to throw away their religion and marry you. The world doesn't owe you a marriage on your terms.

Caste is similar, if you throw away your caste and then go for marriage, a strong caste affiliate who doesn't subscribe to your world view may reject your proposal. This isn't discrimination, everybody has a right to marry somebody whom they feel they can be comfortable with.

You will be surprised how much 'pride' people take in their caste here in India. There are many caste specific festivals and traditions people observe. Almost all caste affiliates in India are willing participants.


I just wanted to record my position on this because I in no way support what you're saying. I fully support reservation for people who belong to traditionally marginalized communities when it comes to education. The only way you can make me reconsider is to make education free of cost and open to all candidates regardless of merit.

However, you do raise a good point. Reservation policy should not extend into the work force. I am more in favor of literal handouts of cash rather than forced diversity in the workplace. Come to think of it, basic income can't come soon enough. I don't mean we need to end diversity programs in the workplace but the way it was explained to me was these were recruitment programs and not hiring programs. Considering gender or caste or color of skin as one of the conditions for employment should be illegal in all nations.


>>I fully support reservation for people who belong to traditionally marginalized communities when it comes to education.

This was the original vision of the people who designed the reservation system in India. Their idea was some people where so behind in the social strata that merely expecting them to make up on hard work would take it forever to work. But this policy should have some expiry conditions. Else it leads to absurd conditions like it does in India.

There are cases where the father is a well earning rich doctor, and the kids still get reservations. There is a guy who has just done his MBBS, and yet he qualifies for reservation for a MD seat. Entry and qualifying marks/percentages are lower for reservation seats, so you have a condition where exceptionally good performers and bad performers are both in the same peer group in a class, and then the bad performing group routinely does bad and loses out.

>>Reservation policy should not extend into the work force.

Once you create a entitled group of people, you can't succeed them in stopping them from asking special privileges in other places.


> Considering gender or caste or color of skin as one of the conditions for employment should be illegal in all nations.

Given research showing that the most diverse teams are, on average, more successful than less diverse teams [1], should gender or caste or color still never be considered?

People bring more to their workplaces than algorithms and programming languages, their life experiences and worldview can positively influence the whole company.

The employer should encourage new ideas, create an environment where everyone feels empowered to contribute, and facilitate education and improvement for all employees.

Algorithms, programming languages, technology stacks, etc. can all be taught. The perspective an employee brings to the company can not be taught.

I think we would agree that gender, race, and ethnicity are crude proxies for a "unique worldview". There are so many metrics that could be considered: education, location history, age, previous work, hobbies, etc. Even more can be gleaned from a conversation.

A good hiring manager should know that too, and should select candidates who truly complement the team, not just check the boxes for race and gender.

[1] https://hbr.org/2016/11/why-diverse-teams-are-smarter


> The only way you can make me reconsider is to make education free of cost and open to all candidates regardless of merit.

This is true for some countries and the problems and solutions are still the same.


According to Census 2011, 4% of Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) - minorities who benefit this reservation - have a government job [0]. They form 25% of the population [1].

[0] http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/census-c...

[1] http://archive.indianexpress.com/news/scs-sts-form-25--of-po...


Firstly reservations exist beyond SCs and STs. There are a whole variety of people who get reservations. So that number is way higher.

We are talking of problems General Merit people face here.

Secondly, you are making the same mistake, we generally do in India while comparing these things. Comparing human ingenuity one-one. A good merit performer can contribute way more disproportionately compared to a bad performer.

Lastly you don't mention the problem of filling up mandatory quotas. Where you can't allocate seats to general merit folks until all reservation quotas are exhausted. In Karnataka this problem was so serious back in the day, the general merit seat counseling used to happen at very last after each reserved category exhausted their picks.

The resultant situation was so bizarre. It was literally the best students in the entire state had to pick up leftovers, while people who had performed way worse took plum picks.

I remember during our first Math lecture in the first semester, some of us used to solve problems way ahead of the remaining class. Our professor used to remark the general merit candidates in the class were basically the top ranking students who had missed out on top colleges and the performance difference in the peer group was already showing, and will continue to show in the future.


> Reservation policy has denied hordes and hordes of exceptionally smart, hardworking and merit people their rightful chance of doing good in life. It continues to. This has been one of the key reasons for mass exodus of these people to foreign lands.

Proof?


Proof is living here in India. Watching year after year, your seniors, neighbors, cousins, class mates, tuition mates, office colleagues burn through insane hours entirety of the whole academic life from childhood till late teenage, working for doing good in exams, scoring the top ranks that there are, and yet being denied seats in professional colleges.

The very fact that you ask for proof means you are completely disconnected from the everyday reality of life middle class hard working students face in India every single academic year.

Even today I meet freshers at IT companies who have stories of having scored in upwards of 95% aggregate marks, and best rank in competitive exams(JEE, NEET, NATA, CET etc) and lose out an engineering seat to some one who had 35-45% marks.


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Why are you denying his/her lived experience?


He did not.

He asked for proof. The person responded with anecdotes. That kind of reasoning will just result in another person giving his/her anecdotes stating the opposite. Neither is proof.


I won't debate this further with you.

In India the reservation debate has reached a point where things like 'citation needed' and 'provide proof' are now largely excuses to cover for pointless spending towards socialist 'rob peter to pay paul' schemes. Some people find reservation apologists so absurd that a debate isn't relevant any more. The problem and pains faced by hardworking kids from middle class families are now beyond complaints. Most people know by now, nobody cares for them and they have to work far more harder than kids who get reservations.

The net result is general merit kids are far more competitive and do well on the longer run.

Either way I know nothing will change on the ground, because this is large a political issue. And politicians let the system continue because they get votes in return.

For merit people the path is very simple, move out as the system doesn't reward you. There are better places on earth to contribute and build your career.


>In India the reservation debate has reached a point where things like 'citation needed' and 'provide proof' are now largely excuses to cover for pointless spending towards socialist 'rob peter to pay paul' schemes.

We're not in India and this is an international forum.

>I won't debate this further with you

Your opinion is formed so strongly that you never even debated in this thread. You're repeating the same sentiments and ignoring what the other person is saying.

The person is not even claiming what you are saying is false. He is only asking you to support what you're saying. And you've already attributed qualities to his personality.


The caste system discussion is about India. And we can only debate conditions in the context they are present.

No studies are conducted in India on this because this is a political issue. People vote in blocks(vote banks). Any hint of a detailed study will expose these people and they threaten to vote against the politicians as a block.

This is the equivalent of stealing bulk of the cheddar, when accused prevent CCTV monitoring from being installed, continue stealing and claim no proof exist for the crime.


>No studies are conducted in India on this because this is a political issue. People vote in blocks(vote banks). Any hint of a detailed study will expose these people and they threaten to vote against the politicians as a block.

The common theme in this thread is:

You make claims.

You refuse to back them up.

Take this example. I could easily make the argument:

"No studies are conducted in India on this because this is not a political issue."

It would help if you provide evidence that something bad happens to those who attempt such research.

Don't get me wrong - what you say is very believable to me. However, your comments are at the same level of conspiracy theorists in the US. When asked for proof, they respond with similar statements "What I'm speaking is the truth. The government/media/whoever represses this knowledge". Whether it's from climate denialists or young Earth believers.

I find it sad that you are responding at the same level as those people.


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While I understand, and agree with, the sentiment of your skepticism, you come across as quite arrogant in your dismissal.

If a problem is political providing proof might be very difficult, since those in power will claim that there is no proof of a problem existing, and hence there is no need to investigate the problem further. This circular logic prevents any kind of proof from ever being produced.

I've seen this happen many times myself.


Saimiam is an Indian, and is likely living in India. I neither understand nor agree with his skepticism. I may have been more generous if he were from some other country.

Kamaal made a claim that "stories of having scored in upwards of 95% aggregate marks, and best rank in competitive exams(JEE, NEET, NATA, CET etc) and lose out an engineering seat to some one who had 35-45% marks."

This is what I have seen too. And yet, I cannot provide any citations because the agencies and the institutions do not publish figures. Saimiam knows this, and himself cannot produce figures of any sort in this field. Our governmental agencies make policies not based on research and citations, but based on what gets them most votes. The govermnent has no incentive to fund research in the field.

This gives a nice cover for people to hide behind, and say, "No proof. Ha ha."


>If a problem is political providing proof might be very difficult, since those in power will claim that there is no proof of a problem existing, and hence there is no need to investigate the problem further. This circular logic prevents any kind of proof from ever being produced.

This topic is very measurable, regardless of the government's stance. The government cannot prevent proof of this. At most they can just not fund it.


No, unfortunately it isn't always 'very measureable'. Read your sibling comment; sometimes the government has the necessary data but refuses to release it to anyone.

Providing proof may then become prohibitively expensive, and sometimes impossible.


Do a large scale random sample survey and you'll already learn a lot. The government may have a lot of data, but you don't need it from them.

Even in the US, a lot of data is not released on the grounds of confidentiality. That doesn't block doing research on the topic.


The problem here is that even a discussion about this topic is dangerous. That's unbelievable!


a persons humanity should not be in question. you can discuss the merits of a specific persons qualifications but to argue "women, as an aggregate, are poor coders because they care about people and not things like dudes do" isn't a discussion. it's just grade-school level sexism.

for someone with a PhD in biological systems, you'd expect a person to be a little more developed in their thinking...


Woman and men are, on average, different. Is this wrong?

These differences can be in factors that impact ones desire or ability to perform certain roles. Is this wrong?

This individual person, because they are a man/woman, is unfit for the role. This IS wrong.

Is it wrong to say there are differences that make women, on average, worse football players? Is that inherently bad, perhaps even blasphemous, thing to say? I don't think so.

So why can't one discuss this about other jobs? Perhaps they are wrong, Perhaps which ever group isn't worse on average. But even if they are wrong, then the way to respond is to say that their information is wrong, not that they are wrong for saying it.

We are treating the conversation itself like it is a blasphemy that shall not be uttered aloud. Instead, we should be asking 'is this information factual or not'. And we should be taking safe guards that averages aren't assigned to individuals.


> the way to respond is to say that their information is wrong, not that they are wrong for saying it.

This is what bothered me the most about Google's response. They have the data to prove that the stereotypes about women were wrong. Instead of doing that, they focused on the idea that articulating the stereotypes was wrong. Some stereotypes actually have a basis in facts. The best way to deal with ones that aren't is to use the facts. Google failed at doing this.


> Google failed at doing this.

Implying they cared about false stereotypes. They only failed if they actually wanted to do that.

My bet is this gives them negative PR to their target market, end of story.


> to argue "women, as an aggregate, are poor coders because they care about people and not things like dudes do" isn't a discussion.

Did you actually read the paper or just one of the many summaries? Because he didn't say that, and your use of quotes is inappropriate here. Also, he didn't question anyone's humanity. While I don't agree with some of the points he made and I'm for Diversity programs in general, I find these misrepresentations and personal attacks on him quite disturbing. What we need is more civilized discussion, not name-calling.


yes, I did read it. and yes, that's precisely the argument that was presented. with a nice "we should talk about it!" cherry on top.

there's nothing to discuss. women have just as much right as men to be programmers or any other "computer science" or "tech" job and they reason there AREN'T that many of them is preicsely because of the pseudo-science bona fide bullshit written in his "Manifesto".

it only takes one asshole to drive away everyone else.


You didn't read it.


I did. care to tell me what parts I missed?


Well. You invented everything you're claiming it said.

At no point did it even insinuate that women were less capable than men, what it seemed to be trying to do is note marginal statistical differences in choices by men and women and what we could do as an industry to be more accommodating to women without resorting to hiring quotas- which, he claims, may actually cause greater levels of imposter syndrome and tension amongst genders.

There was no part of the document that came close to refuting that women have a right to be in the industry. In fact. The document was the opposite, "how do we get women in tech in a non-discriminatory way?"


I should add, the fact there's "Nothing to discuss" is quite radicalising. Others can tell people how to think and they can't even discuss it civilly? That seems so against the engineering and scientific ideology we all claim to believe in.


Strongly different of what you think there are a lot of PhD in the area that agree with him. That people have different biological systems and so the expressed skills are different. The same way genes express the gender they also express different skills. What I don't understand is why this is so bad? we have different skills, let's try not to think everybody is exactly the same and focus in the skills every individual have.


> What I don't understand is why this is so bad?

It's the idea that it would be unfair that on average women cannot do as well in things men do, ignoring basic biology that genders are different and that there are things that absolutely no man can do, that women can. Even sometimes those areas which privilege females are seen as they were basically cornered into doing, and have no bearing into the fact that while there is some chauvinism, that possibly on average the desires, needs and skills may be not better or worse but different. And the women that embrace those things are positive are seen as being dominated against their will, or brainwashed into hating themselves.

In short, if a women does something that historically men used to do, then it's good. Else, and even more if it is something that historically women used to do, they are being subject to sexism.

The PhD guy should know better, perhaps too much specialization in his field made his brain go fritz.


So this is a common talking point, and I'd like to flip your case around, because the belief that people from a caste are inferior human beings isn't as widespread in the US.

So what you are really saying is there's a problem with affirmative action for lower castes, because large numbers of people assume that they are inferior. That's the problem your friend has. That's she's brilliant, and lots of people assume she isn't because of some arbitrary prejudice. This is the same arbitrary prejudice that the affirmative action seeks to remedy, and so these attitudes to affirmative action, in themselves, prove the need for affirmative action.


> because large numbers of people assume that they are inferior.

You're taking this the wrong way. It's not that they think that people who came in through reservations are inferior. It's that they don't have to work nearly as hard.

In an exam where an upper caste person might have to score 100 to get in, the reserved caste person would have to score 70.

It's about the unfairness of this system.

Which is strange because the caste system before this was wildly unfair itself.

To mitigate the damage of one unfair system, we've set up another one.


> In an exam where an upper caste person might have to score 100 to get in, the reserved caste person would have to score 70.

And we all know that the way to treat people with respect is to deal with them as if they were handicapped.


Are the lower caste people on average inferior?

If they're not, then why does it matter?

If they are, then is it a) a tragedy that should be remedied by providing better nutrition, education, opportunities, or b) are they a lower level of sub-human who we just have to put up with in menial roles?

I'll note that if you do a) then the problem of them getting in on lower grades solves itself, as they compete for the limited slots available to them. And at that point you can remove the system entirely.


> In an exam where an upper caste person might have to score 100 to get in, the reserved caste person would have to score 70.

Are there less people in the "lower" caste? I would assume there would be more and severe competition.


Actually caste isn't a binary classification. And reservations don't apply only to one caste. Many castes get reservations.

The remainder bulk of the people who don't get reservations fall into this category called 'General Merit'.

Now the system fills up the reservation quotas first, leaving leftovers to general merit. General merit has way more candidates and a larger section of people who score above reservation people. The net result is you end up denying top performers seats, so that you can fill reservation quotas.


Probably yes, at least the people interested in the position. Considering that distributions on both sets are the same, lowering the bar in the minor set is an unfair advantage of positive discrimination


> That's she's brilliant, and lots of people assume she isn't because of some arbitrary prejudice

So let's create tolerance programs for the people who has this prejudices. This will solve the problem, lower the bar for minorities it is only a treatment of the problem which won't do anything in the long term. Because if they hire you and then the cultural corporation is broken you are going to be very unhappy and probably leave the career (his actually happens)

Anyway see countries like Norway consider one of the most equality countries, and also one with the more gender inbalance in careers like tech. We should consider that some people don't like a professional and also work in way to make this profession more appealing if it is possible. But if it not possible just understand that the imbalance is natural. we


I love how you throw around the term "qualified" as though it were set in stone. Like one person is obviously more qualified than the other, as though these people are 100m sprinters whose performance is measured within a fraction of a hundredth of a second.

We're treating highly educated specialists tasked with delivering highly complex, variable and nuanced output like 19th century factory workers. How many hundreds of books have been published on just the question of measuring employee productivity, yet for the sake of this conversation we toss terms like "more qualified" around like they are law.


It is a subjetive measure but still a measure. For example, the position requires knowing Python, a person with 5 years of experience in Python will probably know more than a person with 1. Yes, you can be wrong but hiring the 5 year person is the common sense, you will do less mistakes this way. Hiring the women because it is a women it is a positive discrimination. Not hiring the women with experience is discrimination, but does this really happen? Can you prove it?

(Ok yes, people see a woman to hire and say +1 point because you a woman and will us pay less taxes because of the diversity balance. This shit happens too)

You talk like you have written those books, enlighten me.


"Qualified" was the wrong word because it can imply that the qualifications are measurable à priori, which is what I'm assuming is your interpretation.

That's not what the OP is saying though, he's saying "qualified" as seen in demonstrated performance after the hiring. It would've been clearer had he said "better at the job" (as in, leading to a greater total company value) than "qualified".


Assuming you're not a woman or minority, don't be so sure that's what you would prefer (unless you're saying you would prefer there were no bias at all, in which case, duh). There are women and minorities that have benefited from such programs, and absolutely do not feel guilty by it, because they believe that in the absence of those programs, the unfair disadvantage would have exceeded any "unfair advantage" the program gave them.


When I said "if I were a woman" I was talking about me. My personal opinion. I know that there are people that think differently.

I prefer to work for a company that was able to see my skills than other that hire me because other reasons. I think I would be happier and achieve more things this way. (Again, this is a personal opinion)


I think they're saying that unless you are a woman at job-hunting age (having been influenced by your environment for 2-3 decades by that point), making a claim about how you might feel if you were, is of little value in the discussion.


We can also just project into a field where were are a minority. So maybe a man can't consider what it is to be a diversity hire in tech, but he could consider being a diversity hire for a number of other industries which where the majority of employees are women.


Yes, I think that's more likely to be useful to think about, but I do think reality and hypothetical considerations are just so different when it comes to forming a valuable argument.


I have faced discrimination in another areas of my life. So I think I can have an opinion about it. I have also talked with woman that think the same as me.

Are you discriminating me to give an opinion because I am a male? I don't think it is fair. I could also say that you shouldn't talk about gender equality if you don't live in a country with high gender equality and so you argument doesn't add any value with the discussion.


I'm trying to clarify the point made by another user.

And I suspect that yes, they were suggesting that giving an opinion as a hypothetical female, given that you are male, is of limited value. I think people of both genders make real-world decisions very differently to hypothetical decisions. When there are bills to be paid, and potential bias is mixed in amongst countless other factors, I can say I wouldn't ditch a career as a chemistry teacher to start producing drugs, but who knows what pressures there are influencing that decision slowly at the time, and in the years leading up.


This is a non-sense to me. My opinion about what a woman would do does not have a value because I am not a woman, but you are talking about men and woman and I should take into account you opinion? I don't think you are both a man and a woman.

> I think people of both genders make real-world decisions very differently to hypothetical decisions

based on your reasoning you cannot say that because you cannot have an opinion about what the other gender would do.

The fact is that a lot of women reply to my comment saying that they would do the same I said I would do.


Respectfully, I'm still not sure my point is coming across.

I agree with you; and I think everyone else does, that they'd rather work for a company that was able to see their skills.

But, what if you knew there was bias that would keep them from seeing your skills, and would keep you from being hired because of it? What if your only choices were to be hired through a diversity program, or not be hired at all?


If it is either die or survive without choose survive, obviously.

Why are you so sure the bias is there? Countries like Norway are one of the most equality countries but they have the higher ratios, which doesn't make sense because they have the less bias.


> Why are you so sure the bias is there? Countries like Norway are one of the most equality countries but they have the higher ratios, which doesn't make sense because they have the less bias.

This sentence is a little garbled so not quite sure what you're going for, but I like to point people to the example of the Danish parliament. A gender quota was established some decades ago to ensure that female members could get the job, because obviously half the population is female and so they need to be represented. Now that they have an equal number of men and women, they're getting ready to remove the quota because it served its purpose, and it's not needed anymore. There are enough qualified and experienced women with strong reputations available that they don't need the help anymore.


Norway has had "gender points" in relation to acceptance at university for several studies, especially in the STEM related ones. The gender gap has closed a great deal in most of the STEM studies, but not that much in CS related ones. Some of the studies have become nearly 50/50, and an interesting event is when they tried to remove the "gender points" from one of the studies, and the female acceptance rates fell to almost zero. Females in Norway generally have better grades, so one could make the argument that the difference is because of interest.


Do you have a reference for the case mentioned? - student in Norway


I did remember it partially wrong. As stated in the article [1] it was reduced by about half, and not to zero.

[1] http://www.vg.no/nyheter/meninger/arbeidsliv/fortsatt-behov-...


There is a documentary called Hjernevask from Norway that had a lot of controversy because of the topic. It is good to see different opinions of experts and what happened there:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVaTc15plVs


That is a fantastic outcome, and the sort of end goal that affirmative action should seek. But it doesn't always end that well.

In India, affirmative action has basically served to deepen the lines between castes/religions etc. More and more sections of society demand that they be included in quotas. The people who do get in using such programs rarely succeed in suppressing the nagging question of whether they earned it (and that questioning stays with you all your life). Meanwhile, people forge identity documents to make it through such programmes, and the abuse of the system means that no one trusts that it is doing any good overall. In fact, by now, it has become a tool for politicians to appease fractious sections of society.


That's really too bad. Maybe something like the blind auditions they now use for orchestra positions could help. All applications done blindly or over text, using knowledge tests, something like that.


> Maybe something like the blind auditions

Exactly! If you want to remove gender, race or some other aspect from the decision making process you have to actually remove it. You can't just try to fix discrimination one direction by creating discrimination in a different direction.


In fact, I agree with your original post wholeheartedly.

You start with an "end date" (say two decades). And you make that date difficult to change, so that the "let's kick the can down the road" option is not easy.


The "end date" will never arrive. If you told a set of people they can get seats at plum places doing 1/4th work the remainder of the population, and you did this with 4-5 generations of their populace, its impossible to do away with this sort of entitlement after a while.

And not to forget there will be enough politicians to fight for them as long as they vote for them.

These sort of things are pretty much one direction. Once done are irreversible. Its impossible to roll back what people think is a right they were born with.


That is an excellent idea. The only trouble is, the people who make this policies do not see the problem that you and I do. Their problem is to get more votes, and ocassionally to appease violent hooligans. What they have been doing fixes their problems perfectly well. SNAFU.


> This is a double sword thing. With the program you might hire more qualified women, but also more less qualified women and you might prevent of hiring more qualified women. Because you have to hire women as the diversity program says.

Are you saying there are no situations in which applying a systematic adjustment as a function of gender to interview scores could result in a predictable net-fitness-increase in the resulting skill distribution of hired people?

> If I were I woman (or belong to minority) I would prefer to be being hired without any diversity program. Imagine being a woman and being hired with this program, does it mean they hired me because I am a woman or because I am the best candidate for the position? (I said woman but applies to any minority group)

That's not really the important question though. Would you prefer being not being hired due to bias even though you are qualified, or being hired despite bias, even though you know it will make some people think you weren't really qualified?


Here is the problem in tech.

Your have around 20% females. If any company has 30%, this means a lot of other companies will have to fight to get women there.

So they have to pay a lot more for the qualified ones or accept to get token women for the sake of PR.

The problem starts before the workplace: in homes and at school. Start educating minorities and women on the job opportunities in tech. Make them discover the joy of tinkering. It's not for everyone but as someone from a lower socio-economic world I experienced how you can not know what is available to you. That's a huge failing of the school system and especially guidance counselor who usually don't know shit about nothing.


>That's not really the important question though. Would you prefer being not being hired due to bias even though you are qualified, or being hired despite bias, even though you know it will make some people think you weren't really qualified?

It depends on if that bias existed or not. If the bias exists then of course, I would want to have that bias compensated for. The question is still: is there a bias? Many people say the disparity alone is evidence of a bias because a completely unbiased system would result in a 50/50 split which we obviously don't have. The author of the manifesto is saying that a bias doesn't exist because the disparity has another explanation with some scientific support.

You might disagree or think that the science which supports this idea is faulty in some way. But come on, the reaction has been outrageous and scary.


The author clearly stated that he wasn't denying that sexism exists. Another example of how the manifesto is inconsistent, unless he's saying that sexism exists but somehow has no effect on hiring.


I think he said the ratio of women / men in the company was matching or close to the reality. That there are more men interested in tech than women and that trying to achieve a 50/50 was a mistake. Then the based the disparity of women interested in tech because of biological reasons.

Sexims might exist and have and effect in hiring but for him the effect of the diversity program was bigger, and a result it could lead to hire less qualified individuals. He said that the company should hire based on skills and not in gender or other bias. And also it should change how it works internally to create a better environment for women where they can explode their skills, those one the men doesn't have.


This is where I don't know about Google's diversity aims in detail. The manifesto author regularly talked about 50/50, but I don't know if that is actually Google's stated goal. Regardless, even if an organization aims for 50/50, that is not the underlying objective - it's more a diagnosis to meet the real underlying objective, which is to have a hiring practice that is not subject to hidden gender biases (or seeks to make up for them in some way).


As I said in another comment, we might need tolerance programs instead of diversity programs. We shouldn't assess anyone by their gender or other bias but for their skills for the job (where I say skills I mean also biological facts, like you have to be tall to be a basketball player o be a women to be a bikinis model, etc)


Your two examples list physical differences, not mental ones. Forgetting the fact that your examples are both wrong (you don't have to be tall to [play basketball][1], nor do you have to be biologically female to model bikinis), mental differences are markedly different from physical ones, because unlike a requirement such as "you must be capable of lifting 200lbs" which _may_ skew male, almost all humans are innately & biologically capable of the critical thought required to program. The differences we see today comes from nurture, not nature.

There are no biological "skills" that men might possess innately that should make them a first-choice by default, nor is there any reason to ever pick a candidate over another because of some biological "fact". At the end of the day, you judge a candidate by their output (performance, displayed intellect), not their input (nature OR nurture).

This is the whole point of Google's unconscious bias training: humans create incorrect correlations between input (nature|nutrue) and output (perf, intellect) in the form of biases-- i.e., "if you're too emotional you can't think as rationally as someone who is less emotional, therefore you cannot perform at the same level as a less emotional thinker". The problem here is that the correlation doesn't hold; it's a bias, not a fact.

Here's the point: your "biological facts" are biases, evidenced by the fact that you think you need to be tall to play basketball or biologically female to be a bikini model, and neither of these things are actually true.

[1]: http://www.complex.com/sports/2013/05/the-15-greatest-short-...


You're making unsupported claims about the differences coming from nurture, not nature. It's very likely a combination of both. There appears to be differences in mental rotation skills between males and females (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mental_rotation) and males appear to have a higher variance in IQ scores (which can result in large differences in top percentiles). Men also score higher on the Cognitive Reflection Test https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5089055/

The implicit bias testing has serious issues: http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2017/01/psychologys-racism-meas...


Weird that a group of people who spend their youth being told that they're naturally bad at math and critical reasoning have hangups when given these tests. Only explanation is that their doubters were right.


"The experiment was done on 3- to 4-month-old infants using a 2D mental rotation task. They used a preference apparatus that consists of observing during how much time the infant is looking at the stimulus. They started by familiarizing the participants with the number "1" and its rotations. Then they showed them a picture of a "1" rotated and its mirror image. The study showed that males are more interested by the mirror image. Females are equally interested by the "1" rotated and its mirror image. That means that males and females process mental rotation differently."


Do you imagine that some conclusion about my argument can be drawn from this quotation? Because I do not see the path.

Take a look here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22496180


> Two experiments showed that, as predicted, the performance of 4- to 7-year-olds (N = 192) was impaired by exposure to information that associated success in the task at hand with membership in a certain social group (e.g., "boys are good at this game"), regardless of whether the children themselves belonged to that group.

3- to 4-months old is quite a bit younger than 4 to 7 years. I doubt that any kind of group membership awareness can affect the things a baby looks at, especially when the task is so abstract. (Do you think anyone is ever indoctrinated to think that "boys do not look at rotated objects" or some such?)

The study you cite has no bearing on the effect you seem to dispute.

Edit: If it makes you feel better, the Wikipedia page on mental rotation also mentions a different experiment, where they measured reaction times of adults: "Also it was found that the male athletes in the experiment were faster than females, but male and female musicians showed no significant difference in reaction time." So apparently the right kind of training can eliminate the difference.


I was not disputing the effect you brought up - only questioning its relevance.

The study I linked is one that seems more relevant to the topic at hand - certainly more relevant to the point I was trying to make originally.

About your edit: there is no need to try to make me feel better. Assuming you understand what makes me tick well enough to be able to do so is a common mistake (not with me specifically, but in general) that leads to the kind of cross-talk we're seeing here.


I didn't bring up the effect, there are multiple people replying to you here. Not paying attention who you are talking to is a common mistake that leads to the kind of cross-talk we are seeing here ;)

As for disputing the relevance of the effect, that wasn't really clear from your brief comment. I'd say that a test of a mental capacity that shows natural gender differences before nurture had a chance to kick in does invalidate HelloWorldInWS's argument that there can't possibly be a biological effect that makes men (or women) better at any particular mental task.

Your comment "Weird that a group of people who spend their youth being told that they're naturally bad at math and critical reasoning have hangups when given these tests. Only explanation is that their doubters were right." is also not terribly relevant, because

- mental rotation ability differs even for babies

- IQ tests are calibrated so that the average is 100, regardless of gender. So women can't actually perform worse than men. It's just that the variance is higher, which means that men are more likely to be very smart or very dumb, while women are more likely to be of average intelligence. (The explanation I've heard is that having only one X chromosome gives genes there outsized influence in men.)

- the abstract of the linked study on the Cognitive Reflection Test mentions that both genders expected their performance to be better than it actually was, so lack of self-confidence was probably not an issue.

I'm sorry how my edit came across to you, I actually just wanted to mention it because it seems important to know that even if there is some mental difference contributing to the current gender distribution in tech, it might still be possible to even it out by practicing the relevant skill.


> Not paying attention who you are talking to is a common mistake that leads to the kind of cross-talk we are seeing here ;)

I apologize! :)

And yes, I have a tendancy to be brief and sarcastic rather than clear, to the detriment of my discussions.

I will not argue that there are no measurable cognitive differences between any given classifiable group of people. I will argue that there is nothing shown that can account for the 80/20 gender split we see today in tech.

However, I do believe that societal and cultural pressures, in the form of stereotyping and prejudice, can cause that split. This argument is what I was alluding to, and what I was attempting to support with my link.


Yeah, I posted the quote and I should've posted the reasoning behind it as well, I just meant to say I don't believe all of the difference is explained by societal pressure, but I agree that some and maybe most of it is.

It seems like a really hard thing to determine because we don't have a "control society" with no sexism we could use to compare.


I think we are in agreement then.


> Your two examples list physical differences, not mental ones.

Look what the experts say: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVaTc15plVs&feature=youtu.be...

If you see the whole video you hear different opinions

> you don't have to be tall to [play basketball]

Look at the height distributions of the global population and the basketball players and think twice of what you said.

> There are no biological "skills" that men might possess innately that should make them a first-choice by default

Exactly because those skill can also be in women, but some are more likely to be in men as some are more likely to be in women. I don't see anything wrong with it.


I think he's saying he accepts that sexism is present in the hiring process, as are all biases, but the answer to that is not diversity programs. My guess is that he believes market forces will sort it out (i.e if someone is qualified regardless of sex or race, they will be hired because it makes sense economically). I'm not saying I agree or think that diversity hires will happen naturally, just extrapolating from what I got from the original post.


There are like 3 or 4 completely different definitions of sexism, only some of which would have an affect on hiring rates.


> Are you saying there are no situations in which applying a systematic adjustment as a function of gender to interview scores could result in a predictable net-fitness-increase in the resulting skill distribution of hired people?

Yes if you don't try to match the distribution of the pool of candidates. if the pool of candidates ratio is 10/90 and your goal in the company is 10/90, I am ok with anything that helps you to get close to the 10/90. (When both distributions are normal gaussian with similar mean and average. I don't see basketball teams hiring short people to fit the ratio or the pool of candidates)

> That's not really the important question though. Would you prefer being not being hired due to bias even though you are qualified, or being hired despite bias, even though you know it will make some people think you weren't really qualified?

I prefer being hired because they saw my skills. I think is better in the long term. If I am qualified for a job I will find it, it could take me more time but at some point I will find it and I will be happier than in a job where they saw me hired by a diversity program. Of course if I need the job to survive wouldn't care, but I think this is not the common case (or I might be wrong but as I said in another comment this is my personal opinion, other will think differently)


If the pool of candidates is 10/90, I would agree a hiring goal of 10/90 is fine assuming that the pool of candidates is not also negatively impacted by bias. The pool of candidates, however, is widely accepted to be negatively impacted by bias (which is why you see things like female-friendly coding camps, etc).


I don't know the reason why women are not interested in tech. I think there is an important biological component and also a cultural issue. But I am not sure of the cultural issue because in countries like Norway, one of the most equality countries, the ratios are higher than other countries, which doesn't make sense unless the biological factor is what affects the most.


> I don't know the reason why women are not interested in tech.

Dumb frat bros writing 10 page screeds about how they're not fit for the job because they're biologically conditioned to work with people and not machines -might- have something to do with it.

And, as a historical point, until the late 60s, software development was seen as "women's work". Which somewhat destroys any "biological component" nonsense.


Until the late 60s, "programming" had very little to do with the "software development" that bloomed in the 70s.

Interestingly, "dumb frat bros" are somehow not affected by people calling them that and manage to fight through the emotional pain and still achieve their dreams of being in tech. I've noted a very large group of people react negatively to the person who wrote the memo, writing insults(like "dumb frat bro"), demanding he be fired, threatening him with violence, the whole shebang. Unless I'm missing something, you seem to be implying that women are inferior to "dumb frat bros" because the "dumb frat bros" seem to be better at handling other people trying to bring them down.


> Interestingly, "dumb frat bros" are somehow not affected by people calling them that and manage to fight through the emotional pain and still achieve their dreams of being in tech

Yes, almost as if the entire system was heavily weighted in their favour!

> Unless I'm missing something, you seem to be implying [something I wasn't even vaguely implying but makes a good false point to try and hang a specious argument on]

Does that tactic ever work for you in arguments?

> demanding he be fired

He demonstrated -in spades- that he wasn't capable of being a professional team player within that environment.

> threatening him with violence

That is too far and wholly wrong to do.


> He demonstrated -in spades- that he wasn't capable of being a professional team player within that environment.

That's a very subjective judgement on your part.

If you scan this discussion here on HN, I think you will find that almost half the posts are in stark disagreement with your position.

Honestly, if you find an email like this triggering to the point that you're calling for others to be fired and keep on insisting that something is "toxic", I'd rather single out you as the problem, not the original person sending the email.

You live in a democracy. People are entitled to different opinions. For your own sake, I say you better get used to it.


> That's a very subjective judgement on your part.

Of course but that's the nature of judgements.

> I think you will find that almost half the posts are in stark disagreement with your position

Indeed, I have read most of them and I would put money on them being from libertarian / alt-right dudes who would take up any cause, no matter how reprehensible, if it gave rise to "liberal tears". Given I've seen people defending Charles Murray in these threads, I'm 100% A-OK being on the other side.

> You live in a democracy. People are entitled to different opinions.

You're missing the important bit - "People are entitled to different opinions but they are not entitled to a consequence free expression of those opinions [1]."

[1] Except in very limited circumstances in the US.


> Yes, almost as if the entire system was heavily weighted in their favour!

"The entire system"? Is this system like the Matrix, or is it governed by people? How did a "dumb frat bro" ever manage to get into Google in the first place when Google's system seems so actively hostile to them?

> Does that tactic ever work for you in arguments?

I didn't anticipate that you would argue "the system" was supporting "dumb frat bros", when quite clearly he was not receiving any support from Google, yet somehow managed to join them and work there.


Google is trying to differentiate itself from the rest of the system.

The system, on context, clearly refers to the world of education and technology as a whole.

In fact, there doesn't need to be an explicit bad actor to have detrimental systemic effects. Just a long slow build up of bias. Like the idea, worked into our heads from a young age, that boys are better at science.


> when Google's system seems so actively hostile to them?

The key word here is "seems" and it only "seems so actively hostile" -to them- themselves. I don't think any impartial outside observer would say your average privileged white dude had an "actively hostile" environment at Google (or, indeed, almost anywhere else.)


You misunderstand the biological component argument, I think. It's not that men are massively more suited to some jobs and women are massively more suited to some jobs. It's that for some abilities the the center of the wide bell curve for men is not at the same place as the center of the wide bell curve for women.

For example, for verbal abilities the female bell curve is a little to the right of the male bell curve. For spatial abilities, it is the other way around. Does this mean men cannot be excellent writers, and women cannot be excellent mechanical engineers?

No.

It just means that if all else were equal, we would expect writing and mechanical engineering to have gender distributions that don't match the general population.


I think you are also misjudging the effects, and to talk about ability is harmful to the very debate. There are some differences in ability, but they seem to even themselves out (men are better at mental rotation, women have better visual memory, etc.), the total effect on general intelligence appears to be none.

However, there are measurable psychological differences when it comes to preference of the role you want to take, how much risk you are willing to take, and what your priorities regarding status and family are, and we do have evidence that some of it is, at least partially, biological.


In Europe we don't (seem to) have the fratboy culture, but there are still very few women in tech. (Regarding race, certain groups seem to be overrepresented and others underrepresented) its mainly white guys, but Europe is mainly white.


Fratboy culture is just the latest manifestation of racism/sexism. Last I checked Europe had its fair share of issues there.


So Europe is racist and sexist? Sounds like that's what you are getting at.


I was saying that the fratboy culture wasn't a prerequisite for racism and sexism. And that Europe has their own issues with both. Or do you disagree?


There are studies in infants that probes a different favoritism for things that are highly correlated with gender.

How do you explain that infants without being corrupted by the popular culture still chose differently based on gender?


I'm going to disagree here on one thing: The pool being biased isn't a problem that the hirer can or should deal with; it's out of their hands because their position in the chain is far further along of where the problem lies. So I would submit that no, an employer shouldn't have to compensate for a pool bias because they have no impact on it but in turn it can only lead to lower long term outcomes for them.

Personally I suspect that there's a mix of both cultural (girls play with dolls traditionally) and biological (boys tend to be more attracted to tinkering and building from even before they learn to speak) reasons for the ratio in people studying IT-related fields but I just don't see how making hiring practices biased in any direction will help with that.


>If I were I woman (or belong to minority) I would prefer to be being hired without any diversity program.

Only someone who is not a woman or not from a minority could say this. People tend to dismiss other peoples problem or minimize them, even when those people are telling they are hurting.


> Only someone who is not a woman or not from a minority could say this.

This is a little presumptuous. I am a woman and I too would prefer to be hired without any diversity program. I am not inherently against them and think that striving for diversity is overall a positive thing, but when I compare the thought of being hired as part of some target female quota or active diversity push vs being hired as a "regular" candidate I prefer the latter.

Diversity programs I appreciate more are those less involved in the actual hiring phase and more in the teaching girls to code and getting them interested in the subject phase. Of course I'm privileged and lucky in other ways and understand that plenty of other women feel differently.


Well it's better to have a job that to don't have one, right?

But being treated as less capable thus requiring lower barrier of entry to women is just plain old sexism.


Do you mean that women are treated as less capable so companies put in place lower barriers to entry for them? Assuming I didn't misunderstand your comment, that's not really how it works. Companies have these sorts of diversity initiatives not because they think women are less capable, but because it has been shown that women in tech often experience toxic or otherwise negative conditions in the workplace in relation to their gender. These programs are a way for companies to try to course-correct. I don't always agree with the methods, but I believe the overall initiative is a positive one.

I somewhat agree with the other comment here that "you wouldn't need a diversity program, sensitivity training, or unconscious bias training if you stopped hiring frat boys with no life experience straight out of college." I would just add to that that the issue isn't just the frat boys hired straight out of college, but also some experienced devs who were allowed to simply remain in the frat boy mindset as they aged in the industry.


Bingo. In my opinion, you wouldn't need a diversity program, sensitivity training, or unconscious bias training if you stopped hiring frat boys with no life experience straight out of college.

They have done this to themselves and now have to force policies to make it seem like good PR. It wasn't even until a few months ago they even changed their pay structure because of "extreme" gender gaps.


Am a black programmer. Would hate to be a diversity hire. Don't feel like I'm hurting.

Do I qualify as belonging to a minority according to your definition of "the oppressed", or will you "dismiss or minimize" my opinion because it doesn't align with yours?


Would much like to know your opinion on why people in your position don't confront the architects of these "diversity hire" programs with reasoned argument to dismantle them as doing more harm than good.

I'm trying to approach this respectfully by acknowledging that I know it's only your opinion, but I rarely get the opportunity to ask something like this, so please forgive me if my curiosity seems out of line - I genuinely want to understand better and no offensive is intended.


No worries, I'm of the opinion that offense can only be taken, never given.

As for your question, I live neither in the US nor in Canada, and where I live "diversity hire" programs don't even exist. I'm also a contractor, so it doesn't apply to me anyways.

Finally, I don't really have well-reasoned arguments against affirmative action. All I have is literally the thought that "F* anyone who tries to take my agency away by calling me a victim."

"When you do a fault analysis, there's no point in assigning fault to a part of the system you can't change afterward, it's like stepping off a cliff and blaming gravity. Gravity isn't going to change next time. There's no point in trying to allocate responsibility to people who aren't going to alter their actions. Once you look at it from that perspective, you realize that allocating blame never helps anything unless you blame yourself, because you're the only one whose actions you can change by putting blame there." -- HP:MOR

If I fail, I fail because I wasn't good enough. I am in control of my life. Perhaps the bar for me is higher than for a random white person, but so what? If I work hard and reach the bar set for me, I will have surpassed the vast majority of white people in the process, and even if I fail at reaching the bar, I will still be in an excellent position to monetize the acquired lead. So win or fail, I always come out ahead.


I'm a minority where I live and work. I apologize for my language but fuck whoever would hire me based on that over my technical qualifications. A place that would do that is a place where I have no interested in working for.

Please don't presume to speak for all minorities and even worse, dismiss other people's opinions just because they belong to certain groups like you just did.


While I agree with the sentiment, we seem to often jump to extremes in these discussions. I highly doubt Google would hire you based on your minority status over your technical qualifications alone. There are many factors in any hire whether you are a minority or not - candidates are evaluated on their technical qualifications, manner of speaking, "culture fit", who they know, where they're from, etc. Just because all of these come into play does not mean any one of these is going to outweigh the ones most directly related to the ability to do one's job.


There is a tendency to think that each new hire is always the far-and-away best match of all candidates and so any influence that diversity policies might have is at the detriment of a superior candidate. In my experience with hiring, the final round of interviews usually comes down to a handful of equally qualified applicants. Barring any sudden red flags at this point, whoever gets the job is just luckier than the others.


> Only someone who is not a woman or not from a minority could say this.

How could you possibly know that?


>Only someone who is not a woman or not from a minority could say this.

This statement is just way out there. I almost want to say the opposite to you.

I've known an African American PhD who says this. After his defense he had trouble finding a job. My company was ramping up hiring of minorities. He sent me his resume, and I asked him if I should enter his minority status in the system as it would prioritize his application. He said "No way."

He didn't get a decent job for a whole year after that. He doesn't regret it at all.


Haha. Clearly you are not a woman. I've heard many, many women express this. Do you know how insulting it is to be a diversity hire?


Not insulting to me. I'd love to be a diversity hire. Instead I just don't get hired, and the Government tell me I'm a lying cunt and threaten to take away my benefits for not being able to find a job.


My company is all about diversity hires; please send a CV they'd love to have you aboard if you're willing to relocate.

https://massive.se/jobs

edit: not sure why downvotes, I'm being sincere. :S


You have prejudices about me. I have faced discrimination in another areas of my life. So I think I can have an opinion about it. I have also talked with woman that think the same as me.

Are you discriminating me to give an opinion because I am a male? I don't think it is fair. I could also say that you shouldn't talk about gender equality if you don't live in a country with high gender equality and so you argument doesn't add any value with the discussion.


> Only someone who is not a woman or not from a minority could say this. People tend to dismiss other peoples problem or minimize them, even when those people are telling they are hurting.

Only someone who is a woman or from a minority with liberal views could say this. How can you speak for 70% of people? How are you hurting from being treated equally to the 30%?


If you were a woman, you might think that being hired under a diversity initiative is okay, given that the alternative is not to get the opportunity at all due to systemic discrimination in hiring.


I actually have constant fears about this, I always wonder because of programs like this if I am good enough or am I just a diversity hire.


The discrimination problem is very real, and our current solution is just a hack which works as long as you agree that perfect is the enemy of good. The weird thing about this particular situation is most pro and anti positive-discrimination comments are made by idealists who should be more or less perfectionists in their subject by definition. One side complains about society not being perfect and the other complains that the solution to fixing it is not perfect.

Meanwhile normal people deal with more practical problems like yours.


> due to systemic discrimination in hiring.

It's ridiculous how many times I see this dropped out of nowhere in this thread without any sources or proof.

This is a very contentious statement on a two sided issue.

It is similar to proclaiming that minimum wage increases will always lower job opportunities without any proof.


The proof is probably too obvious so nobody bothers to explain it to you. I will make an attempt.

At the current rate of $X / hour, there are a number of economically viable jobs (jobs where the employer considers it valuable to hire someone instead of doing the job themselves or doing without, because they are worth at least $Y / hour to the employer, with Y > X).

At an increased rate of $Z / hour, Z > X, some of those jobs are no longer economically viable - they only generate $Y / hour, with Z > Y > X; while they were viable at $X / hour, they are no longer viable at $Z / hour so they disappear. For an obvious example, making the minimum wage $1000 / hour would destroy the viability of most jobs.

This proof assumes, of course, that nothing else changes - the government simply mandates "the minimum wage will change from $X / hour to $Z / hour" and doesn't add other changes like "all taxes are halved" or "all employers get free Bahamas holidays". With that caveat, also known as "ceteris paribus", the proof is (as I said) obvious.


How does a minimum wage argument relate to systemic discrimination? Inject more persons into a workforce increases supply and depresses wages, it doesn't inflate hourly costs.


It doesn't. He just wanted to argue about minimum wage lol


>systematic discrimination in hiring

That's a funny term for merit-based.


I have trouble believing only white men can come up with enough merit to be hired for a normal entry level job.


Without digging too deep into the rest of this issue, do you consider Asian men white? Or is the situation a little more complicated than white men only choosing their own?


Just to clarify, my comment is not meant to defend poor hiring practices in any way, I'm very much in favor of agressive efforts to improve diversity numbers (including heavy affirmative action). I just get bothered by the use of the term "white" to refer to groups with heavy Asian representation; these groups have vastly different experiences than whites do, and lumping them all together just because they're present in tech and tend to be financially successful is a dangerous oversimplification. The systematic problems go much deeper than people just hiring people that look like they do, if that was the whole problem we'd have achieved parity a long time ago.


As a non-white man, please show me where I can find these normal entry level jobs that pay six-figures out of college. Please, I have student loans and my mother is sick.


I would look in the same places as white men look for these jobs. I am in a country where six figure salaries aren't the norm for Engineers.


...what?


I believe he was agreeing with your point.


Merit, most of time has nothing to do with one ends up, especially in the US.


Are companies more interested in messing with minorities than they are in maximizing profits? Someone should tell the shareholders.


I think that if you have skills you will find something. if you don't have them then it might be more difficult than for men. Why do you think women cannot find ANY job in tech because of the systematic discrimination? I don't think everybody in the world is like that (maybe few as for everything in life)


Would you rather get a job on the merits at an insurance agency's IT department, or be a diversity hire at Google?

It's nice to say "I'd prefer to be hired at Google on my merits", but few individuals from disadvantaged groups go into job seeking expecting that ideal situation to occur, and they're forced to make suboptimal tradeoffs just because they're disadvantaged.


I don't like big companies, I prefer startups. I am happier.

I once left a company because of the internal culture, they were not listening to the people from other countries. I didn't agree with the culture and left telling them the reason. After me more people followed. I have also left other things for similar reasons, even when everybody were telling i was doing a mistake. I just prefer to be somewhere I am happy even if it involves less money or status.


"not to get the opportunity at all due to systemic discrimination in hiring" - this is not reality but only your imagination.


Your denial of reality is noted. Systemic discrimination against women in hiring has been exhaustively documented and studied, including in the tech industry.


I think you should cite references. It will make your point stronger and I want to read them!


I don't have a pile of references at hand since this isn't my area of study, but here's what I was able to google up:

1. http://www.uh.edu/~adkugler/Bertrand&Mullainathan.pdf This study was primarily aimed at identifying the impact of race, but incidentally showed that resumes with females names received a lower number of callbacks, in addition to the race based effect.

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3970474/ "Without provision of information about candidates other than their appearance, men are twice more likely to be hired for a mathematical task than women."

3. http://www.pnas.org/content/109/41/16474.abstract "Faculty participants rated the male applicant as significantly more competent and hireable than the (identical) female applicant. These participants also selected a higher starting salary and offered more career mentoring to the male applicant."

4. http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/ilrreview/vol65/iss1/5... "the authors show that [anonymous application procedure] increased the chances of both women and individuals of non-Western origin of advancing to the interview stage."

5. http://www.nber.org/papers/w5903 Anonymization in orchestra additions (blind screening) led to women advancing out of preliminary rounds 50% more often.


#1: I don't see any support for your summary. It says instead "Interestingly, females in sales jobs appear to receive more callbacks than males; however, this (reverse) gender gap is statistically insignificant and economically much smaller than any of the racial gaps discussed above."

I can easily dig up studies showing opposite results:

"Contrary to prevailing assumptions, men and women faculty members from all four fields preferred female applicants 2:1 over identically qualified males with matching lifestyles (single, married, divorced), with the exception of male economists, who showed no gender preference. " http://www.pnas.org/content/112/17/5360.abstract

"We found that the public servants engaged in positive (not negative) discrimination towards female and minority candidates: • Participants were 2.9% more likely to shortlist female candidates and 3.2% less likely to shortlist male applicants when they were identifiable, compared with when they were de-identified." https://pmc.gov.au/sites/default/files/publications/beta-unc...

"Teaching accreditation exams reveal grading biases favor women in male-dominated disciplines in France" http://science.sciencemag.org/content/353/6298/474


Those studies have tiny sample sizes, and aren't even in the tech industry.


I was making a counterpoint to the parent post. Note the links there, nothing much to do with tech. And you're completely wrong about sample sizes:

"Comparisons of oral non–gender-blind tests with written gender-blind tests for about 100,000 individuals "

"Over 2,100 public servants"

"validation studies were conducted on 873 tenure-track faculty"



I would like to see a similar study done in IT, though I suspect the outcome will be similar.

I personally would like to have more women in tech, but it seems implausible that the current dearth is because of any systemic discrimination against women.

I wonder why people are claiming that this is a reason for the problem?


So you lack basic reading skills. I quote "not to get the opportunity at all due to systemic discrimination in hiring", you read "systemic discrimination in hiring". Apparently, you lost "not to get the opportunity at all" and "due to". Don't you see that?


My sister was extremely put off going into CS after the career adviser at her school literally told her "you should go into CS since companies will have to hire you because you are a woman and they have quotas to fill". She was so upset by this she didn't even want to consider trying a CS degree.


I think any company should hire diversely in terms of qualifications too, regardless of gender; there's far too many job postings out there where they ask for 5+ years of experience. Even entry-level with X years of experience.

I'm glad at least that some IT employers care less about education and look more at potential and whatnot.


Why do you assume the men being hired are more qualified than the women who were passed over?

The hiring process is subjective, not fair. There is extensive evidence that just having a name that is assumed to be female makes a candidate less likely to get hired. Without diversity programs, less qualified men are hired over more qualified women, producing the skewed results we observe.

Women are on average more qualified than the men in the same jobs they hold because of these social forces, so your assumptions make you particularly systematically wrong.


"If I were I woman (or belong to minority) I would prefer to be being hired without any diversity program."

This is like saying "I'd enjoy my success more without the Mortgage Interest Deduction unfairly advantaging me financially". Theoretically feasible, but in practical reality, uh no. If you're hacking it in a competitive environment and you have a life, you most assuredly have 1,000 more important/interesting things on your mind.


You have to strive for the things you want in live, nothing is easy for anyone.

Do I want a better salary? a better job? yes. But I want a quality of life, I don't want to work long hours. So I wont have something better because I have other preferences in life. And I am ok with it.


Cool.


Completely inaccurate analogy. The MID is in the tax code available and given blindly to everybody who wants to apply for a house, not part of any human judgment on merit or ability.

A more relevant one would be whether brokers are now showing houses or discussing financing options differently to people based a perception of the person's identity group.


Apparently it's your hobby horse, but there's no reason an analogy has to adhere to the topic of identity politics. Few people give active thought to the advantages they're born into or receive throughout life - that the GP thinks people advantaged by hiring preferences would prefer to have been hired some other way is just a failure to comprehend human psychology. Unless they're writing a blog on the topic, most people are more busy with their jobs and lives to care about their hiring process.


I am a woman and do NOT want to be (or viewed as) a token diversity hire. It affects my job because it means I get less interesting work, in practical reality. Diversity programs mean that equally & highly qualified women operate under the cloud of an assumed diversity hire, and are thus, viewed as less-competent.


Are you working in a competitive field? I know and have worked with many women and minorities in highly competitive fields (medicine, engineering) where diversity programs were in effect and the idea that there's any kind of stigma or that they could be remotely correlated with a less competent team is simply a joke.


White male, so checking my privilege, however I know my "widening participation" status influenced certain opportunities I had access to in the run up to university, and quite likely as part of a numbers game for the university place itself.

I've often thought about how I feel knowing something as simple as the postcode I grew up in affected how I got somewhere, but always arrive at it being a net positive.

There are pros and cons to it all of course, and it doesn't take away from the fear that you don't deserve it. But, society needs to kickstart the fortuitous cycle of opportunity, direction and inspiration somehow. When a group of people have no role models, nobody empathetic of their route or life chances or aware of any other skills they can bring, we can't progress.

When we're talking about whether someone is more or less qualified, it's not like it's a AAA+ grade male vs a CCD- female. It's (in almost all cases), very small variations of tangential achievements, most of which can be outweighed with a minority group bringing a different group of life experiences to the table.


> It's (in almost all cases), very small variations of tangential achievements, most of which can be outweighed with a minority group bringing a different group of life experiences to the table.

Actually, diversity initiatives can decrease cultural diversity in tech. Many diversity initiatives leave immigrants behind and mainly benefit Americans.

It can be said that foreigners are considered more "culturally diverse" than Americans in USA based workplaces. Diversity programs might increase gender and racial diversity, but also decrease foreign representation as a result and make a company less culturally diverse.


I think male Asians and Indians are not considered as adding as much 'diversity' in tech.


I would disagree. While he obviously sees the diversity programs as misguided, he stops short of calling for an end to them. To quote:

> Have an open and honest discussion about the costs and benefits of our diversity programs.

I understand that discussions within a business are different than talking with friends around the kitchen table, but I still think that you should go as far as you possibly can to have open discussions about sensitive topics like this. Of course you aren't going to open a dialogue about the benefits of white power, but there is still a lot of ground to cover between that and what people are doing this weekend. I think that the original article fits into that realm of what is acceptable to at least talk about, regardless of whether you disagree or not.


> > Have an open and honest discussion about the costs and benefits of our diversity programs.

To which the diversity proponents are quick to rally a mob and get the guy fired. Open and honest discussion indeed.

If you are so insecure in your ideological position that you can't even have a discussion about it without calling foul, I'd consider that the best possible sign that you actually need to have that discussion.

It's the only way to make sure that it's properly rooted and based on fact, and to legitimize it, and by proxy, the means you use to further it.

Sticking your head in the sand to avoid criticism will probably do the exact opposite, and sure as hell wont further your cause.


Except it wasn't a call to open discussion, it was an anonymously published manifesto that directly affected other members of the company. You can't just publish a manifesto about the benefits of slavery without some backlash, you can't publish your opinion that we should repeal the laws against religious discrimination without backlash either, nor can you publish your opinions about race or gender without expecting backlash because publishing those opinions inside a company where those groups are present is inherently threatening.

It's been accepted for a long time that the place for arguments against racial, religious, or gender programs is not the workplace. I'm a man and I find his manifesto an issue, he said things about men that are blatantly untrue, and frankly unhealthy as well, and I wouldn't want to work with him.

People's opinion on their coworkers is for private discussions with their manager and HR, and don't get precedence over their colleagues comfort and security at work. It's been that way since black people got rights and women got the vote.


Give me a break.

1. It wasn't published anonymously

2. What he's saying is not even close to promoting slavery or legally allowing religious discrimination

3. The entire point of the screed was that the diversity issue isn't talked about openly but should be. The response by Google's diversity chief literally says:

> Part of building an open, inclusive environment means fostering a culture in which those with alternative views, including different political views, feel safe sharing their opinions.

So your assumption that these things should not be discussed at Google is wrong, at least in the eyes of their Diversity chief, who's opinion I would think is highly relevant in this case

Finally, like many others in this thread deride what's said in this article as untrue and unhealthy without ever backing it up. Obviously I'm not saying the article is 100% right, but most the claims he makes about men and women have scientific backing, they are just not regularly discussed. As others have noted his premises about men and women being biologically different are basically a summary of this study:

http://sci-hub.cc/10.1111/j.1751-9004.2010.00320.x


> You can't just publish a manifesto about the benefits of slavery without some backlash

And that's the problem. In a truly open forum for ideas and discussion I would expect ideas about, like your example cites, the benefits of slavery to be actually freely discussed without negative consequence to the people involved. We don't get better as a society by not examining ideas in detail frequently.


I think your point was already addressed with:

>People's opinion on their coworkers is for private discussions with their manager and HR, and don't get precedence over their colleagues comfort and security at work.


"Have an honest discussion", "review", etc, are all weasel words for "cut down on". This is the same across industries, it's bog-standard doublespeak. To "have an honest discussion" about a diversity program that we're not already having means that at least one party has a strong belief that they should be ended or seriously cut down.


> To "have an honest discussion" about a diversity program that we're not already having means that at least one party has a strong belief that they should be ended or seriously cut down.

Stated differently: Someone has an opinion that the system currently in place doesn't fully work and wants to discuss change.

If we're not allowed to invite to a discussion, how else do you suggest we facilitate change, or investigate the need for such change?

You don't seriously imply that there's never a need to review the basis for existing programs? Or are you just ignoring the general principle of things "because diversity"?


No, my point is solely in response to that post - to say "we need to have an honest discussion" is quite specifically to say "we need to end/severely cut down on it". If you wanted to suggest another path to hiring women - say, apprenticeships - you could do that without needing to prefix that with "we need an honest discussion". Whether we actually do or not is irrelevant, but suggesting that it's somehow not saying that is at the very least confused and misguided.


> No, my point is solely in response to that post - to say "we need to have an honest discussion" is quite specifically to say "we need to end/severely cut down on it"

That's not how I read it.

I read it as trying as carefully as possible to start a discussion about having a discussion about a topic by many deemed to be sensitive. And change doesn't have to merely be cutting something, as you suggest. It can be replacing something ineffective/unfair with something more effective or less unfair.

There's literally nothing in that sentence which says "we need to remove/cut down on all programs related to subject $x". I'm not sure where you're getting that from. To me, your response to this fairly harmless email seems overly defensive. Are you acting rationally based on what has been said, or are overreacting based on things you assume to be said?

Maybe this would be a good time to (re?)-read the original email[1]?

[1] https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3914586/Googles-I...


I'm getting that from the fact that I'm reasonably heavily involved in politics in my country and I'm well aware of the wording used to wrap up ideas in such a way that they're going to be accepted by as many people as possible without ever actually explaining what you're about to do.

"We need to have an honest discussion" or the dreaded word "review" always prefaces dicing up some policy, usually without an adequate replacement.


Even if that's true, and the writer was advancing a hidden, more devious agenda, I still think its likely that the best course of action is to engage it as if it were advanced in good faith, in a fair, reasonable way.

Encouraging immediate, unthinking, righteous and moralistic condemnation over rational discourse on issues close to the friction points of various cultural/ideological conflicts, is quite a dangerous thing to do, even if its satisfying and cathartic (that's precisely why its so damn dangerous).


And? Blaming everyone for "double speak" is rather counter-productive and a great way to destroy the discussion, as it ignores some people are actually interested in a honest discussion. What a wonderful way to create toxic environment ...

Having an open discussion means you accept that other participants may have very different opinions, and agree that honest fact-based discussion is the correct solution.


No. If you want to suggest cutting down on something, suggest cutting down on it. Don't wrap it up on weasel words that never actually say "cut down on it". Governments, management, etc, are well-known for this tactic - they'll say "we're going to review this policy", and the next thing you know it's been diced to shreds, but the politicians/management involved never actually outright said "we're ending this policy" so they get off without apparently having ever said anything to alienate anyone.


The fact that group X is known to use certain tactic does not mean Y is using it too.

In any case, screaming "WE'RE NOT EVEN DISCUSSING THAT!" and calling for getting the person fired is hardly a proper response. What I'd like to see is a fact-based response to the memo, showing numbers/reasoning for the individual policies, etc.

My main take away is you really can't openly discuss this topic (not just in Google), which was one of the points. Ironic.


The story is currently at "1600 points by QUFB 14 hours ago | 2129 comments" so your take away that you can't discuss this topic is indeed ironic.


The primary place where the policies should be discussed is the company. He got fired for sharing his opinions. I don't see how is that supporting open discussion of the topic?


> The fact that group X is known to use certain tactic does not mean Y is using it too.

No, the use of English in politics (which this is) is pretty consistent, actually, in my experience. If he wanted to have a discussion, point at a policy and suggest an alternative rather than falling back on "merit is good, women are terrible engineers".

Replacing discriminatory hiring with paid apprenticeships and other education for groups the organisation is lacking in, would be a great example. Men can still get into Google because there's more of them in the pool. They're never discriminated against for a job, since the apprenticeship pool is separate from the job pool. Google gets a more-qualified, more-diverse workplace with more control over its training program. A win for everybody.


Firstly, I'm not a native speaker and I don't dare to judge how consistently is English used in politics. But once again, I claim that making conclusions merely based on "language similarity" or something like that is a poor way to discuss stuff.

Secondly, I find it perfectly valid to discuss the very foundation of the policies (instead of discussing individual policies).

FWIW this does not mean I agree with the memo. But I think the immediate calls for getting the guy fired (and firing him) are damaging for the discussion.


So you're saying that discussing something, a discussion which can lead to cutting it down if deemed appropriate, is never a good thing? The way I see it, you're effectively rallying against a closer examination of a system regardless of whether it's a system that benefits or hinders the environment it exists in.

I hope you'll forgive me for saying it but that is my definition of the "burying your head in the sand" expression.

edit: furthermore, what if he's in fact saying that he wants them to be cut down? Why isn't that a reasonable motive to want something to be more closely examined?


If you're coming to the table with the pre-conceived notion that the program is bad and needs to be shut down without adequate replacement, then that's not in good faith. I'm responding to the idea that this person is, somehow, wanting a good-faith discussion - he's not, he has a specific goal of shutting down the program.

If people would like to discuss this, they can at least discuss it for what it is - an attack on the program. Treat it as such. Don't hide behind "he just wants to talk".

There are, no doubt, many people who discuss Google's diversity programs every day on a good-faith basis. They don't need a manifesto in order to do so.


It seems that it is you who is coming to the table with the pre-conceived notion that the program is an absolute good and that the letter is an absolute bad.


I read the letter. It has some very good points - many of which feminists have been pointing out for ages, to the surprise of nobody who's actually been listening to feminists. It also has some terrible points, and uses a severe misunderstanding of gender to attack women who work for or intend to work for Google. The decent points it does make are mostly an aside to the main point, which is that the author has a very strong belief that diversity programs are inherently bad and that women are biologically weak engineers.


I added an edit later, I assume it was after you replied so I'll ask again:

What's the problem of wanting some light shed on a program because someone openly believes it should be shut down? They're not doing an executive decision to shut it down without allowing for discussion, which is exactly what Google management is doing. He posted an opinion, partially based on facts and partially based on conjecture to bring attention to it.

In short: there's nothing wrong with wanting a program to be shut down and using that as motivation to put it in the spotlight. I don't see how motivations should get in the way of discussion and examination of existing systems; a system that is beneficial to it's environment should be able to stand on its own merits.

ugh, my "in short" is as long as its preceding paragraph :(


Generally speaking, actually, the vast majority of systems are fragile enough to fail to stand up to consistent attack. I don't subscribe at all to your belief that a good system can never be successfully attacked.


I think we're in agreement on what the original author personally believes about diversity programs. But there is a difference between outright calling for the end of diversity programs at Google and wanting to discuss it further. It seems that the commenter I originally replied to in this chain doesn't differentiate between these two goals, which is why I said something in the first place.


There is no reason to discuss it in a way which you think requires a manifesto as a preface unless you think they should be ended or severely cut down in some way. And the author quite obviously does think that. So yes, taking it as the first step in an attack on diversity programs is perfectly reasonable. Most people are perfectly happy to talk about them with someone who didn't come up to them with the pre-formed argument that they should be scrapped or that they're harmful.


Maybe I'm reading too much into your post but I sense some anger or indignance. If that's true it is misplaced. Understand that if he phrased it any other way, he would have been further crucified.

Phrasing it more honestly and straightforward would be heresy in a corporate environment.


No, I'm mostly upset that people are taking the document as something much lighter than what it is due to its use of weasel words. Take a critical read of it with some understanding of political speech and what comes out is "the author believes that all gender-based diversity programs should be scrapped with minimal replacement" - I'd like people to read it as that and discuss it based on what it actually means, rather than trying to suggest that it's anything less than that.


> because his manifesto was a haphazard collection of good points, bad points, good arguments, lousy arguments, misrepresentations of others' views, and unstated implications.

Is this really an honest assessment? I haven't yet seen a single reply to the manifesto that addresses its points and counters the supposedly "lousy arguments" in a neutral tone and objective manner. Please point me to one if you have...



This post has been shared widely but I found it offering zero substance but lots of moral preaching. The only thing what this piece had going for it was that it was published early and spoke to the ideological crowd that was unwilling to even factually and constructively engage with the content from the memo.

I found this post to be the only one I saw that actually managed to rebut some of the memo author's conclusions. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/differences-between-men-women...


Have you read this post? It corrects some of the mistakes made by the one you linked: http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/08/07/contra-grant-on-exagger...


Yes I read this after I posted. It's tough, the whole thing.


Quote from the article:

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.

This article specifically avoids countering the original article point-by-point. I would love to see an article or comment that does that.


Considering it starts with a straw man, continues in a highly emotional tone, doesn't address a single point of the original "manifesto", and is little more than a piece written to prop the author up ("I don't even work at Google anymore but I had to clean up after you, son.."), I fail to see that article as more than an embarrassment for the (very senior) guy who wrote it.


He claims the author is ignorant of gender, yet the person has turned out to be a PhD in a Biology related field from Harvard.


He doesn't have a PhD. https://twitter.com/nitashatiku/status/894939560391565317. He was in the PhD program at Harvard for two years, and published nothing during that time.


Was going to correct (posts don't have edit function), my other posts mention he has a Masters.


How about you write one, then? If you want an assessment that meets your definition of a neutral tone and objective manner, who better to provide it?


Sure, the second paragraph of this is a good example:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14953024


> It's worth remembering that one of his conclusions was to end or replace gender-based diversity programs at Google. Given that, it's easy to understand why people would be upset. If gender-based diversity programs are responsible for qualified women getting jobs that they otherwise wouldn't have gotten due to bias, then the lack of that program means those women wouldn't have gotten those jobs.

This is not exactly a strong counter-argument.


> If gender-based diversity programs are responsible...

> If...

Nothing empirical in that sentence just assumption. And even if we assume that statement is true, on the other side of same coin are qualified men that didn't get job solely because of their genitalia.


Gender based diversity programs are hurting more than they are helping because they are confusing the role of gender diversity with the role of talent diversity.

These programs are most likely not responsible for qualified women getting jobs and even if they are they are also responsible for qualified men not getting the jobs so nothing is really gained.

The idea of qualification is something that is misunderstood far into academia as it assumes some sort of quantitative measurement is possible.

The reality is that short of what you have paper on (she's a bachelor he's a bachelor) qualifications really isn't about skills but about personality and I would challenge anyone to find even close to a way of measuring how a person fits into a company short of asking the people who work there whether they think person X fits or not.

Furthermore the idea that diversity is better for companies really need to die. Diversity is good in many cases but you can easily have one company filled with women and one company filled with men and having the group of women being of very diverse backgrounds and the group of men being of very diverse backgrounds. You still have diversity. Hell you can even have a group of women being of exactly the same background and a group of men being of exactly the same background and do really really well.

The idea the women brings something to the table simply by being women or that men does simply by being men is what is so wrong with this whole conversation. The individual brings something to the table but the individual needs to fit into a culture not being force fed into it.

Having hired and interviewed a great deal of people in my life in the tech industry I think it's fair to say that most companies will look for ANY talent they can get to. Talent is extremely hard to find and being a woman or being a man is not enough.

More women will hopefully start companies and I hope some of them will hire only women if they feel it's better for their culture. But until they start doing that to the same extent that men does and until they start to the same extent having interest in technology early on, gender based anything will always be hurting more than it will help because just having gender diversity isn't going to make your company better off there simply aren't anything proving that.

And just to be clear. I have worked with women and men far better than me. When it comes to the best there really isn't any difference. I have worked for plenty of female bosses and they are as good as the men I have worked with.


The cold, hard facts prove that unless we force a change, it will not change.

The simple counter argument to this, and what changed my mind utterly, was that the number of woman on boards never changed. "Women will setup companies" was what they said in the 70s, 50 years ago.

It never worked until we started forcing it. There's still a ridiculously small percentage of female chairs. There's still a ridiculously small percentage of female board members.

If they're just as good, as you say, and I also believe, why didn't it change? Because gender discrimination is rife.

Without positive discrimination, the status quo did not change, will not change.

Doesn't matter anything you said above, it's all noise. It doesn't correct itself like you say it will.


That's not a counter argument because women DIDN'T actually start companies and still doesn't. So what do you want to do? Force them to? According to you, that's what we need.

The reason why people get board seats is again one of those misunderstood discussions. It has absolutely nothing to do with qualification as in non-at-all. What it has to do with is the board members access to network, political power, special experience etc.

So as long as you and other keep insisting qualification is somehow important in this discussion, you are actually the ones making the noise.

Qualification has nothing to do with this.


In your numerous replies, two things are clear. You're annoyed that older coders can struggle to get jobs and you think women can start their own companies and programming clubs and seem to be insinuating that they should leave ours alone.

If you're having a problem getting a job 'cause you're old in SV, I'm sorry. I have no such age discrimination problem in the UK, loads of jobs here but not any where as well paid as the US. I might point out that you had 20 years to make a ton of bank. If you want to fix age discrimination, campaign for it, but leave it out of this thread.

As for companies being boys clubs, to me that's clearly unacceptable, it's simply wrong to say that a "company culture" can be male only as that's clear discrimination.

If you think that discrimination's ok, it feels as if you want to take it out on women because you want to go back to living in a man-cave, replete with pizzas and then a late night coding sessions followed by a game of Quake, where women don't fit because they spurned us at high school. And if they want to join in, they better start their own company.

Do that with your mates, that view doesn't belong in a company, shouldn't belong in a company. It's not a male-only social club.

But if you agree that's wrong, you and I caused this problem, and we're the ones who have to fix it, have the opportunity to fix it. Perhaps our Dads and Grandads told us computers are for men only, but they aren't and we don't have to wait until your kids are growing up to fix this. We can fix this now, and positive discrimination is a way that works.

Tech is growing up and we need to fix the gender imbalance we helped cause.


I am not a coder, I have no issues getting work as I run my own company.

But it's now clear that without strawmen you have no arguments just insults and claims about my person you can't back up. But I guess that's kind of symptomatic for this discussion isn't it?


These are your arguments, it's not a strawman when you're saying these things. These are direct quotes, of you, in this thread:

Old white male coders in SV, which it now turns out you have no personal experience of and just making stuff up about:

Try being +40 in Silicon Valley

Try and get a job in SV after you turn 45.

Examples of you saying women can't be part of our club, because they didn't play with the right toys when they were 12:

Women aren't tech nerds as much as men are we know that for a fact

men also takes the most high paying jobs because more of them were interested in technology early on and are better at selling themselves

is that less women start companies or get into tech early on

Examples of you saying women can't be a part of existing tech companies, they should form their own:

get more women to start a tech company

More women will hopefully start companies and I hope some of them will hire only women

Push your girls to start their own companies to build their own networks

In Norway where they have quotas all that happened is that now there is just also an old ladies network with the same women sitting on many of the boards


You are the gift that keeps giving huh. More strawmen.

Those are not arguments they are facts you can educate yourself about them which is obviously not in your interest.

Furthermore I would suggest you learn the language of the country you live in. None of those quotes mean what you claim they mean.


A friend works at the European Commission, where there is a strict 50/50 male/female requirement for all hires and all positions. Apparently it is causing problems because too many women refuse to be promoted in management. So they don't have enough managers to start new projects.


Is this true, what citations do you have?

You've just cited an anecdote to try and counter mountains of scientific research.

There could be all sorts of nefarious stuff going on. Could he have been refused a promotion and now blames women? What's the back story? Has he gone on record? Is there a real problem or is a misogynistic manager using it as an excuse to him to cover his own incompetence?


Apparently the matter came when some women started to complain that they had been pressured into accepting management positions, didn't like the added stress, but had no possibility to move to other positions due to manager shortages.

And yes it is an anecdote, so no there's no citations, but most posts in this discussion don't cite citations either.


What if they're not just as good? What if they could be as good, but aren't interested? That part isn't fact, it's an assumption - one that it's time to reexamine given that things have turned out differently from how we expected.


Listen to yourself, substitute the words you just used with the words any reasonable woman hears:

What if women are just not as intelligent? What if they could be as intelligent, but are lazy?

I appreciate you think you're being rational and reasonable. You're not.


Why do you have to make up something which wasn't said to have an argument?

Women do make different choices we know that for a fact. Women aren't tech nerds as much as men are we know that for a fact. Women start far fewer companies than men we know that for a fact.

We also know that women score way higher grades in school which we also know for a fact doesn't matter in real life.

So maybe women (in general) are just prioritizing life differently. That doesn't mean they aren't as intelligent, smart etc.

If you can't make your argument without pushing for strawmen then you don't have one yourself.


It was said, that's the point. Claim that women aren't as good, is claiming they're stupid. Claiming they don't want it is claiming they're lazy.

It's just trying being polite about it. It's still an irrational bias, no matter how you dress it up.


What's irrational is blindly assuming performance and interests must be equal across the sexes, in defiance of all evidence or reason. Every factor we're able to objectively measure - height, weight, life expectancy, test scores - shows significant differences (in terms of distribution and averages) between men and women. It's absurd to assume that somehow we're magically equally suitable (again, on a large, statistical scale) for all jobs.


Women make up 75% of pediatricians. If I say that this is because men aren't as good at pediatrics, am I saying that men are stupid?


No, you're stupid because you're using an example that's a biological function primarily to do with women.


Then consider a different intellectual profession dominated by women. 78% of publishers in the U.S. are women.[1] If I say that this is due to an innate differences rather than sexism against men in the publishing industry, am I saying that men are bad readers and stupid?

[1] http://blog.leeandlow.com/2016/01/26/where-is-the-diversity-...

Also, can you clarify what you mean when you state that pediatrics is "an example that's a biological function primarily to do with women." Are you stating that women are innately (in other words, due to their gender) better suited to administering healthcare to minors as compared to men?


Just because women are the ones who birth children doesn't mean that I brought up "an example that's a biological function primarily to do with women".

64% of practicing gynecologists are men, but only women have vaginas.

You don't have to give birth to children to be a pediatrician or a gynecologist.


That is preposterous. What if they're just more interested in other things? Why do you assume a priori that men and women share the same interests internally? What evidence do you have which suggests this? OR are you just making an assumption because it seems "unsexist"?


No it's the same and if you believe that you are wrong.

There is a world of difference between someone having spent their entire life coding and someone only starting at university. Or someone having learned to draw from the age of 5 and someone who starts way later in life. That applies to men as to women.

Being not as good is about experience and knowledge having put in the hours. It is not about intelligence.


Well, what if that's so? Are we really so fragile that we dare not even ask that question? Could it be that we're scared of the answer? There are plenty of posts in this thread expressing stronger and more negative generalisations about men, how is it that we're not so scared of those?

The only way to reach truth is to be willing to look for it.


It's not being afraid of asking a question, it's not a question.

You're just "ask"-ing if women are as "not good/stupid", or that perhaps they "aren't interested/are lazy".

It's just a gender stereotype dressed up as a question. It's an insult dressed in an insinuation.


> Because gender discrimination is rife

Please stop making these unqualified statements on very touchy subjects


Let's qualify it by posting a link which demonstrates gender bias when people read the same resume with a different name.

http://gender.stanford.edu/news/2014/why-does-john-get-stem-...

This is hardly the only study. There are many more.

My favorite was the law students from second tier schools where males who signaled coming from middle class backgrounds had a huge statistically disadvantage from males signalling wealth.

The kicker? Wealth killed opportunities for women.

https://hbr.org/2016/12/research-how-subtle-class-cues-can-b...

Bias and prejudice are real and evaluating people is hard. To make things worse, your brain likes to save energy by substitution rigorous evaluation with heuristic evaluation and then convince itself it did the rigorous work.

The problem isn't gender discrimination is rife, it's that thousands of forms of discrimination is rife because heuristic-based discrimination is what we excel at, not rigorous evaluation.

I hope that didn't make it more touchy.


> The kicker? Wealth killed opportunities for women.

Yeah because lower class women do much better compared to lower class men. The study is flawed. It used male hobbies for both males and females. Rich females don't generally sail. I think their stereotypical activity would be humanitarian efforts.

And if it wasn't flawed, what conclusions do you draw from the study? Lower class women did 5 times better than lower class men. The lower class is many times larger than the upper class, so only a tiny percent of men enjoy the the upper class privilege while most men are doing terribly.

Looking at the big picture by aggregating the lower and upper class, women do better than men.

> http://gender.stanford.edu/news/2014/why-does-john-get-stem-....

I'll give this some legitimacy but it's one study and not completely convincing. It can't be generalized outside of science research positions.

One bias that I'm concerned about is that most gendered social experiments are hoping to find bias against females. It's a big echo chamber as the manifesto guy would say.


Exactly. What most people forget that while men are in the top of society they are also in the bottom.


I think that there is a decent case that upper class men do enjoy gender based privileges. But then people use that as evidence that all males are privileged and it's just not true. I mean it would be great if there was a chance that I could become a CEO or an exec, but 99.99% of people won't so it doesn't matter to most males if all execs and CEOs are male.

On the disparate power dynamic, I doubt the males with power care about the wellbeing of the other 99.99% of males. They will look out for the interests of super high class males which may not overlap with the interests of lower class males.

I think that non high class females benefit much more than non high class males from the power of super high class males. The super high class males will spend time around females and make transfer payments in the services industry. Sugar babes, prostitutes, strippers, webcaming, regular waitresses, etc. They are more likely to enjoy the wealth of high power males and have a much easier time forming a relationship (romantic or platonic) with a super high class male.


Of course they do mostly for historical reasons which are changing and partly because of industry choices.

Most structural issues are gone today and those that are left benefit women as much as men. In Norway where they have quotas all that happened is that now there is just also an old ladies network with the same women sitting on many of the boards.


> Yeah because lower class women do much better compared to lower class men. The study is flawed.

Are you saying the study is flawed because women got more hires in this context and that doesn't reflect the larger aggregate trends? You realize this study doesn't reflect society as a whole, right? It reflects the resume screening habits of a sample of people from a cross section of law firms.

Rather than dismissing a study because it doesn't yield results that fit your worldview, how about you try understanding the context is was done in and reflecting on the culture where it happened? Don't give it a fleeting thought. Really consider the many possible stories it could be telling you, but don't settle on a favorite. Hold the many possible stories in your head instead, ask questions and try different stories.

People have all sorts of biases. I've known my share of bros who only hire pretty girls and other bros with common interests, taste and upbringing. If they were being studied, their numbers would probably yield similar results. Some of the bros I know would call in like-minded bros and then they'll call in the women for an interview to see if they're hot. If they were part of a similar study, their screening habits would definitely skew the numbers toward this trend. If it was up to me, I'd be counting how many of the pretty ones made into round two. (Let's just say they excel at recruiting and only hiring pretty girls.)

This is one small study that reflects an aggregate of biases of a sample of participants in one industry. It does not reflect the world. It doesn't reflect their industry. It doesn't reflect one bias. It is literally a snapshot in time of a sample of a cross section of society. We don't know how if those biases (there are many) were well-distributed or concentrated. Repeating the experiment may even yield very different results.

All that doesn't matter in the bigger picture, because for that slice of time & sample, we have enough evidence to suggest gross discrimination for that sample and time.

It's a reminder that the world is a complicated place and that there are all sorts of ways people discriminate against each other. What it reinforces is that superficial discrimination happens for all sorts of complex reasons, rather than simply saying everyone is guilty of one form of discrimination.

> One bias that I'm concerned about is that most gendered social experiments are hoping to find bias against females. It's a big echo chamber as the manifesto guy would say.

Let's not be obtuse about accepting or dismissing these studies. People have a tendency to either overstate or discount their results when it serves their purpose. I gave you a very small sample and merely suggested that discrimination happens in the world and that discrimination can be complex and nonlinear. Take it with a grain of salt.


If you add middle eastern sounding names the same result happens.

Yes we have biases all of us but they are certainly not by any metrics confined to only women. Try being +40 in Silicon Valley, try being black or latino male on WallStreet, try making it as a hip-hop artist as a black guy. Try being fat in the fashion industry, try being a nerd in high-school.

The world is rife with bias and prejudice against all sorts of "these are not like me" but the solution is not and have never been to force quotas through whether in board rooms or on the job market.

If you want to change things changes them at their root cause. Push your girls to start their own companies to build their own networks so that they are less depending on existing ones. Teach them not to excel at school as that doesn't really matter but to learn how to sell themselves. Teach them that if a job posting names 10 skills and they have all but two it's still a job for them.

These are the real barriers to entry not modern day companies light biases.


It's not unqualified, we know that's the cause.

It's like claiming climate change isn't real.


I realize you're very busy and can't be bothered to support your claims, but you should actually try to demonstrate some knowledge rather than countering with the equivalent of, "but I'm really really certain."


You forgot there's still a ridiculously small percentage of female coal miners


Yeah, I forgot the physicality of coal mining's just like programming and leadership.


So according to you it's ok that men takes the most dangerous jobs, the most demanding jobs because of their physicality and risk tolerance, but it's not ok that men also takes the most high paying jobs because more of them were interested in technology early on and are better at selling themselves?

Or how exactly what are you arguing?


What are you arguing?

Because some men do more dangerous jobs, totally different men should get all the high paying ones? Perhaps for each man in coal mining, oil rigs, the army or deep sea fishing, we get a plushy finance or tech job exclusively for men?

Or tech workers should be paid less than coal miners?

I don't follow you?


Please read your own postulate. Why is the mans physical abilities important?


What physicality ?!?! We're all born same and equal!


Didn't you hear? Differences in muscle tone are heteronormative. </s>


Sure, if you define diversity as having nothing to do with gender, then of course you don't need women to have diversity.

And if you define corporate responsibility as doing only what is needed to put effective people in chairs, then there is no need for diversity programs to meet corporate responsibility (at least, assuming sufficient talent).

But your entire comment misses the phenomenon of biases having affected women their entire lives, from what hobbies they were steered towards, to their experiences during education, to their interviewing process, to their working environments after having jobs. These are all part of what gender diversity programs are trying to combat.

And honestly, I'd say that this statement right here:

> These programs are most likely not responsible for qualified women getting jobs and even if they are they are also responsible for qualified men not getting the jobs so nothing is really gained.

is more of a really effective example of the actual problem, and an illustration of why gender diversity programs are needed, than an effective counterpoint against them.


Honestly, I have a hard time understanding much of these "biases having affected women their entire lives", maybe you could expand on what you mean by the points you bring up. I attempt to clarify why I have a hard time understanding it:

"from what hobbies they were steered towards"

Ok, but the thing I don't quite understand here is that it's not like men are "steered" towards tech that strongly either. At least when I was young it was not "cool" to be some geek who sat infront of the computer all day, in fact quite the opposite.

"to their experiences during education"

I'm in Europe and I have no clue how a woman can have a worse experience in the educational system over here. Women tend to perform better in school and I'd to so far as to say that things are probably the other way around. Based on anecdata more "traditional" boys/men are probably very poorly served by the current educational system and there could be much done here.

"to their interviewing process, to their working environments after having jobs"

Again, I'm rather confused here. Is this some reference to startups? This whole debacle seems to show that women, at least at the larger corporations, has some clear benefits. As anecdata I can add that I've had women tell me "getting an internship at Corp XYZ was very easy, they kept telling me they were looking to hire more women". I've heard a professor comment on hiring new faculty by saying "If we don't hire a woman we have failed", etc.


Go to a toy shop. Are there lots of things which are pink with pictures of girls on the boxes, and the boxes contain dolls, horses, cooking things, knitting, sewing and other crafts?

Are there boxes with pictures of boys on containing toy guns, cars, trucks, diggers, cranes, computers, science kits?

Is there a section for girls' toys and boys' toys?

That's your cultural steering of gender roles, right there.

Ever seen someone think a particular book isn't "appropriate" for a girl to read? Or another book isn't "something boys will be interested in"?

Did the girls grow up seeing women on TV programmes who were scientists, executives, lawyers? Or were those people almost all men? What does that tell them about the world as they watch?

Okay so you can argue television should reflect the real world, but in doing so and simultaneously acting as part of a child's education in how the world should be (which you are, whether intentionally or not), your TV programme also acts to perpetuate the status quo.

I really don't feel there are any mysteries why we see so much gender segregation in career paths.

Similarly: how many people do you know who seriously consider nursing as a viable profession for a man to pursue? What about preschool childcare? Kindergarten teacher? Who cleans your offices? Are they female? All the cleaners in my current office are female.

It is not hard to see the cultural pressure on both boys and girls to go in certain directions.



Firstly, you somehow did not even consider my whole point, which was that being a "geek"/"dork"/"nerd"/whatever is not exactly something men are encouraged to be. And based on this I questioned to which extent men are actually (in the words of the original poster) "steered" towards tech.

Sure there may be some bias in early childhood between the sexes, but honestly, I have a somewhat hard time seeing this having a serious effect on someone's career decision much later.

Firstly, this whole argument just seems like it could just as well be some urban legend. What possible proof is there that this actually has any effect? I'm not even sure how one would go about investigating this. I feel throwing around some argument which seem plausable (to some people) but in fact have basically no solid support and then treating it as if it were an established fact is, well, maybe not so good. It seems more like something the president would do. [1]

Secondly, and more importantly, there is a very significant number of both men and women who during high school will receive a fairly through introduction to the natural sciences and to me this would seem a much more significant than some trucks and dolls one played with when one were 5 years old. To provide a more precise counterargument, many boys wants to become firefighters or police officers, yet when they grow up, many abandons these career plans.

I admit I may be extremely naive, but the argument about people on TV has always struck me as somewhat odd. It seems to rest on the assumption that most people (well, at least women/girls) in fact think men and women are different, otherwise, why would it matter what gender the people involved have?

Finally regarding the last point about career paths, well, the problem with all the examples is that there are jobs with similar pay where almost all employees are men, compare say kindergarten teacher with being a construction worker. Sure, I can admit that there is some pressure here and it being (significantly) easier for a man to become a construction worker and a woman becoming a kindergarten teacher. But if there was a wage gap between these two professions it is not as clear to me.

I would also like to point out that one can discuss things in different context, if these arguments were just made in general about how (some) women feel and how things have affected them and whatnot, that is one thing. But we are not just discussing things in general, instead there are some (at least to me) very serious accusations of of discrimination, and then we have as a society enacted and allowed a large scale discrimination of men in order to offset this. And now we have a man being fired for daring to even question these accusations that have been made against him.

[1]: If there is some solid support for this view I will happily admit I am wrong.


Thats not what I said. Of course there is gender diversity in genetics alone, but it's not as important or meaningful as claimed and it's ironically the opposite of what you want it to mean i.e. it's not simply a question of bias against women.

Biases are affecting men, women, red haired, young people, old people, gays, lesbians, fat people, short people, people with too much education, people with almost none etc their whole life.

Singling out gender is exactly what's so wrong with this whole discussion.

Try and get a job in SV after you turn 45.

The actual problem if you really want to focus on something that would naturally bring more women into the industry, is that less women start companies or get into tech early on.

If you for some reason want to solve the problem of gender diversity, get more women to start a tech company.

It's really that simple.


> Sure, if you define diversity as having nothing to do with gender,

I would have sworn that this would be "Not being sexist 101", but apparently words do not mean what I think they should…


There's a real problem where people see the social context in which a document is being discussed before the document itself, and the two become inseparable in their heads. From the start the discussion was framed around lossy compressions of its content. "He says women are biologically unfit to be programmers." "He's anti-diversity." At the height of lossiness: "This manifesto is sexist and bigoted." When in fact he never says any of these things, and in some cases says the opposite.

Try asking people to link to the specific section in http://diversitymemo.com where the author supposedly said what they claim he said, and surprisingly often they're unable to do it.

At some point, lossy compression crosses over into mendacity. Shame on Gizmodo for initially reporting this as an "anti-diversity" memo. If you're a journalist, you know that is not an adequately high-resolution description of a complex body of text. But it's good for page views, so they do it. And the other publications follow suit.


Diversity programs have been shown to be ineffective at reaching their stated aims. A longitudinal study of over 700 U.S. companies found that implementing diversity training programs has little positive effect and may even decrease representation of black women. [0]

They seem to be used by companies as a "shield" when sued for discrimination. [1] The so-called “diversity defense”. It worked for WalMart.

[0]: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0003122406071004...

[1]: https://hbr.org/2016/01/diversity-policies-dont-help-women-o...


I expected any discussion of the memo to be quickly shut down, its supporters classed as filthy misogynists. It was surprising to see over 1,000 comments and upvotes. I'm glad that it's becoming OK to discuss these topics again.


A few hours later, it's been completely removed from the main HN page (even a few pages in), despite 1600+ votes.

It's a shame that the administrators of this site feel the need to shut down discussion on important issues like this.

The story is clearly important and less than 24 hours old, and already it's been forcibly removed from the front page in favor of a bunch of 15-vote ephemeral Javascript trivia posts.

Pro tip: use https://news.ycombinator.com/best


I'm a veteran whose hiring through 2/4 jobs in the last 10 years has been through a distinct veteran recruiting pipeline. In the other two, my veteran status was likely a factor as well.

As such, I've personally benefited numerous times from diversity hiring programs.

If someone at any of my previous employers had written an internal memo criticizing the respective company's diversity program (ie the funnel through which I was hired), I can't imagine calling for their job, even if the way in which they stated that opinion was offensive to me.

I say this with the understanding that there's an obvious difference between choosing to join the military and being born as a woman or person of color.


"A perfect recipe for people to argue past each other about it."

Well put. Regardless of what side you take, I'm sure everybody understands that this is a controversial, emotionally-charged topic that must be approached with extreme care. This fellow did not do so, and created a firestorm in his wake. That alone seems like sufficient reason to fire him.

It's sort of the verbal equivalent to lighting a match to illuminate a darkened oil rig. Maybe you just wanted to illuminate things, but there are better ways to do it.


> It's worth remembering that one of his conclusions was to end or replace gender-based diversity programs at Google. Given that, it's easy to understand why people would be upset. If gender-based diversity programs are responsible for qualified women getting jobs that they otherwise wouldn't have gotten due to bias, then the lack of that program means those women wouldn't have gotten those jobs.

Wouldn't the same be true about any non-optimal hiring practices and procedures though?

Google is pretty famous for constantly evaluating and tuning their hiring processes, because presumably - they sometimes fail to hire qualified people, and sometimes hire unqualified people. They want to tune their process so they are as close to 0 as humanly possible for each of those cases.

Maybe the guy is a sexist and racist asshole, I don't know him - but if I give him the benefit of the doubt and read him charitably, I take it to mean he's saying gender-based diversity programs might produce worse ratios of qualified/unqualified hires, and unqualified/qualified passes than some of his other proposals. In other words, tune the hiring process, as it relates specifically to diversity hires, to improve the ratio of qualified/unqualified workers.

I have no idea if that idea is crazy or sensible, but it doesn't strike me as being obviously one way or the other. I'm sure with all the attention this is getting somebody, somewhere, who may be experts in these things could offer their take on it.


The elephant in the room is that it's mathematically impossible to optimize for quality of hires and diversity simultaneously. You have to pick one or the other or some compromise between the two. Start with some selection of people chosen optimally for job performance; any deviation from that for any reason will necessary give sub-opitimal performance.


Of course you can optimize for quality and diversity simultaneously. Let's take an extreme example and say that your hiring process only accepts purple people, and then judges them on merit. If you remove the requirement for purple people and keep the rest, your diversity and quality will both improve.

Here's the problem: "Start with some selection of people chosen optimally for job performance...." That's the hiring equivalent of "assume a spherical cow." Sure, if your existing process optimally chooses people for job performance, then any move toward diversity will reduce quality. Likewise, if you have a spherical, frictionless cow, then its speed after descending a slope with a height of 100 meters will be 44.3m/s. Both statements are correct and equally applicable to the real world.


Yea, I thought about that when I was writing my comment, but I wanted a pithy statement, so I omitted the trivial case. How about this: if prioritizing diversity actually changes any hiring decisions made, then it's suboptimal on quality. And if prioritizing diversity doesn't change any hiring decisions, then there's no point to it.

With regards to your second point, this kind of analysis does not require that the employees selected are in fact optimal. It only requires that they're the company's best guess given the inferences from the limited evidence available. Any move away from picking the best guesses will yield choices that are not the best guesses.


Being the best guess given the evidence available implies that the process has no racial or gender bias whatsoever. Which is unlikely. If it does have such bias, then countering that bias will improve the outcome.

To get back to the example of purple people, you wouldn't see a company today which only accepts purple people. However, it's highly likely that people involved in hiring decisions have opinions of purple people, possibly subconsciously, which influences their evaluation of purple and non-purple candidates. If this skews their evaluation toward purple candidates, then pushing things back toward non-purple candidates will give you better results.


This sounds suspiciously like a motte and bailey argument. The motte is that hiring processes have biases so we need to introduce artificial biases to make the process fair. That's quite reasonable (if it's actually true). But what's actually going on in practice is people are unhappy with the gender distribution of the outcome of the hiring process, so they're trying to tweak the process to get equality of outcome. To do so, they're necessarily sacrificing equality of opportunity and simultaneously making bad business decisions by not hiring their estimation of the best according to their interview process.

You're right, hiring in tech has gender bias, but right now that bias leans in women's favor at every step. Other commenters have posted research on this point, but I'll add my anonymous, unverifiable anecdotes to the pile. When I was on hiring committees at my old company, I watched us hire women who performed less well on our technical interviews than men we rejected, for the explicit reason of hiring more women. But I'm savvier than Damore, so I knew when to keep my opinions to myself about it.

And still there's fewer women in tech. There has to be other explanations.


How do you know the process is biased towards women?


As I mentioned earlier, for the company I was part of, that was an explicit goal, and then I watched them hire a less talented woman over a more talented man a couple times. My impression is that this is exactly what diversity initiatives are designed to do.


There are lots of other places in the process which might have bias the other way that you don't see. (And to be fair, they might not, or they might add yet more bias towards women. The point is just that it's really, really hard to evaluate bias from within, or even from without.)


The big problem I had with his "memo" is that, for a text that is about a hot and controversial topic, it lacks (more like doesn't contain any) references to backup his points. A lot of factoids and nothing to back them up.



Thank you for the link. I only read the poorly formatted version and was disappointed because of this. Now it seems even worse how the whole situation was handled. For instance https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/vbv54d/google-on-...

> And like many of you, I found that it advanced incorrect assumptions about gender. I'm not going to link to it here as it's not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages.

> Part of building an open, inclusive environment means fostering a culture in which those with alternative views, including different political views, feel safe sharing their opinions. But that discourse needs to work alongside the principles of equal employment found in our Code of Conduct, policies, and anti-discrimination laws.

Yay we believe in "a culture in which those with alternative views [...] feel safe sharing their opinions" (except when they diverge from our view). We want them to feel safe sharing them and we show this through firing people who ask for an open discussion. Bravo google. And linking to the manifesto or at least quoting an example of what is wrong is bad, because ....?

(Yes a shitstorm is brewing and there now is a hot headed "discussion", but the main problem is that nobody actually references or talks about the actual manifesto. People talk _about it_, but quotes are sparse and the critics never point out any (logical) fallacies. It's a much to emotional "debate".)

Anyway thanks to the full text I now actually could revise my opinion on the whole matter (I actually have yet to follow all the references/sources), but am disgusted at googles reaction to fire someone because their opinion created a toxic reaction. If such a reaction spawns, maybe there is room for an open discussion and maybe we can find a solution everybody is happy with. Killing off unwelcome voices doesn't sound like a welcoming environment to me and unethically at best.

Edit: Let me close with a quote from the manifesto in relation to the response from the VP of Diversity

> My larger point is that we have an intolerance for ideas and evidence that don’t fit a certain ideology.

He now seems kind of right at least in that regard.


Thank you. Its comments like yours that make me wish we had a FAQ/info box per 1000+ comments threads so that we can read first hand and get a personal interpretation first before digging through the comments, including the commentary in the article.


He's a Harvard trained Systems Biologist (3 years into a PHD based on LinkedIn). If his educational qualifications aren't enough for an unofficial rant, all of the graphs and hyperlinks he used as external references were edited out by journalists before it was mass distributed.


First, the links were redacted - at least from the version published around here.

Secondly, you really believe that even if had all the references in the world that it would make a difference?

This topic is way past "references". People believe what they want to believe. In the end, reality wins.


It's hard to assume good faith in your opinion when the article that published his memo explicitly stated that they had removed the references from it.


> If gender-based diversity programs are responsible for qualified women getting jobs that they otherwise wouldn't have gotten due to bias

But is the bias substantiated so that diversity hiring tracks it? Do the men who lose out to diversity candidates, the same that are benefiting from bias (as individuals, not "men, as a group")?

Isn't this like saying "Jailing innocent men is a fair price to ensure the guilty don't get away"


Yes, that's what "systematic bias" means. In actual observational studies, the men who are excluded from positions by gender quotas are less competent than the women who replace them: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/businessreview/2017/03/13/gender-quot...

This is why there is such intense reactions against correcting for bias: men with imposter syndrome or who are actually incompetent are afraid that they wouldn't be able to compete if the system wasn't so heavily skewed in their favor.


Which statement are you answering "yes" to? I asked if the quotas "track" bias - in the sense that bias is actively measured, and quotas adjusted accordingly.

I haven't read the study in your link, and might not even be qualified to interpret it, but two things stand out to me:

1) The study appears to focus on a single "event" or "snapshot" - not an ongoing, corrected process:

> Our research asks what happened when the central party organisation of the Social Democratic party imposed the quota on 285 local (municipal) political parties from the 1994 election and forward.

As such, it might be that the "mediocre reducing" nature of the results only apply to one-off applications of gender quotas where there previously were none. In fact, if one of the concerns is "cronyism" (or "insider bias"), then any quota requiring employment of outsiders might just be as effective at ousting the mediocre.

This has nothing really to do with my question, of whether such policies actually "track" bias, because it doesn't seem this example does.

2) They use a problematic/controversial definition of "merit":

> A competent politician, we argue, is a person who makes more than the median amongst politicians with similar characteristics.

They directly equate personal income with competence/mediocrity, which invites all kinds of questions...

Also, politics is a little different - there is a sense that politicians "represent" their populace, so the race/sex of politicians should also be more representative. Plus, politics is more "restricted" in the sense that only a certain population (size) of politicians need serve a certain national population (size) - but the restrictions (market size) in the corporate world might not be so distinct; There is plenty room for more qualified software developers.


He only thought/suggested that, though. He's being punished for his thoughts.


Once you say it out loud, it's not being punished for thoughts anymore. Speaking is an action.

As this thread shows, if he'd just kept his whiny assumptions about women's innate incompetence as engineers to himself he would have been able to remain happily employed in a cushy job.


FWIW... as someone who (I think, still mulling) is supportive of him being fired due to the code-of-conduct and contributing-to-an-unsafe-work-environment arguments, I'm pretty sure I'd be against firing him if he had posted these thoughts outside of his employment situation. It's even more interesting to think about if he had posted this outside of google and anonymously, and then someone had doxxed him. Then I'd probably be pissed and would be arguing on behalf of him - not his views, but that he shouldn't have been treated that way.


Can't speak for him, but I imagine his thought process was:

This is an internal matter, and the intended audience is Google employees, so to prevent attracting attention from the wrong audience and maximize attention from Googlers, I'll post it in the internal board...

It doesn't help that Google apparently encouraged employees expressing their thoughts.


Yeah honestly that part strikes me as being a bit weird. I've also never worked for a very huge company, but when you've got companies that are so large that they want to basically start embedding your entire lifestyle into it (free food, culture, etc) then it seems like a recipe for this kind of conflict of interest. There it starts to blur the line between "You shouldn't express these thoughts at work" with "You shouldn't have these thoughts in the first place."


This feels like the blue and black (white and gold) dress. It boggles my mind that people don't see the fundamental and toxic misogyny in this 'manifesto'. Please have a woman you care about in your life, preferably one in tech, read this and then ask their opinion of the piece.

The "treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group" sentiment of the author is fine except that we have hundreds of years of doing just this in order to oppress and disenfranchise groups of people. Diversity programs are not about lowering the bar, they are about outreach and working against institutionalized racism and sexism which has created the distribution of wealth and education and work culture that we have today. Given the massive disparity we see in tech it's ridiculous that this individual felt the need to lambast the relatively minimal amount of work being done to foster a more diverse and inclusive culture across the industry.

If one of the things you have to deal with as a woman in tech is seeing 10 page pseudo-intellectual manifestos about your inherent inferiority at performing in technical and leadership roles published at one of the premier tech companies in the world, and then see that piece supported on the most popular tech social sites then it's no wonder we have the gender gap we see today.

When somebody's views are being attacked for being misogynistic and alienating to their female colleagues, it is not suppression of free speech and diverse political opinion it is common decency. Nobody is infringing on your free speech but they will respond. All of these cries of 'authoritarian left-wing thought-police' makes me think We need a manifesto on White Male Persecution Complex Culture in Tech.

[disclaimer: I work at Google, my words are my own and not my employers]


> Diversity programs are not about lowering the bar

As an Asian male who once upon a time had to apply to colleges, I'd like to see some evidence for that assertion.

To be clear, I (and hopefully many other people commenting here) have no problem with outreach, anti-harrassment, and other such workplace training initiatives. It's unfortunate that we can't all achieve a baseline level of civility that abstracts away a person's biological character.

But I personally find it inflammatory to equate the concept of diversity with differences in sex and race in the first place. This tends disturbingly towards institutionalized stereotyping (e.g. "all Asians are nerdy and softspoken, so we're going to lump them into the same cohort and exert an implicit negative bias against them"). It's also particularly vacuous in that our notion of 'diversity' is thereby premised chiefly on superficial appearances - 'you look different, therefore you must be the kind of different we need'.

One would think the more equitable philosophy would be to strive towards a world in which we stop making exactly those kinds of distinctions and instead judge people on the content of their character and the value they can create.

I find it highly reductionist to conflate people challenging biased hiring practices with people challenging diversity more generally. There are likely some in the tech world who are genuinely bigoted and misogynist. I would hope, however, that a larger share are simply perplexed that hiring practices in engineering would be predicated on anything other than an assessment of raw merit.

My final point is this: as long as we continue to perpetuate diversity practices that emphasize sex and race in any way, some classes of people are going to be harmed. Sometimes that's more obvious to the Asian male who grew up in a tough part of NYC under difficult circumstances than it is to the affluent Black female who grew up in a world willing to bias opportunities unfairly in her favor (when some other less fortunate Black female really needed the leg up).


I appreciate where you are coming from. And I agree we should, "strive towards a world in which we stop making exactly those kinds of distinctions and instead judge people on the content of their character and the value they can create." And I honestly believe that diversity and outreach programs are part of that process.

The economic and social structure of the United States is the result of historical processes that were driven by racism and sexism; disparities in wealth and power between these groups continue to exist today due to that legacy.

To take one example, "If average black family wealth continues to grow at the same pace it has over the past three decades, it would take black families 228 years to amass the same amount of wealth white families have today." [0]

While it is a great sentiment that everyone should be treated purely as individuals and it is something to strive for, it completely ignores the economic reality of our country and is an ahistorical approach to public policy or the construction of a hiring pipeline.

We can argue about to what role public companies can or should play to reduce these historical inequities. I think that outreach and education at all levels to increase the number of candidates from underrepresented groups in the tech hiring pipeline is a great step and that reducing these inequities, beyond being ethical, will create a stronger workforce. Others might disagree and have good reasons to disagree. That is a conversation worth having, but it needs to happen in the historical context in which we find ourselves.

Writing a manifesto that claims that the disparity in tech is the result of biological differences that lead women to be inferior at performing in tech and leadership capacities is not the way to start this conversation. In fact this is the exact kind of sentiment that you call out by saying, "I personally find it inflammatory to equate the concept of diversity with differences in sex and race in the first place."

[0] http://www.ips-dc.org/report-ever-growing-gap/


There are a lot of holes in the arguments you're laying out, but I'll comment on just a few:

* Google is a profit-motivated entity. They have to act in the interest of their shareholders. Correcting for historical imbalances - to the extent that it negatively perverts hiring standards - doesn't factor into the calculus of a responsible corporation.

* Jews were systematically exterminated in a historical event that was even more recent than slavery. Countless more were left destitute. Why are they any less deserving of positive bias?

* There are millions of White people across the Midwest who are dirt poor because manufacturing is no longer a meaningful economic sector in this country. What about them?

And more generally, believing that there's a contemporary responsibility to correct for historical imbalances leads you down a fantastically absurd rabbit hole. We should instead be addressing the present socioeconomic condition (which will indirectly benefit many of the historically disenfranchised). And that is the job of government. Not corporations.


* Google clearly doesn't believe or intend for its diversity programs to negatively pervert its hiring standards. And while correcting historical imbalance isn't inherently profitable, building a more diverse workforce is potentially profitable in the long term as it provides broader perspective and empathy, a valuable thing for a company with a diverse user-base. The positive PR doesn't hurt either.

* This isn't a competition. It seems that the Jewish people have collectively been more resilient to persecution and therefore need no assistance, but so what? Good for them, but it doesn't diminish the fact that other minority groups still wear old wounds that hurt them today. Are you seriously suggesting that we shouldn't help disadvantaged black Americans simply because disadvantaged Jewish Americans didn't need it?

* Millions of white people across the Midwest are in bad shape, you're right about that. I support programs and practices that will help them out. I also support programs and practices that support other disadvantaged race and gender groups. So I don't know what to make of the question "what about them?". I'd have to hand the question back to you: what about them?

* The government is definitely necessary to address much of this, but it's ridiculous to ignore the role of corporations as the backbone of our capitalist society. The private sector is responsible for the majority of economic activity and employment in many countries; they exist at the heart of the problem. Not to mention that some corporate diversity initiatives are actually attempts to comply with government policy. The wider context to this memo is Google's gender pay gap lawsuit filed by the US Department of Labor.


> Are you seriously suggesting that we shouldn't help disadvantaged black Americans simply because disadvantaged Jewish Americans didn't need it?

Perhaps he's suggesting that black, white, Jewish, etc aren't the characteristics that we should be using to classify people as needing help. You'd probably have a lot less pushback if you created a biased hiring process that gave favoritism to people who had attended lower-income high schools or people who are the first generation in their families to earn a college degree. That hiring process would, overwhelmingly, benefit minorities since, as many are pointing out, they've been historically disadvantaged and systemic roadblocks like poor schools contribute to the difficulties we have with social mobility. It's when you start using skin color or ethnic background as a discriminant that it starts to get uncomfortable for many people. I honestly find it kind of bizarre to say that I have more in common with my Russian coworkers, who grew up under communism and are also classified as white, than I do with the minorities who came to my birthday parties growing up.

Having grown up poor and now being fairly comfortable, it's easy for me to see many of the disadvantages poor people face. I attended a public middle school that was less than 10% white. Despite being part of a single-parent family just barely above the poverty line, I had a mother with a PhD who took an interest in my education. Many of my classmates had parents that simply didn't care. And I was lucky enough to test into a prep school and avoid the public high school. At that school, I saw the other side. Most of my classmates, both white and the few non-white, were rich and most had after-school tutors from the local university that would help them complete their homework. My mother worked long hours and I was largely on my own to tackle the very difficult workload (4-5 hours of homework each night). Of the few that I've stayed in touch with, I've seen former white classmates from middle school struggle. And I've seen the few minority classmates from my high school breeze through their schooling and find whatever jobs they've wanted. Their skin color didn't seem to be much of an impediment when they had successful parents standing behind them.

So my opinion is going to be biased by my experience, but I don't see skin color being the biggest factor when compared to socio-economic situation and parental education level. It's not really controversial to say there's a huge correlation between race/ethnicity and being disadvantaged in those two areas, but for some reason it's controversial to say that we should use areas like those instead of race/ethnicity for these kinds of diversity programs.


You make a good point that socioeconomic factors are a big factor in all this, but I disagree that race is merely a symptom and not its own problem. There are hiring biases that are almost completely based on race, as demonstrated by one study on employee response to resume names:

> In response to help-wanted ads in Chicago and Boston newspapers, they sent resumes with either African-American- or white-sounding names and then measured the number of callbacks each resume received for interviews. Thus, they experimentally manipulated perception of race via the name on the resume. Half of the applicants were assigned African-American names that are "remarkably common" in the black population, the other half white sounding names, such as Emily Walsh or Greg Baker.

> The results indicate large racial differences in callback rates to a phone line with a voice mailbox attached and a message recorded by someone of the appropriate race and gender. Job applicants with white names needed to send about 10 resumes to get one callback; those with African-American names needed to send around 15 resumes to get one callback.

http://www.nber.org/digest/sep03/w9873.html

This isn't just a poverty or education problem. This study suggests that even a well-educated, affluent black American would face discrimination simply because of his/her ethnic name.


> And more generally, believing that there's a contemporary responsibility to correct for historical imbalances leads you down a fantastically absurd rabbit hole.

It amounts to collective guilt, which is generally considered to be a violation of human rights.


Its not just collective guilt its collective punishment.


Your comment is well-written, I appreciate it.

Several states in the Midwest (Indiana, for example) are actually undergoing a manufacturing boom. Google may have just shot itself in the foot here by making it clear that Midwestern political views are not welcome. I would wager that a sizable chunk of Google's technical workforce hail from the Midwest.


> Midwestern political views

Is this sarcasm or are you serious? Please don't normalize this memo as if it's rational American political thought.

Fwiw I grew up in and went to school in Indiana and it makes this google memo no less awful -.-


Midwestern folks respect competence without regard to race or sex. Google has clearly indicated that they think otherwise.


Nice lumping everyone from a huge swath of a region into one group. I'm from the Midwest, currently living in the Midwest, do not hold anything close to these stupid views.


After reading this and some other comment sections and blogs I still haven seen single of his "stupid views" refuted in concise and logical manner, without relying on assumptions that only sexism and biases in hiring are cause of gab in distribution of sexes in tech.

Based on my personal experience during my education I think his assumptions are quite accurate. Men are more inclined towards tech and science while women are more inclined towards education and social studies. But this is generalization. You also have women who excel in math and men who excel in education. Its just that there are less of them.

Imo James was very careful with his words and stated multiple times that generalizing is harmful. He even included graphical representations of that: https://video-images.vice.com/_uncategorized/1502146696203-S...


Good luck trying to explain.

Fact of the matter is: there's a small portion of women represented in computer science than the average. Anyone whom tries to "guess" why, either based upon fact or unproven postulate, is blackballed and/or fired.

As per "diversity hire" or many other mealy-mouth ways of saying it, comes back to political correctness and affirmative action.

Affirmative action means, for a decision right now, to use attributes you cannot change (sex, skin color, race, age, height) as an equal or primary stat in deciding policy - whether to give you money, whether to hire you, whether to rent to you. It also is an (sex/rac/age)-ism. That's because of X events in the past, and collective guilt or something tries to overcompensate.

The insulting part of this, is that if you, well, aren't a white male, then you might have been hired because of unchangeable attributes, and not because of your skill. Doubly so if you work in a position that entails "diversity" in its title. In those cases, the job was created for your attributes, and not intelligence.

The other half, is that you're not allowed to talk about it. Full stop. End of story. Do not mention the elephant. There is no elephant. Anyone who mentions the unmentionable is summarily disposed.

Tl;Dr. We need a hiring test equivalent to a Turing test. No race, no sex, no body-type, no nothing other than "Can you type the language we're using, and can you answer questions pertaining to the job at hand?"


> "Can you type the language we're using, and can you answer questions pertaining to the job at hand?"

Genuine question: are all of your co-workers who are best to work with, those that provide most value to yourself and the company, those with the greatest technical proficiency for the job in hand?

I'd suggest that for most jobs the ability to work well with other people in a team to approach the problem is as, if not more important, than the technical proficiencies of the individuals involved. The inter-personal stuff is really, really important.


You're right, in that does seem to "make sense" on a first pass. Who doesn't want to work with others that you get along with?

The darker picture behind that. So we should choose for interpersonal communication and "getting along", no? Then I should hire fellow white males, since they share my culture. And I'll also choose from a similar age group, since I know we'll connect quick due to shared culture. And we can make wiseass cracks about women, share "conquests", make nasty jokes. (Hmm, just described Uber.)

Or I can hire from people whom are good at what they do, get down to work and finish a job, and go home where you make the culture you want there, and not a forced "culture" at work. I don't go to work for culture, or friends, or any social reason. I go to work because I get paid to do a job and I do it.

If working with/for someone is uncomfortable, I bite my tongue, grin and bear it. If it's past social norms and ventures into illegality, either talk with HR about harassing workplace (provide proof), or find somewhere else to work.


You are up against irrational emotion driven reactions and that in turn means anything that does not agree with a person in that state is automatically hateful, stupid, or worse.

My view is that is many parts of the fields I am in is that we are only beginning to see the benefits of women entering engineering and similar fields in significant numbers over a decade or more ago. There simply are not enough woman who came up through that process twenty plus years ago to have the experience many companies assign to a role; this artificial inflation of requirements also pushes out a lot of men as well.

So diversity for the sake of diversity is wrong. not acknowledging we have a shortage of qualified candidates is wrong as well but try to remember this is because it took so long for society to accept women in these roles that it may not have been a dream of many until the last decade or two.

anecdotal, I remember my own sister expressing an interest in science only after Sally Ride (hence the 80s). Seeing a woman in space was a big deal. Before the age of the internet young women only had TV for examples to aspire to and TV still had/has an influence of young people.


Yet, making it clear that this form of behaviour is acceptable would not be shooting itself in the foot, when it comes to hiring and retaining women?

"Come work for us - where Senior SREs will publicly question whether or not you are capable of doing your job, based on your gender!" does not sound like a great recruiting pitch. Never mind that it is also an incredibly shitty thing to do.


>where Senior SREs will publicly question whether or not you are capable of doing your job, based on your gender!

"We put a policy in place that dictates that hiring should be on the basis of something other than capability"

"Oh my god why are employees questioning whether hires were made based on capability or something else?"

Seems pretty reasonable. It is far from the first time this point has been made: https://www.nationalaffairs.com/storage/app/uploads/public/5...


>"Come work for us - where Senior SREs will publicly question whether or not you are capable of doing your job, based on your gender!"

"Senior SREs will privately doubt you are capable of doing your job, based on your gender/racial hiring preference" sounds so much better?


> They have to act in the interest of their shareholders.

Isn't it more that "they choose to act [...]" because it makes life easier rather than "they have to act [...]"?

e.g. there's no legal or ethical strictures upon them to act in their shareholders interest, only financial.


You speak of "the calculus of a responsible corporation" and "the job of government" as if unrelated phenomena. The latter authors the corporate law that sets the former. And it would take an extreme case indeed for a company's directors or employees to violate a fiduciary duty by implementing a diversity hiring initiative. Even if there were a plausible argument that a given initiative "cost" the company relative to other hiring practices, there will almost always be plausible arguments why incurring the "cost" is in the company's best long-term interests, all things considered, in which case courts will defer to business judgment.


You comment makes me wonder: At what point has the pursuit of diversity been "enough?" What's the actual end game, so that we know we've achieved it? Is it to have an perfectly statistically balanced ethnic representation in a company's workforce based on global population densities?

Will Google know that they've "succeeded" at diversity when 50-odd percent of programmers are women, and the bulk of their workforce are Asian and Indian, since they make up the majority of people on the earth? Is Google's goal to have the best programmers they can find, but which fit within the global demographics, because they conclude that there is absolutely no correlation between gender, race, culture, or creed in the aptitude for, or desire to pursue, any given human endeavor?

Or, perhaps, to use your example, is the goal to actually increase the preference for non-white, non-males in order to "catch up" other genders and ethnicities until their population groups exhibit the same level of wealth?

There are a lot of tangents to all of this, but I'm trying to stick to the main point here: at what point will we know that American corporations have achieved "enough" diversity, and that outreach programs and hiring preferences are no longer necessary? What's the idealized situation look like? (Honest question.) What's the measure of success?

Also, are companies in other parts of the world trying to achieve the same thing? Are companies, say, in India and China, hiring white and black people like crazy because they also recognize the extreme and urgent need to diversify their workforces? The answer to that question might help clarify the first.


I'm not sure how generational wealth inequality is relevant to gender diversity? Surely rich and poor families in the US are having boys and girls at roughly the same rates? Or have I missed something here?


> as long as we continue to perpetuate diversity practices that emphasize sex and race in any way, some classes of people are going to be harmed

The whole reason diversity practices exist is because "some classes of people" are already being harmed. Without "diversity practices", we already have practices that emphasize and discriminate sex and race, except they happen to be the status quo.

Attacking diversity for harming "some classes of people" misses the point, because any change to the status quo is necessarily going to harm certain classes and benefit other classes.


Class =/= race|gender. Could be argued that race|gender equality distracts from class divisions that are far more ingrained.


I think class divisions are intertwined with race and gender divisions. You can't ignore the effect of being hired at, say, Google will have on your class.


Exactly !

But 'intertwined' means correlation, not causation. Being a woman is correlated with not doing software dev. in a tech company. It does not mean that tech discriminate against women, because correlation ≠ causation.


Sure, I'll accept the basic logic that the lack of women in tech does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that tech discriminates against women.

But you're also ignoring evidence that suggests tech actually does discriminate against women. Just to scratch the surface, we've just seen some high profile cases like the scandal at Uber and Google's court case on its wage gap.


As someone working in tech, I find it somewhat offensive that Uber had some real twats working for it, and now I am categorized together with Travis as "tech discriminating against women".


The problem is that reverse discrimination does justify the discrimination they [cl]aim to fight. If HR considers the results of my technical interviews to be biased for the benefit of people who look like me and compensate accordingly, I then have to discriminate as I'm supposed to in order to achieve overall fairness of the recruitment process. How is that supposed to reduce biases ?

Reverse discrimination is the easy way, but it is actually counterproductive in term of reducing biases. As case of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campbell%27s_law imo, of optimizing the easy metric of enrollment ratio instead of the hard goal of fairness.


You aren't suggesting that all men are embroiled in Uber-like scandals? Danielle Brown might have a word with you.


> The whole reason diversity practices exist is because "some classes of people" are already being harmed. Without "diversity practices", we already have practices that emphasize and discriminate sex and race, except they happen to be the status quo.

Citation needed and it needs to be relevant in a liberal tech company environment.


> The whole reason diversity practices exist is because "some classes of people" are already being harmed. Without "diversity practices", we already have practices that emphasize and discriminate sex and race, except they happen to be the status quo.

Wrong. Everybody has an equal opportunity. Equal results are not guaranteed, nor should be guaranteed.


> Everybody has an equal opportunity

Citation needed.


How did you miss the article that was on the frontpage today?

https://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/NSF_Stemming%20the%20Tid...

This is specifically about why women leave engineering, with a number of incidental measures about the egalitarian qualifications across gender (for the studied population).

Of course, next up is arguing about the epistemology of what "everyone" means, which is how you would have started if you weren't trolling. -1


That doesn't seem to support "everybody has equal opportunity" at all.

It's pretty well established [0] that the circumstances of ones birth - race, wealth and, yes, gender are a key determining factor in your expected life outcomes. Equal opportunities are emphatically not available to all.

[0] - http://www.pewtrusts.org/~/media/legacy/uploadedfiles/pcs_as...


First, I'm aware that there is a concerted effort in industry & politics to promote "Gender Equality" measures; with the end-game quotas, legal statutes, government power over individuals, intervention, etc.

Second, any policy intervention to correct "discrimination" is itself discrimination. The alternative is freedom & liberty (which benefits everybody). There are countermeasures to correct the "bad actors" & reward the "good actors". Many people who will choose to not give a certain company business if the company is perceived to be against one's values.

> This is specifically about why women leave engineering, with a number of incidental measures about the egalitarian qualifications across gender (for the studied population).

My responses to the "Key Findings" on the report:

> Nearly half said they left because of working conditions, too much travel, lack of advancement or low salary.

I don't have a study handy, but this is not a situation unique to women. Too much travel, lack of advancement and low salaries are a symptom of corporate culture & the inverted leadership pyramid. Being on the bottom is not as good as being on the top & there's less room at the top. Having quotas does not help the people at the bottom nor does it necessarily create better cultural dynamics.

> One-in-three women left because they did not like the workplace climate, their boss or the culture.

I didn't like the workplace climates of several of my jobs. Didn't like all of my bosses or all of the cultures as well. If there is harassment toward women in a workplace, it's probably indicative of deeper issues where others are not being respected as well (in ways related to the characteristics of that person). The solution is not to put certain politically ordained "victim" characteristics on a pedestal; in fact it's an anti-solution because it discourages organizations/people to explore root causes.

> One-in-four left to spend time with family.

Understandable as this has been a more traditional pattern for women. Having a child means focusing more on family & less on the profession.

> Those who left were not different from current engineers in their interests, confidence in their abilities, or the positive outcomes they expected from performing engineering related tasks.

The map is not the territory. Models are an imperfect distillation of reality; especially models aggregating the complexity of many different lives.

While I agree that there are different outcomes in gender, culture, race, etc. The point is everybody (as in all people) has the legal ability to succeed in a profession. If you want certain people to succeed more, address the tools that they have & work to give them better tools so they can succeed. The wrong thing to do is to encourage a victim mentality & a autocratic culture that enforces a certain predetermined outcome; that is the opposite of freedom & liberty.

> It's pretty well established [0] that the circumstances of ones birth - race, wealth and, yes, gender are a key determining factor in your expected life outcomes. Equal opportunities are emphatically not available to all.

The source you provided assumes unwarranted prejudice as a reason. There are other determining factors related to the circumstances such as ability, temperament, education, culture, intelligence.

Let me clarify. Everybody has equal opportunity but not everybody is equally fit to take advantage of the opportunity. The best way to improve everybody's situation is to make the participants more fit for the job.


You got a good point. These days social class is more a determining factor for chances to move up than it has ever been. The risk with race, gender or other policies based on past evils is fighting the last war.


> Diversity programs are not about lowering the bar, they are about outreach and working against institutionalized racism and sexism which has created the distribution of wealth and education and work culture that we have today.

I guess the one challenge I would put to this is that I find it difficult to believe that East Asians or Indians have been on the receiving end of any less discrimination than, say, Hispanics in the US, but yet they are now vastly over-represented in tech compared to their population statistics at large. They are so over-represented that they are now clearly discriminated against in areas such as college admissions at top tier universities, where being Asian essentially raises the requisite SAT bar by about 50 points.

You may think there needs to be a manifesto on a "White Male Persecution Complex Culture in Tech", but I'd be interested in why you didn't also write an "Asian Male Persecution Complex Culture in Tech."

Finally, I'll add that there is plenty of evidence it's not a "persecution complex". How do you square Github's reaction to their proposed Electron conference, where all the proposals were accepted in a completely blind process, but they decided they'd rather cancel the conference when it turned out all the proposals accepted were from men? https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14480868


Asians are overrepresented because of the way immigration laws shifted in 1965, combined with rapidly changing economic conditions in India and China. 50% of Asians in the US hold a college degree, compared to 1% in Asia, so this is not representative of Asians as a whole, but the well-off, high caste, etc. Not to mention if you look at subgroups (refugee populations like the Vietnamese or Cambodians) the numbers reflect those situations.


Asians are also over-represented because Asians are over-represented in the global population. Indians and Chinese along are nearly 40% of the world's population.

Given the much, much larger pool to pick from, it's natural that they would be over-represented in tech too.


And the pool of Asians that American companies can choose from isn't anywhere near the entirety of that 40% due to visa and language restrictions. A very large number of them are within the population already living in America. Despite universities putting higher standards on entry for Asians, they still enter tech and high-skill fields at disproportionate rates.


And explain to me why some bureaucratic organization is responsible for correcting for this disproportion.

On average in the United States (I say average because someone here is bound to call me an Asian supremacist when I am just taking statistics), Asians make up the highest percentage of college applicants [1], Asians have the highest average SAT scores [2], Asians are the most likely to enter and graduate college [3], and Asians make up the highest income bracket in the US [4].

Given these trends, we should, in fact, see a larger number of Asians in tech and it should not be surprising. Google's bureaucracy should not hire less Asians because "there are more."

I would not mind if Google were 100% Black females. Just as long as it's a merit based system.

[1] https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/infocenter/admissions... [2] https://www.princeton.edu/~tje/files/webAdmission%20Preferen... [3] https://nscresearchcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/Signature12... [4] https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/... [4] summary on wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ethnic_groups_in_the_U...


There's been a lot of shade thrown on "leftists" and "marxists" in relation to this manifesto. Yet it was a senior member of Trump's team that said 2/3rds of Silicon Valley CEOs being Asian was a problem.

Note, 2/3rds of CEOs in Silicon Valley are not Asian, he was probably overreacting based on looking just at Google, Microsoft and Facebook, and they're probably under-represented at the management levels overall.


16 in 10 silicon valley executives are white, while 7 in 10 are Asian (for every 10 engineers). So Asians are actually underrepresented at the highest level.

I have no comments on the current Washington administration's personal views - if their goal is to get rid of AA and remove diversity regulations from industry then it's a goal that's fine with me.


But that's a meritocracy right? Those white execs got there fair and square. Probably Asian people just prefer not to be paid lots of money and run companies, it's a genetic thing that can't be helped.


16 in 10 is a startling overrepresentation.


Thank you for your helpful and informative comment, I appreciate it.


One difference is that Indians got their independence, while the US still occupies California...


The important context though is in how the conference was promoted in the first place, though.


I'll note that one of the rules for proposal submission that GitHub specified before proposals were accepted was that any ties in ratings would be broken in favor of a more diverse speaker panel, so it at least appears that they were conscious of attracting women and minorities to the conference.


> If one of the things you have to deal with as a woman in tech is seeing 10 page pseudo-intellectual manifestos about your inherent inferiority at performing in technical and leadership roles published at one of the premier tech companies in the world, and then see that piece supported on the most popular tech social sites then it's no wonder we have the gender gap we see today.

Could you provide citations in the manifesto that were oppressive to women?

Manifesto was pretty neutral and pretty clear that this was not at all a text about the abilities of women and how they are inferior. It was about motivations women have given their biological traits.

Google, Facebook run unconscious bias training which has no support in scientific research. At best it does not work at all.

It really was not misogyny.

The manifesto is inspired by Jordan B Peterson, and that guy is not a misogynist or a racist or whatever. He's a psychologist that complains about HR departments of the world that are filled with other psychologists and sociologists. He thinks they have to start looking at science and get to the root of the issue. Unfortunately, they use methods that have no support in science and misuse their position to push their ideology.

One good example is Iran. Where women are oppressed. Yet they choose STEM more often than not. How come our free/tolerant culture allows women to move away from STEM fields, and their oppressive culture pushes women towards STEM fields? Maybe motivations of free and oppressed women are different and free women just don't want to work in STEM? Abilities of men and women are identical (or at least the bell curves overlap significantly). Motivations depend on biology and culture. Motivations are what is differing and no unconscious bias training will fix that.

For example, I know plenty IT women that don't want to work in offices that don't have dress code. They all went working in banks. How is anyone going to fix that bias if women just like dressing well (on average) and being in a dressed up fancy environment.


Yeah I also didnt get feeling from reading the memo that is was misogynistic.

James just tried to point out that reasons for gender gab in tech might not be only sexism as current left leaning agenda dictates.

I understood memo more like complaining that employees with opinions that differ from "current left leaning agenda" are afraid to express them. And google proved him right by firing him.

This political correctness has brought us very close to Orwellian double think. Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote:

> “We strongly support the right of Googlers to express themselves, and much of what was in that memo is fair to debate, regardless of whether a vast majority of Googlers disagree with it.”

And used this as basis to fire guy who expressed his concerns.

His appeal to replace diversity of gender and race with diversity of thought is completely valid and reasonable.


The response to the memo is very frustrating to me; I suspect the original author wanted to start a conversation that involved Simpson's Paradox and got a response where people typed him as a misogynist.

This incident seems like evidence that attempting a statistics based discussion about gender programs is dangerous - if you are wrong in your interpretation & work at Google you will be fired rather than have your mistakes explained.

EDIT for clarity: not that the memo mentioned Simpson's Paradox at all, but that paradox illuminates serious risk around interpreting clear-seeming evidence. I think that those style of risks where were the original author wanted to push discussion.


I think he knew what he was doing and correctly predicted reaction. If you have been following anti-SJW (for lack of better term) authors lately you can see exactly same pattern repeating over and over. After all he signed memo with his name. He could probably distribute it anonymously if he would want to keep his job. And if you ever tried to argue those points in any "left echo chamber" you probably know that before you convince anybody your account is banned.

SJWs (feminists, PC culture, LGBT, pro-Muslim, BLM, antifa...) when faced with more or less factual data that questions one of their sacred cows (women are equal to men, there are more than two genders, minorities need to be privileged, white privilege, institutional racism and patriarchy still exists...), they overreact with outrage with character assassination and shaming of meagerness. Some call this virtue signalling.

Example of this is how trump supporters are often labeled as nazis, racists, sexists...

While this works well in "echo chambers", it doesnt work as well in court. And I suspect that this guy had law suit for being fired and defamation.

This blog mentions that he already complained to NLRB:

> Damore plans to sue Google; he had previously complained to NLRB and wants to argue that his dismissal was a revenge which would be illegal. See a Damore's defiant answer to Reuters.

http://motls.blogspot.si/2017/08/james-damore-deserves-1-mil...


If we're so concerned with the advantages of wealth and education inequality, why are we still using race (a bad proxy, given the spread and distribution around the averages - the whole point of the original document) as the determining factor instead of just asking for tax returns/education records for special programs?

And regarding gender - let's consider the example of salary negotiation. Now, if you research, you'll see that statistically women are less likely to negotiate as high a salary as men. It would make sense, given that research, to create a women-only program for teaching salary negotiation skills, right?

Except what if the bell curve around those averages was wide? Well then there's a number of men that suck at negotiation, and a number of women for whom those classes would be a waste of time. So the likely better program would be one where negotiation ability was evaluated at the start, and only candidates that needed training received it. Statistically, this program would have more women than men in it, but an exclusive program would not have been ideal.

Maybe I missed the part where he called women inferior?? The gist of his document as I saw it was that only looking at deltas between averages is a myopic approach (makes sense), and that programs need to consider that there's often a wide spread between those averages (also makes sense).

There's a huge difference between creating a safe work environment so you don't alienate otherwise interested talent, versus artificially stacking the deck to create diversity for diversity's sake. The latter approach, particularly when poorly evaluating the data (as the author points out) can cause significant damage to an organization.

Case and point - how is it that a Googler discussing "White Male Persecution Complex" and "majority privilege" is contributing to the discussion of workplace diversity dynamics, but a (now ex-) Googler internally writing about dogmatic diversity and the need for nuance should be fired?

Are any of your co-workers white? Male? How is it that your assumption that they've had a silver spoon in their mouths their whole life not insensitive and inflamitory? Are your comments here not alienating?

Either no one should be able to write on the subject and any discussion a fireable offence, or perhaps rational, respectful, and data-driven discussion should be encouraged (and so far today I've only seen one Googler having written such on workplace diversity).


> And regarding gender - let's consider the example of salary negotiation. Now, if you research, you'll see that statistically women are less likely to negotiate as high a salary as men. It would make sense, given that research, to create a women-only program for teaching salary negotiation skills, right?

No. It would make sense to implement other means of deciding fair compensation rather than through employer-employee negotiation. Because it is not fair that compensation should be based on negotiation skills.

The thing I think we have to accept is that the world is unfair. Evidence seem to be that the world is, on average, more unfair to women and minorities.


> Because it is not fair that compensation should be based on negotiation skills.

It is more fair. Employees are at a disadvantage relative to employers when they can't negotiate.


>Because it is not fair that compensation should be based on negotiation skills.

Negotiation skills are at least something anyone can learn, but nobody can learn to be of a different race or gender.


My comment about 'White Male Persecution Complex (PC)" was tongue and cheek. I should have known that would be a mistake in this conversation.

I have many white male coworkers (as you'd expect given the demographic statistics for tech) and I have nothing but the utmost respect for their ability. I don't harbor any assumption that, "that they've had a silver spoon in their mouths their whole life."

I don't think that believing that there are groups that have been more economically and socially marginalized than white males is alienating. I also don't think that it implies that I believe my white male coworkers have been given a free pass to the positions they are in today. Everyone I work with has had to pass the same bar.

As I've stated, all of the statements I've made here are my own, made on my own time, on a public site and do not represent the views of my employer. I leave my politics at home.


There are groups that have been more marginalized than "white males" on average. But that was the whole point of the original document in question.

White/black/male/female/etc is a really bad proxy for a person's history and character. Something along the lines of "don't judge me by the color of my skin but by the content of my character" rings a bell.

If you are concerned about socio-economic advantages, look at tax returns, not skin color. I know a number of white males that had extremely rough histories and disadvantages, living homeless for a few years or growing up in a cult in Utah and being abused by the leaders of the cult. I have black friends from school who were growing up in one of the richest neighborhoods in the US and attending one of the best schools in the area, going on to Stanford.

Don't dance around the disadvantages you want to correct by using race/gender as a proxy. Measure the disadvantages directly. Broken home? Poverty? Juvinile criminal record? Non-contiguous educational history? All of these are directly measurable/verifiable.

If you want to give the less advantaged individuals more of a chance to fulfill their potential I'm all for it. But measure more accurately than skin color or gender, where the spread and distribution around the averages is far too wide to be valuable, and will exclude a large group of people that have suffered disadvantages and let in a significant number of people who haven't really suffered the disadvantages their group has suffered on average.


I just want to point out: it's very interesting to read your caveat because the language is remarkably similar to the preface the author felt obligated to include (which in turn echos disclaimers often attached to modern critiques of affirmative action programs by white males). Perhaps you've even played slightly into the parent's hand helping make their point?

Regardless, I find such disclaimers cumbersome and unnecessary. I'd rather interact as adults who understand how to critically dissect each other's essays than instantly assume bigotry or privilege and infer the most insidious implications: "he is basically saying all women suck at their jobs amirite". It just feels so.. unsophisticated. (To be clear I'm not directing that at you I'm just lamenting the situation in general--oops there _I_ go.)

Do you really think the author would say anything different than you've said if you engaged directly?


So you weren't able to backup your assertion about his misogyny, but you leave your politics at home - even though you mentioned you just worked for Google? The thing is, there are a lot of people who react the way you do these days - so do you think this guy's views on gender politics are so bad that he should be prevented from engineering software? That's pretty far out, isn't it?


You're the one making assumptions. 1) That one can't find plenty of professional females that oppose mainstream gender politics is an unfounded assumption 2) That the author is a misogynist or his view are based in his hatred of women. Many people who oppose mainstream gender politics due so because they believe it is hurting women. How is it you're able to tell they're all lying about not having bad intentions?

Do you think women are so weak and inferior that any male who writes words you perceive to be against them should be fired, silenced, or not debated? I think grown-up men and women can handle the truth and don't need some "safe space" to insulate them from information.


Clearly you strongly reject the writings overall. Curious if you see any merit or truth to any of the sub sections or smaller kernels of ideas found within? Is there any version of this kind of thing you would encourage and engage with or is it just too sensitive/triggering of a subject to really be tackled in this style?

Several commenters have chalked the author up to basically being a privileged incumbent waking up to the existential crisis of watching one's privilege being slowly taken from them and trying to figure out a way to stem the tide. Do you see it as something similar and therefore it doesn't really make sense to engage or lend it any legitimacy?

It seems a lot behind the opposition to this guy is based on people's assumptions about his motivations. OP or anyone else willing to weigh in would be appreciated.


Yeah, I havent seen any concise and rational debunking of any of his points.

I did see a lot of partisanship and accusation of misogyny that I cant find in memo at all.

To me this looks like some smart guy saying that google doesnt tolerate views that are not perfectly aligned with left leaning echo chambers, and getting fired for exactly that. Looks like SJWs at google, like thy often do, forced HR to fire him.

I have read that he was chess champion, so I would call this forcing your opponent to check mate himself. I think he planned this since I am seeing this:

> Damore plans to sue Google; he had previously complained to NLRB and wants to argue that his dismissal was a revenge which would be illegal.


Holding an opposing view doesn't mean that they lack moral integrity.


Holding a view that inherently biases them against a whole gender does make them a work liability. How can you trust this person to be fair when - god forbid - they manage people and have to decide who performed better in their mixed-gender group?

If anything, by firing him Google might be saving money in future gender-based discrimination lawsuits. On that alone, the "laissez faire capitalists" should stop moaning about this.


>Holding a view that inherently biases them against a whole gender does make them a work liability.

That is your own fabrication. Please stick to what was actually said. They simply showed a lack of faith in their companies hiring practices (making sure diversity candidates were not accidentally turned away) being in line with their stated goals (hiring on merit). On principle, its no worse than employees complaining a bunch of new employees "got in easy" through an aqui-hire. If additional evidence was to be unearthed that this person is actually a raging bigot, then sure, bring out the pitchforks.

>If anything, by firing him Google might be saving money in future gender-based discrimination lawsuits. On that alone, the "laissez faire capitalists" should stop moaning about this.

Indeed, if we're operating on feelings and perception alone, then firing this individual probably makes a lot of sense from a PR standpoint.


I think he was smart and planned all of this. I am reading that he has previously complained to NLRB and plans to sue Google for firing him arguing that his dismissal was a revenge.

And by reading memo instead of its misinterpretations on feminist blogs it seems like he just pointed out that Google created environment where people who dont agree with current left leaning political correct agenda cant express their opinions safely anymore. And he got fired for exactly this: expressing opinions that are not aligned with SJW dogma.

His language was very careful, his claims were sourced. He mentioned multiple times that this controversial points are not his personal opinions but rational explanations, and he was very careful to point out that he doesnt generalize based on this data. I havent find single sentence that could be used on court as proof of misogyny. He is guilty only of opening talking points SJWs and feminists dont want to talk about and use tactic of character assassination to dismiss messenger instead of debating his message.

HR was forced to fire him by outrage that many of their vocal left leaning echo chamber activist caused. I am not convinced this was beneficial for google. He will probably won the case for compensation. And from PR perspective? Sure, regressive left, SJWs, hardcore hillary supporters... they will like this move. But conservative publications use this as perfect point to smear Google, accuse them of spreading left propaganda, accuse them of firing conservatives... I am not sure which camp is bigger and which brings more money.


> And he got fired for exactly this: expressing opinions that are not aligned with SJW dogma.

No, he got fired for making himself impossible to work with. If he disagreed with Google's and his fellow Googler's values, he could've left and go somewhere where he felt welcome. Trying to go out with a bang is just a douchebag move.

> His language was very careful, his claims were sourced

Where are the sources to his claims, pray tell? People keep repeating this as fact, but this is not a paper, and there's no list of references at the end of it.

> He is guilty only of opening talking points SJWs and feminists dont want to talk about and use tactic of character assassination to dismiss messenger instead of debating his message.

Calling people "SJWs" and "feminists" and ascribing some conspiracy to them proves the point that this was a dogwhistling exercise. You, my friend, are barking madly right now.

> I am not convinced this was beneficial for google.

I can guarantee he'll get his ass handed to him in court if he tries to sue Google for discrimination. Any corporation that size has ways to resolve these matters slowly and completely under the radar. To me his sudden dismissal is a strong signal that their legal department gave them the go ahead. They wouldn't do that if they didn't feel they have a solid case.


Gizmodo and many other websites removed charts and references. The memo in its entirety is here

https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3914586/Googles-I...


>No, he got fired for making himself impossible to work with.

The fact that a lot of people became hysterical instead of providing a simple calm response kind of proves his point - That a debate is not possible without people either slandering the author, or purposely assuming malicious intent when there was none. Are google employees so thin-skinned that someone simply questioning a company policy is cause for getting fired?

> If he disagreed with Google's and his fellow Googler's values, he could've left and go somewhere where he felt welcome.

What are you talking about? To the latter part, why should that be the only option? Who are we to tell someone what to do? What if he likes working at Google, and is merely annoyed at one small aspect and wanted to discuss it internally, or improve the situation?


> The fact that a lot of people became hysterical instead of providing a simple calm response kind of proves his point

Right. Seems like he valued his point more than his job. Well done, him!

> What if he likes working at Google, and is merely annoyed at one small aspect

Really? Calling the whole organization driven by "leftist ideals" is "a small aspect"? Give me a break. I can guarantee you wouldn't be able to tell me that with a straight face in person, but somehow expect me to take it at face value because you put it in writing.


Could you please reign in the hyperbole? The author has presented their opinion on what constitutes left or right biases, and it is patently obvious that (even in the authors opinion) the whole organization is not driven by 'leftist ideals' - a term which doesn't come up in the memo at any point BTW. The context of the memo is quite narrow - Diversity hiring, and unconscious bias as it pertains the the former. It doesn't discuss every single aspect of Google as an organization. I don't know why you think an employee couldn't be happy with Google as a company, and only disagree on specific policies.


You could be right here. I read the memo and it read like something written to gain enough outrage for him to be fired, but tight enough that he could win any lawsuit that follows.

I will be interested to see if anyone follows his example.


Given that Republicans control the Presidency, The majority in the Congress and Senate the majority of Governorships and state houses its a safe bet not only are they larger but Conservative media is going to get the biggest wins from this. Its going to motivate and reconfirm to all the deplorable that yes, the Leftist Liberal San Francisco millionaires hate them and will fire and destroy the career of conservatives who dare to challenge the Left narrative. Brendan Eich 2.0.


Maybe. I have been reading that Bannon wants to start regulating big social media platforms as utilities, to limit their censoring and promoting narrative capabilities.

https://theintercept.com/2017/07/27/steve-bannon-wants-faceb...

And I have to say that I agree with him. This platforms became global communication channel. This is not just private company website anymore. So decision to delete peoples accounts and posts cant be given in hands of some biased moderators with personal agenda.

What is going on now on twitter and facebook, is comparable to phone company disabling your line because you have been talking naughty things over the phone.


> Indeed, if we're operating on feelings and perception alone... If additional evidence was to be unearthed that this person is actually a raging bigot

I'm sorry, but trying to bring up physical make up as an explanation of why women may or may not be interested in a subject that was denied to them until very recently is ill-informed at best. It'd be like concluding that "gay people aren't interested in getting married, based on the last 200 years of history until 2015."

> Indeed, if we're operating on feelings and perception alone, then firing this individual probably makes a lot of sense from a PR standpoint.

It's not PR, it's HR and legal. Nobody is trying to hang him in a public plaza, but there's a pretty solid argument about him being a future liability.


how was a subject denied to anyone?


Are you kidding me? I'll give you a hint: go back fifteen years, and watch the ads on a single day of TV programming. Then classify who the cleaning and cooking ads are targeted to, and who the ads for high tech widgets are targeted to. Then come back and tell me there's no expected gender behavior.


"may not be interested in a subject that was denied to them until very recently"

No TV ad is from 15 years ago was denying anyone anything. They were playing to certain stereotypes, yes, but thats completely different from denying someone a job in tech.


And you believe the stereotypes were completely unrelated to the roles society assigned to the genders? And that those roles might affect the choices people might make during their lives?

It's kind of unbelievable that people who are willing to take a single study that says pre-natal testosterone determines all future behavior at the same time are happy to dismiss hundreds of other studies showing the impact of gender stereotypes.


It's still not denying anyone anything.


I kind of assumed they had to fire him based on the fact that there is a current federal gender discrimination lawsuit against Google in which Google claims to not discriminate on gender and Google claims to not be able to produce the data to back up this assertion because it would cost too much to produce.


The problem is that all these programs address large grossly defined groups, leaving many individuals lost in the cracks. There are countless repressed and underrepresented groups that are barely acknowledged let alone accounted for by these programs. Even some large groups miss out. For example you regularly see black comedians thanking Arabs for being the new class of people everyone hates, yet they are considered white in the census and garner no benefit from any programs. White privilege without any of the privilege. Why are a Yemeni and an Englishman bucketed in the same category?


> 10 page pseudo-intellectual manifestos about your inherent inferiority at performing in technical and leadership roles

Is there any way to discuss generalized differences that won't be perceived as absolute and insulting?

The memo clearly did not make any claims about all women, and the topic at hand (gender representation in roles) is a general one. If there are general differences between men and women, we could expect general differences in their representation in various roles. That doesn't mean any individual woman is inferior, or even different relative to men.

It's really confusing why so many media stories and comments race to phrase this as claiming women are worse at their job, or can't code as well. Did they read it?


>Is there any way to discuss generalized differences that won't be perceived as absolute and insulting?

Whatever it is, I don't want to hear it in an internal memo, I don't want to hear anyone's opinions in a memo unless it's about the product.

Honestly, in a workplace, if I didn't ask for your opinion on something and we're no talking about it in person, I don't care.


This is about a hiring policy at work. It's relevant to work.


Apparently, half the world read "all women are bad at writing software, and we should never hire them", when the other half saw "lots of women don't want to work for google, and we should hire only the ones who do". When the lines are so far apart, reading between them is basically a Rorschach test.

In this sense, it would have been a much better outcome for him to have ended up debating his views in front of a studio audience rather than packing his belongings into a box, because then we'd know exactly what he thinks, and google would have either a solid reason to fire him or a way of mitigating the PR damage.


>manifestos about your inherent inferiority at performing in technical and leadership roles

I never got that impression from the memo.


Hence the white and gold, (er, blue and black dress). I'd reiterate and ask you to have a conversation with a female colleague or friend who works in tech and ask for their perspective.


"The "treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group" sentiment of the author is fine except that we have hundreds of years of doing just this in order to oppress and disenfranchise groups of people."

Just the opposite as far as I can tell. Every great evil in history came from grouping people and punishing based on collective guilt (whether the guilt was real or imagined). This includes the crimes of the left and the right.

How is it even logically possible to disenfranchise a group of people by ignoring their group characteristics?


We had racial policy in the form of slavery, then segregation and Jim Crow, to discriminatory housing policies, to inequitable application of drug laws but now, let's just ignore race and all of its historical context when it comes to outreach and public policy.

That is how it is possible to logically disenfranchise a group of individuals by ignoring their group characteristics. The disenfranchisement already happened.

Diversity programs are not about punishment it is about recognizing the historical context in which we are acting.


Diversity programs are doing a lot more than "recognizing". Recognition is just perception and perhaps symbolic communication. Diversity programs are action.

In this case, the action is to shift economic opportunity from one group to another based on visually-identifiable group characteristics. This is justified by the the idea you stated, which is that the group being disfavored is collectively guilty.

Of course, we ignore how many people in that targeted group have no present or past connection to the sins that are being "recognized" by denying them a way forward in life. I'm sure a white male Ukrainian refugee passed over at Google for "diversity" would not be impressed.

If you're in favor of a policy, you should be able to clearly state what that policy actually is, not hide it behind a linguistic smokescreen which minimizes and obscures what's really happening. Own it - the goals, the methods, the unintended consequences, and the victims. Every social policy has them, so own them.


>We had racial policy in the form of slavery, then segregation and Jim Crow, to discriminatory housing policies, to inequitable application of drug laws

All of those examples are the opposite of

>"treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group"


The majority(>60%) of engineering in big tech companies who are most affected by these diversity initiatives are either foreign born or have parents who are foreign born.


Just because they are considered a group. Our group is "the people", their group is something less. It happens with completely random groups, and when there are racist, sexist etc. excuses they are only a way to make oppressors feel right.


You're eloquent, but I'm sorry - you lose me at "institutionalized racism". That's a very testable thing: find the policy, directive, or law that is racist and cite it. Don't throw out the term as a kind of pervasive but subtly intangible miasm that we have to expunge from our midst like Satan's influence on 16th century New England.


It's also your responsibility to educate yourself. It's not like institutionalized racism is some "subtly intangible miasm". For an example, read up on African Americans and the G.I. Bill after WW2. Heck, the Civil Rights Bill was passed only a little over 50 years ago, after centuries of marginalization. If you want a more modern example, read up on studies of racism in the justice and education systems.


Being "educated" about what happened historically is also acknowledging what's changed for the better. Pre 1964 I'd certainly agree institutional racism existed, because you could point to policy, directives, and laws that were used to actively discriminate. I challenge you to find that now in Google or any other U.S. company, educational institution, or government agency. The G.I. Bill issue is largely rooted in Disparate Impact, which continues to be a gray area.


> We need a manifesto on White Male Persecution Complex Culture in Tech.

Why don't you write one? Would that get you fired?


> Diversity programs are not about lowering the bar, they are about outreach

What if all you are achieving is rearranging the dirt (ignore the negative connotations to dirt)?

Skilled URM engineers who meet the Google hiring bar will find a place to work regardless of outreach efforts. The URM outreach efforts will just shift the talented URMs from other companies to its company.


> Skilled URM engineers who meet the Google hiring bar will find a place to work regardless of outreach efforts.

I'm not so convinced that'd be true! If there are no concerted outreach efforts what's stopping the majority of companies from hiring their mediocre non-URM friends of friends instead?


We can simply inverse the logic to get the statements about men, so why aren't they fundamental and toxic misandry?

To inverse the quotes:

Men, on average, are more closed towards feelings and aesthetics. Men are not social or artistic.

Men are more disagreeable, leading to men being more combative, getting into fights, and being argumentative.

Men are emotional cold and don't have positive emotions.

You can't have a "women are in comparison to men ..." without getting "men are thus in comparison to women". How is those statements promoting men over women?


>Please have a woman you care about in your life, preferably one in tech, read this and then ask their opinion of the piece.

Do you have any women in tech in your life? Did any of them actually read it?

Disclaimer: I did not read the entire piece. From what I've seen over the past 24 hours, the vast majority of people with an opinion on it did not read all (or any) of it either.


Until very recently, almost no one has read the entire piece, because Gizmodo intentionally stripped out all the citations and charts the original author had in the document. Hmm. I can't imagine why....

https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3914586/Googles-I...



I believe that equal opportunity among all persons is manifest. But I think the manner in which we encourage/enforce/promote it, especially in the workplace, demands debate. We must be able to disagree with the methods without any question of our belief of its purpose.

The most disgusted I've ever felt at a workplace was when my boss, prior to me interviewing someone, said, "and she gets an extra point because she's a woman." The government punishes us on research tax breaks if we don't have enough diversity.

So what am I supposed to say to this person when she asks what set her apart from the other candidates to be hired? "No you weren't the best candidate, but you are a woman." That disgusts me and I refuse to do it.

My job is not to balance an arbitrary math equation that x% of engineers are supposed to be women. That's an issue far larger and more systemic. It can't be fixed this way.

What I can do is remind myself that my job is to pick the best candidate, and my definition of "best" may be fraught with bias, so I need to be exceptionally perceptive to question what capabilities each candidate might bring to the job that I don't naturally consider to be ideal.

Apologies for the ranting nature of this comment. I feel frustrated when faced with the reality that what the establishment wants are at such odds with my morals and convictions.


> My job is not to balance an arbitrary math equation that x% of engineers are supposed to be women

It really sound like Goodhart's law. It no longer matters that corporations wanted to remove bias from hiring process and access mostly untapped pool of talents. Now it is important how well they are doing it, measured by single % value.


My job is not to balance an arbitrary math equation that x% of engineers are supposed to be women.

It's also true that your job is not to balance an arbitrary math equation that x% of engineers are supposed to be men either. Consequently, unless you can demonstrate that you're unbiased with regard to gender, it's entirely reasonable to introduce an external pressure to make sure any bias (conscious or otherwise) is mitigated. Ideally that would be blind interviews but that's very difficult to achieve, so diversity programmes are used instead.


You make a good point that I've fought with for a while too. My thinking on this is that unless I can be shown the work for what that % is supposed to be, we're just being wrong by policy, rather than wrong by systemic cultural biases.

I don't believe that a perfect world has every job populated by a even number of persons of all genders. To me, that would suggest that we believe all genders to be the same.

For example, Almost 100% of midwives in Ontario are female. Is this fundamentally wrong and needs to be addressed? What is the correct percentage of male, female, and other midwives? What is the measure of our policy's effectiveness?


Is this fundamentally wrong and needs to be addressed?

It's certainly wrong if there are men who want to be midwives but are blocked from entering that career due to hiring biases. It's also wrong if the few male midwives that do exist are unable to progress in their careers due to sexism in their industry. It's yet more wrong if boys are put off that career at an early age by being told by their teachers (and parents) that being a midwife isn't an acceptable career for a man.

So, yes, it probably is fundamentally wrong and does need to be addressed.


>Almost 100% of midwives in Ontario are female No, it is only a problem for the "good jobs" that are dominated by men. No one will fight for gender ratios in the coal mining business, despite how useful "a diversity of life experience and opinion" might be within this industry.

This entire thing is a political tool being disguised as a moral crusade and it is playing off our collective desire to do the right thing. Absolutely disgusting.


Furthermore, what happens when your boss doesn't say that; you make some objective remarks that she wasn't the best candidate, but she is hired anyways. I suppose this is why you have randomized groups interviewing without knowledge of who is doing the interviewing. By abstracting this away, your bias against the candidate will only be your bias alone in review. Collectively, the majority of interviewers would have to conclude she is unqualified, and given the systemic bias men have in being more critical of women, you would have to make sure you had women mentors also interviewing.

In this scenario, if she ends up being hired, your feedback that she wasn't the best could lead you to the conclusion that maybe others saw something you didn't. Or perhaps, like anyone in an interview, they were off their game for a bit. It's not totally unsound of a conclusion to make.


Women are also generally more critical of women in these situations


Fair enough, I felt like I should've known that :/


Until we take away our own biases, the "extra points" for under-represented minorities have to stay.

The example is: Your internal bias is already in effect before you even meet the people you are interviewing. You're only disgusted and aware of the explicit handicap example from your boss.


And the beatings will continue until morale improves.

Do you know if there's any evidence that affirmative action would increase, or decrease our biases? I would expect them to increase them:

1. Our brains constantly build models of the world without us asking them to. They will pattern-match regardless of the PC-status of the patterns.

2. Affirmative action reduces the average quality of marginalized groups within an institution by design.

3. from (1) and (2) we should expect implicit bias to increase, barring opposing pressure from implicit bias education - which evidence shows doesn't work (google it).


It's possible though it might backfire, just as conflict of interest disclosure may backfire: disclosure can increase the bias in advice because it leads advisors to feel morally licensed and strategically encouraged to exaggerate their advice even further.

http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/426699


Reading the letter, what surprised me was how political it was, framing everything as a "left vs right" cultural fight. I think if it was up to me I'd probably fire anybody on either side of that debate who started circulating shit like this. As soon as you're on that level, nothing good is going to come of it and you're just going to make a lot of people angry, which is very bad for the business in a lot of different ways.

The workplace is no place for politics like this. If you are going to strictly stick to narrow issues that are relevant to the job, then maybe, but as soon as you're writing a 10 page manifesto with phrases like "the Left's affinity for those it sees as weak" or "some on the Right deny science" or "the Marxist intellectuals transitioned from class warfare to gender and race politics" you are way out of line. It doesn't matter if you are correct or not, politicising your workplace in that way shows a stunning lack of judgement.


The workplace is no place for politics like this.

I agree, but I'm pretty sure political posts were already tolerated at Google. If employees are allowed to post to internal message boards that women are underrepresented because interviewers are sexist or suffer from unconcious bias and should adopt policy Y, then employees should also be allowed to post an argument that women are under-represented for some other reason X and argue against policy Y.

And even if the workplace does have a no politics rule, the proper response should be a reprimand and asking him to delete his post, not a firing.


I'm not saying people shouldn't discuss company policies. I'm saying they shouldn't turn those policy discussions into a national/cultural political argument.

If you say "interviewers are being sexist and so we should adopt policy Y", I think that would be acceptable. If you said "there is systemic bias against women so you should vote for Hillary Clinton", to me that would not be acceptable. Once you turn something into left/right liberal/conservative etc you are harming rational discussion and making a lot of trouble in a lot of different ways.

And I think this is the solution that the person who wrote the letter is ironically ruining. You can't have sane level headed discussions about these issues when its framed as left/right. You can if you take every issue on its merits individually. If you want people to be free to voice conservative opinions, then don't turn every issue into a 10 page manifesto dissecting the failures of marxism. Just discuss the policy.

No idea if this reasoning is shared by Google though. It's just my view.


I'm not saying people shouldn't discuss company policies. I'm saying they shouldn't turn those policy discussions into a national/cultural political argument.

I suspect that this memo wasn't any more political than much that gets shared in the message boards at Google. This issue was already politicized and the main gist of the politics stuff was, "Both sides bring insights and biases to the table, so we should do a better job making it comfortable for conservatives to speak up." By the standards of what I see going on the political discourse this was pretty tame stuff. The responses to the piece were 100X worse -- https://files.gab.ai/image/5986e3f03d1f1.jpeg


As I explained to another poster just now: this guy painted a target on himself by becoming a huge liability for Alphabet. By stating that he's OK with discriminating by gender, he put them in a position where they'd have to flag him as someone who couldn't manage a mixed-gender team. Not only that, he should never be allowed to give peer reviews to people in mixed-gender teams. Not only that, he's obviously created animosity with other people inside the company who said they wouldn't want to work with him.

Just deleting the post won't magically fix those issues.


As I explained to another poster just now: this guy painted a target on himself by becoming a huge liability for Alphabet.

Sure, but if Google has already decided it is ok to discuss this issue on company message boards and that it wants to encourage debate and discussion (which it has), then it shouldn't then fire a guy just because he makes an argument other people don't like. The principled thing would be to stand for freedom of debate. Otherwise you are just ceding the company to cry-bullies, ceding the message boards to the faction that is more willing to self-modify to be offended at opposing viewpoints. If anything, Google should fire the employees who responded with personal invective against a fellow Googler.

By stating that he's OK with discriminating by gender, he put them in a position where they'd have to flag him as someone who couldn't manage a mixed-gender team.

He did not say this. He is against discriminating against gender and wants the same hiring and recruiting process regardless of gender.


> then it shouldn't then fire a guy just because he makes an argument other people don't like

He didn't "make an argument other people didn't like". An argument other people might not like could be "guys, I think everything in Google3 sucks and we should rewrite everything in Elixir." This was way beyond that.

I'll refer you to this article, because Yonatan puts it in way better terms than I ever could: https://medium.com/@yonatanzunger/so-about-this-googlers-man...

> Otherwise you are just ceding the company to cry-bullies

While I was at Alphabet we dealt with plenty of cry-bullies, mostly in the form of conservative-leaning folk who thought they should be allowed to say whatever they pleased because "freedom of speech." Most of these self-styled Constitutional Scholars didn't realize that freedom of speech only applies to the government, not your employer. None got fired, as far as I can tell.

> Google should fire the employees who responded with personal invective against a fellow Googler.

And yet, this guy who is openly telling the world he doesn't trust females to be as interested as he is in the job should be applauded? Not sure I follow.

> He is against discriminating against gender and wants the same hiring and recruiting process regardless of gender.

Which is a completely specious claim to make, considering he most likely doesn't know the distribution of gender and ethnicity in the resumes the company receives and he's most likely not familiar with HR practices outside of interviewing. How can he claim there's an active conspiracy to discriminate candidates, when he doesn't know either of those things?

I don't ever recall seeing a diversity advocate say that the employee distribution should match the world 1 to 1. Diversity efforts have always focused on outreach, not on discarding resumes because the candidate is a white male. So he made up a straw-man, then he proceeded to attack it using cherry-picked science while making generalizations about political affiliations.


This was way beyond that.

I read Zunger's article. Getting offended is in large part a choice. I apply the golden rule. If an Asian guy wrote a similar article for arguing why Asian people are over-represented at Google compared to white people, I would not take offense. Maybe he would be wrong, but if he wrote in the tone of the original article I would not call for his firing or say that I couldn't work with him.

mostly in the form of conservative-leaning folk who thought they should be allowed to say whatever they pleased because "freedom of speech."

A cry bully is someone who tries to get other people fired or de-platformed because they claim personal offense. Did these conservatives call for people to get fired? Did they succeed? If not, then good, I'm gladd their cry-bullying attempts were ignored.

And yet, this guy who is openly telling the world he doesn't trust females to be as interested as he is in the job should be applauded?

There is a enormous difference between noticing on average differences and direct personally targeted invective against a specific employee.

not on discarding resumes because the candidate is a white male

You are making up the straw man because that is not what he claims they are doing.


> If an Asian guy wrote a similar article for arguing why Asian people are over-represented at Google compared to white people

If a woman at Google had written this, the conversation would be similar to what you describe. This is a man making a generalization about women. Key difference.

> A cry bully is someone who tries to get other people fired or de-platformed because they claim personal offense.

That's exactly what they would do, taking offense on all kinds of "liberal messaging." And yes, I'm glad they were ignored.

> You are making up the straw man because that is not what he claims they are doing

Then what is he claiming they are doing? (It's a trick question)


It's a man talking about how men are over represented. You don't agree?


If that's what you took out of the "manifesto", then no amount of effort on my part will force you to stick your head out of the sand.


I simply asked you if you agree that it's a man talking about how men are over-represented.

You were drawing a conclusion about how his comments are different from an Asian talking about how Asians are over-represented.

I haven't said anything else.

I take it from your somewhat insulting non-answer that you aren't sure if you agree with me.


> Diversity efforts have always focused on outreach, not on discarding resumes because the candidate is a white male.

This is factually inaccurate, for example the BBC recently advertised positions where white people were explicitly excluded.


I'm talking about a particular context. I'm sure you can cite "reverse-racism" in post-Apartheid South Africa too, but that isn't germane to the conversation.


> I'm talking about a particular context.

Of course you were.

That's why you said "Diversity efforts have always focused on outreach" (my emphasis) and not "Diversity efforts have sometimes focused on outreach" or even "In this particular context, diversity efforts focused on outreach"


I don't think he claimed he was ok with discriminations by gender. Quite the contrary. He claimed there may be other reasons than discrimination for gender imbalances by profession and that these diversity programs actually introduce a discrimination.


This is the same argument currently used against affirmative action programs across the US: "doesn't this discriminate against white people who could be qualified to get accepted into the same position /scholarship?"

It's a disingenuous argument which doesn't take into consideration the whole history of why the program exists in the first place. Not only that, by trying to justify it on biological terms, the author introduces the supposed existence of an inherent bias that Google is supposedly trying to ignore.

How about we try to achieve 1-1 parity with society's distribution and if after 30 years of encouraging people of all genders to participate in all professions there's solid evidence that some people don't care for X or Y reason, then we let the problem take care of itself? I mean if we truly are aiming for non-discrimination, that should be the metric, right?


It is only a disingenuous argument if you are convinced that the gender imbalance is the result of a discrimination in the first place, which you seem to be quite certain it is.

Unlike the guy from Google, I won't speculate on the reasons but there are many gender imbalances that are clearly not the result of a discrimination. For instance a large majority of med and law students (80% in the case of law) in France are women. These are not low skill/low pay/low prestige professions, and I am not aware that there is any discrimination against men in these schools (nor that anyone complained there would). In the school of engineering I went to, the proportion was the reverse (20% women). Selection is purely based on a math and physics exam, very little room for discrimination either. Naturally this male/female imbalance makes its way from university to the profession.

I can't say exactly why we have these imbalances, there might be many reasons, some may be cultural, some may be biological, I don't know, and I very much doubt anyone on HN can pretend to have an authoritative answer, but I also very much doubt it has to do with discrimination.


> It is only a disingenuous argument if you are convinced that the gender imbalance is the result of a discrimination in the first place, which you seem to be quite certain it is.

Then you proceed to write two paragraphs essentially supporting my position that we really don't understand why the imbalances exist. But somehow, this guy stating as a matter of fact that it's a biological thing is not disingenuous. I'm not sure how you can hold both beliefs.


> But somehow, this guy stating as a matter of fact that it's a biological thing is not disingenuous.

Can you point me to where he states this? The closest I found was

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.

which is still very much in the "we don't understand, but maybe this is an explanation" camp.


You do realize that section only focuses on genetic traits and completely ignores cultural context, right? Why do you think that is?


From the memo:

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.

Because he thinks the focus on cultural context ignores some aspects of the problem and leads to bad decisions? I mean, I disagree with his conclusions, but I don't think he is trying to be deliberately misleading.


> By stating that he's OK with discriminating by gender,

Actually, he wrote exactly the opposite.


Of course he did. It's like Ukip claiming not to be racist. The most generous view is that they don't realise that what they advocate is discriminatory or disproportionately affecting particular demographics.


Re: Ukip and racism, there is a lot of political acts to provide context that can invalidate (or not [0]) their statements. As for this guy, his memo should be considered on it's own (in good faith) for lack of outside context about the author.

I do not understand how what he actually advocates could be considered discriminatory. It seems to me that it would indeed "disproportionately affect particular demographics", but in a good way by making sure that no https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berkson%27s_paradox could induce any skill/gender bias in the workforce.

[0] I have no particular knowledge about ukip


Sure, if the world was different. There is a price to pay for companies that want to keep their employees living in the office.

When you want them to go to company parties, the company gym, eat at the company cafeteria, and in the case of Facebook provide company housing, and generally spend a lot of time in the office, then at some point the company is going to discover that their employees have a diverse set of political beliefs as well as beliefs about gender/race/etc, and they will want to express these beliefs over lunch, and at the gym, and at parties, and in social media. They will also want to express those opinions to their friends, which happen to be colleagues. Now you have the big political debates that used to take place in bars and other recreational areas happening in the workplace. That's the cost of the all encompassing office.

Another ingredient in this toxic mix is that a lot of younger people blur the lines between social and professional, and this has been happening for a long time now. As soon as a critical mass lets their work life bleed into their personal life, this is going to end badly and lead to more oppressive workplace structures, as the company isn't going to suddenly democratize decision making. That's why management needs to be very circumspect about the scope of policies they mandate for their workers.

This tearing down of barriers is happening everywhere -- people do personal activities on their corporate laptops, they use their corporate phones for personal calls, they do personal projects on company time and company projects on personal time. They use their social media accounts to talk about company projects, etc.

The only viable option is for the company to retreat from these spheres and to focus on doing your job. They should not ask for social media accounts in the hiring process, nor should they focus so much on "culture". But that's inconsistent with also making the job a lifestyle and keeping the employees working long hours. If you are going to have people spend 50 and 60 hours working closely with each other, then things like political disagreements turn into HR concerns, and are addressed with the same intelligence and care for worker rights as you would expect from a typical HR department.


The thing is that this guy clearly thinks some things that affect his ability to do his job. Would you trust him to write a peer review for a female colleague or mentor a black intern?

I think what you say is true about people searching for ways to express themselves when the lines between work and personal are blurred but fundamentally people have to attempt to be unbiased. It's pretty clear that this guy wasn't willing (or able) to do this and keeping him on would open up Google to a lot of bad PR and potentially lawsuits from people who's reviews/interviews etc that he was involved in.


The thing is that this guy clearly thinks some things that affect his ability to do his job. Would you trust him to write a peer review for a female colleague or mentor a black intern?

Sure, why not?

I believe that the author is generally right, and that there are psychological differences between the sexes. And I have noticed that male bosses who believe that women are the same as men sometimes end up making their female subordinates cry a lot, because they don't realize the same harsh criticisms they would use on a guy are way too harsh for many women. They would be better bosses if they were aware of sex differences. For that reason, I believe knowing the truth is better even if that is "validating stereotypes."


They would be better bosses if they weren't harsh jerks that would alienate a good % of humans on this planet. Lionization of a-holes like steve jobs is terrible, regardless of their accomplishments.


Or the company could get better at HR, or hire people who are politically aligned with each other. Maybe not an option for Google-scale, but it seems possible for smaller companies.


Hiring politically aligned people is illegal in CA. It butts up against old school worker rights still on the books in some places.


I agree hugely with your first paragraph. Debates like this are fraught with toxicity anyway, but once factionalism ("the left claims that.." and so on) gets mixed in any hope of constructive debate goes out the window. The argument ceases to be about ideas, and becomes a my-team-vs-your-team conflict.

(Worse, this then attracts the worst kind of attention from the internet as culture warriors join the fray, regardless of whether they're interested in what the debate was ostensibly about.)

Whether this takes the screed into firing territory I have no opinion on, but I definitely think that the guy's left/right posturing served to preclude any productive debate that he might have inspired.


I sort of agree. I am personally in favour of a sterile workplace. No political talk, no baby talk, leave all that stuff at home or for your friends and focus on the task at hand. But that's not what he got sacked for. From what I understand the guy claims he was sacked for "perpetuating gender stereotype". If that's the case, he wasn't sacked for discussing politics, he was sacked for expressing the wrong political opinion.


> what surprised me was how political it was

> The workplace is no place for politics like this.

You could argue that affirmative action, because that's what it is about, is essentially a political stance ,and business are totally free to engage into these recruitment practices, but it absolutely follows a specific ideological thus political framework.

IMHO When you introduces political activism in your work place you will transform your work environment into a political battleground. period.


You could argue that but that in itself doesn't give the argument credibility.


I think the hundreds of blog and social media posts by hardcore leftists co-workers calling for him to be fired and worse because they do not believe has the right to speak his opinions because the disagree with his opinions is ample proof that google is political turf. And purging political enemies and claiming turf is part of the culture at this point.


>The workplace is no place for politics like this.

Actually, it is, in California. Political affiliation is a protected class.

You have to make a different argument if you want him fired.


No I don't, because I don't live in the U.S.

Google didn't fire him for the reasons I gave.


Him being toxic for the workplace culture and nobody wants to work with him isn't enough?


Sure, it could be. I think firing him was the right move. But if the parent commenter makes the argument he did in court, he's going to be violating labor law in a big way.


There's no way they could plausibly determine this in the time they have had. And, there's no way there aren't people at google who don't agree with him. Which is why they had to act.

The key to large organization management is control: they are doing this quickly before anything else happens. His presence both legitimises his point of view, and acts as a rallying point. If others are sufficiently emboldened, they may also act out. If they start organizing together, this has the potential of rapidly turn into a long standing issue for google.


> There's no way they could plausibly determine this in the time they have had.

Is that so? Do the complaints of numerous other employees not demonstrate some level of toxicity?

Edit -- thanks for helping me earn my karma today. It's delicious the way y'all are so eager to downvote me instead of engaging. It's almost like you think I have an ulterior motive being masked by a veneer of good-faith engagement or something. I wonder where I might have gotten that idea from...


They don't demonstrate that no one is willing to work with him. Moreover, there are a number of people claiming to be hearing cries of dismay from within google that he was fired. He's not quite the pariah you've painted him to be.

When you get laid off, they give you 30 days to find another department to work in. There's no reason why he wasn't afford the same, if his departure was due to co-workers not wanting to work with him any more.


>The workplace is no place for politics like this

Sadly, with the onsluaght of statism in the US, that's no longer the case.

Eric Schmidt (and a whole team from Google) played a crucial role in Team Hillary’s election tech.

https://qz.com/823922/eric-schmidt-played-a-crucial-role-in-...

Given this context, the firing of the guy only confirms his point about Google not tolerating dissenting opinions.


I hate that the diversity issue has been tightly coupled with left-wing politics. Now you can't take a stance on the diversity issue without aligning yourself with left/right wingers by proxy.


Saying "the workplace is no place for politics" is basically saying the workplace is no place to be human.

All workplaces are political. The politics of founder/owners/executives are in every fiber of he workplace. Denying it is highly disingenuous.

Moreover, said denial is one of the root causes why we are having these issues. The tech industry likes to project an image of being "liberal", when in fact the culture is highly conservative. Until recently, people like the author felt perfectly at home in most tech companies, including Google, because its politics quietly aligned with their politics.

And now that he's making it explicit he is suddenly the one politicising the workplace?

To be clear, I vehemently disagree with the author. But until about ten years ago, most of the industry quietly agreed with these views, which is why we have these problems in the first place.

It was political then and it is political now. It took political resistance to put diversity on the corporate agenda in the first place.

The workplace culture is and will always be a primary political arena. Especially with a company like Google, that is actively involved in politics and shaping our society in general.

What people who claim that the workplace is no place for politics are basically saying is that the workplace is no place for politics they disagree with. (Ironically, the position that the workplace is no place for politics is a traditionally conservative position. Worker bees should keep their ideology at home, whereas corporations are free to politically indoctrinate workers through euphemisms like "culture" and "values".)

I applaud the author for standing up for his political believes as much as I applaud Google for firing him.


What people mean by "the workplace is no place for politics" is that the workplace is no place for employees to express their political views. E.g see this Quora question: https://www.quora.com/How-not-to-get-fired-while-organizing-... The first answer is depressingly: "First, learn all you can about union organizing and learn to keep your mouth shut. Accept the fact that eventually they will know who you are." You can also use Google and find about a million examples of people who have been fired for trying to unionize workplaces.

We have already accepted that de facto some speech is suppressed in the work place. That's why I think this story is a little hypocritical. Lots of people are arguing for this persons right to express his opinion that men are more suited than women to work in tech, but no one is defending workers rights to advocate for improved labor conditions.

Fwiw, I definitely don't think Google should be allowed to fire him. But I feel a little ambivalent about defending him, since "his side" wouldn't defend my rights to voice my opinion.


I agree that work and politics should be separate, but Google has already built itself a reputation for its strong political leanings. Every few weeks they have some sponsored video on YouTube promoting their political leanings and their involvement in the US gov isn't exactly a secret. Google is pretty much a Political Think Tank++ at this point.


"The workplace is no place for politics like this."

That's ironic. Because the politics that he criticizes are without a doubt left wing policies that ARE applied in Google, from top-down. I'm not saying they are bad policies, but they are political in nature.


You would fire anyone who voiced any political view? Regardless of being correct? What kind of managerial strategy is that?


The sort of strategy that enforces existing, useful social norms in my country. Nobody in any company I have ever worked at has done anything like this. If anybody ever said "the Marxist intellectuals transitioned from class warfare to gender and race politics" as part of a justification for changing a company policy I would immediately a) tell them they are out of line and b) report them if they continued. It's rude and counter productive in so many ways.


Social norms are more local than national. There are many parts of the US where people would nod their head when they read that, and puzzle at why you got upset. Not everyone who works in Mountain View is actually from Mountain View.

Much of this seems to be about people in positions of power being personally offended at the views of someone with whom they disagree. The proof is in your saying this was "rude" - who was that statement being rude to, Marxist intellectuals? Are there a lot of Communists at Google?

I don't think this reaction has anything to do with keeping some kind of social decorum, or keeping a company running smoothly. In this case the effect is a real-life ideological echo chamber, where the people in power fire anyone whose views they don't like, and fear of reprisal from voicing alternate views creates a groupthink mentality.

Several people have brought up the idea that because the manifesto author has shown his bias, that means there is no way he could work with someone of a different gender. But this is illogical; tons of people have the same bias! Just because they didn't write a manifesto doesn't mean they don't think some of the arguments might be valid. So really, what difference is there in keeping this guy around, whose bias they know and can clearly identify if it ever affects his work relations? Is it worse than the secret biases held by everyone else?

--

Obviously, as a man, I am not going to be subject to the kind of discrimination a woman would be, so if someone's views annoy me and I dismiss them, that's much different than when discrimination against a woman affects her livelihood and state of mind. In this regard we have to consider women as a particularly vulnerable population (in this industry, anyway) and act to protect them from the disproportionate negative effects of bias in the industry.

On top of that, the lack of women in the industry makes it very difficult to have a fair discussion of the issues. We should be trying to help men understand why women need special treatment, in order to help the industry grow out of its biases. But you can't help the industry get better if you fire anyone who questions the process. It's the white-collar equivalent of shooting anyone who doesn't tow the party line. This prevents establishing a dialogue, enforcing culture through fear. And a culture built on fear is never a good thing. It'll end up setting back the whole endeavor.


The author's arguments have been completely misrepresented. He pointed out widely-believed and sometimes scientifically-established differences in the DISTRIBUTION OF traits in men and women. He said that those differences make attempts to achieve numerical parity misguided, discriminatory, and harmful. What is his conclusion about how we should behave? "Treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group." Wow, what a monster.

The reaction to the memo is really the most damning thing about the whole affair. Everyone is just rushing to virtue signal, to demonstrate their own purity of thought. They've just proved the author's point. Honestly, Google might have even been rational to fire him, due to the toxic situation created by the mass outrage. How incredibly damning of our society.

A particular brand of liberalism has reached the point of being a religion, and the establishment is running an inquisition against any who dare to question its points of dogma.

This is the closing of the American mind.


It's not about virtue signaling, he was almost certain to be terminated just because it was a ridiculously stupid thing to say - you can't tell your teammates that they were hired because their employer lowered the bar and expect people not to be upset about it (and that's 100% what he did, he also made up pseudo-scientific bullshit to try to justify it, but he flat out insulted countless people within his company).

Given that the document has (rightfully) alienated women inside and outside his organization, it becomes impossible for this person to be an effective member of the team:

- The next time a woman interviews for his team, and he votes against hiring, how does the hiring committee interpret that vote?

- The next time he's peer reviewed by a woman, how does that review get interpreted?

- The next time he peer reviews a woman, how does that review get interpreted?

- The next time a female candidate interviews with the author and is denied, how likely is it that the candidate will believe they had a fair interview, or is the organization perpetually exposed to increased legal risk forever?

Such a manifesto is not just fundamentally wrong, it's toxic and shows a profound lack of awareness for any professional.


I'm sorry, he did not tell his teammates they were hired because Google lowered the bar. Again, he's talking about on average differences and noting that the goal (50/50 representation) might not only be misguided but actively harmful. Why is this so controversial? He's talking about a process not individuals on his team or anywhere else at Google.


At the risk of repeating myself, the memo's author did in fact say that "Google has created several discriminatory practices", which include "hiring practices which can effectively lower the bar for 'diversity' candidates". What else are we supposed to infer from the author's assertions if not that at least some of Google's diversity candidates have been let in because of weakened standards? Is he talking about a hypothetical, alternate-universe Google? It doesn't seem so, despite the passive tone of the memo.

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3914586-Googles-Ideo...


> At the risk of repeating myself, the memo's author did in fact say that "Google has created several discriminatory practices", which include "hiring practices which can effectively lower the bar for 'diversity' candidates".

Please take care not to deceptively quote the author in question. This is the full sentence:

> Hiring practices which can effectively lower the bar for “diversity” candidates by decreasing the false negative rate.

The author deliberately crafted this statement to make it clear that he is referring to qualified, non-diverse, candidates being rejected at greater rates than qualified and diverse candidates - not that unqualified diverse candidates are accepted at a higher rate.


Your interpretation of that statement makes no sense. With that interpretation: a) the bar isn't lowered in any sense of the word, as that would imply less qualified people getting in, b) you'd claim that for unexplained reasons, Google can give more accurate evaluations for diversity candidates, c) and/or that they are rejecting candidates they know unequivocally to be qualified and d) even if all of this was the case, there wouldn't be anything discriminatory about it. At least where I'm from, it is literally a legal requirement, that if multiple candidates compete for the same position, diversity candidates are given preference.

Even in its most generous reading (yours), this sentence makes zero sense.


The author is either a total idiot or he just retired with a cool 10-30MM he would be paid by Google to be fired.

I'm going to guess it is the later: Lawsuit from him would cause discovery. Unlike other government lawsuit, he would actually be able to say who at Google has access to the needed paperwork/email/etc to demonstrate that he is correct in his assertion. The government would love to piggy back on him. So I'm guessing Google is cutting a very large check now.


So can another 100 employees publish the same letter and get fired and line up for their million dollar payouts too?

I don't know about the discovery argument. If he was an HR insider and acting as a whistleblower to disclose an illegal practice, sure. But a regular employee can't voice opinions about something that's common knowledge and force the company to disclose a bunch of confidential information.


The mistake Google made was thinking that they don't have 100 conservative-leaning employees also willing to martyr themselves in the shadow of the original author's exit.

What are they going to do when someone else steps up and makes the same assertions with more tact? Fire him too? What about the person after them? They gave extraordinary leverage not to the person that they fired, but to the people that have not been fired yet.

It's uncharacteristically nontechnical of Google to think that of the anywhere between 30-50% of the US population that leans conservatively, there is only one of them working for Google in Mountain View and that any dissenting thoughts within the company will end with him, and that the liberal employees threatening to quit will be happy and sated just to see these few drops of blood.

It doesn't matter the size of the check Google cuts this guy, nor the next 100 individuals if they choose to also speak out. Google made a mountain out if a molehill, and they just left a very a long way for the snowball they just threw to gather some mass while rolling down.


Realistically, even 100 conservative leaning employees aren't going to make a dent in the 60,000 person company that is google. I'd probably be blip on their normal attrition rate.

While I think that many outlets are misrepresenting and selectively quoting the piece to make it seem more offensive than it is, the reality is that the author used a lot of loaded language and created many opportunities for misinterpretation.

If this were at my company and the article didn't blow up online I'd probably have a talk with the author to point out all the ways that this piece could easily be misinterpreted and construed as offensive and that the same ideas can be conveyed in ways that are a lot less likely to blow up in your face. If this were at my company the article did go viral like it did in real life, I'd probably let this employee go. While I would say this is placing the interests of the company over the psychological safety of my employees, the pragmatic reality is that PR and potentially internal dissent caused by retaining the employee does not outweigh the moral win of retaining an employee who wrote a tone-deaf article that went viral and was widely perceived as offensive - even if the underlying ideas aren't ourageous.


No, that's exactly what they are afraid of.

His presence inside google both legitimises his behaviour and acts a rallying point. They might not be able to prevent like minded people from seeking each other out, but they can prevent them from doing it openly. They might not be able to prevent others from acting in a similar manner, but they will do all they can to avoid emboldening them.

They are willing to deal with the external flack and legal ramifications of a contentious firing, if it helps them avoid an insurrection.


Cutting a check for 3-6 months severance as a sign of good faith, wrapped up in an NDA. There's no cause for anything more than that.


Those checks Apple had to pay for Jobs mouthing off "you're fired" at semi-random employees did not come with only a six month severance despite "at will" work contract.

I imagine this ex-employee will get a generous severance or expect good lawyers knocking soon.


I thought Jobs was a founder, not just some grunt. Maybe being an owner put him in a much better position than this guy currently finds himself in.


Of course. My point is those tantrum firings cost him a million or two at a time --despite at will work.


This doesn't look like a tantrum firing. He created too much drama for his own good. As an owner, anyone would find that distracting and unnecessary. This certainly doesn't advance the company's interest in any way.

Now whether he is able to successfully sue google and make big bucks is difficult to predict at this point. But it's certain that his career is finished for the foreseeable future.

It is a profoundly stupid thing to do for anyone who likes their job as an engineer. Maybe this guy doesn't and wants to start a new career in blogging or some similar shit. In that case, this may be a great new start for him.


It's not a tantrum firing but it's also not a firing with cause and it steers close to free speech.

If Pao could sue KPC&B, I think he stands a chance, unrelated as they are, it suggests suits can go forward on slim allegations and here he has evidence clear as day they fired him for having a difference in opinion on their hiring practices. He personally didn't discriminate nor personally conduct himself untowards anyone. He offered some (unconvincing evidence about how women don't have the same aptitude as men --but you are likely to find evidence Google does have internal hiring goals and allows a culture which virtue signals against the majority culture) and they didn't like it.

Thing is, if this had been a woman or minority citing some dubious data about how more women and minorities should be hired (which I agree with but on other principles), we would not even blink at it, if it even would have surfaced)


The problem with this line of reasoning is that Google can make a legitimate claim that the firing was for cause. Creating a hostile work environment is sufficient cause for termination, and I am quite sure that something like this is buried in some clause of the standard Google employment contract.

You don't have free speech rights at work, or more to the point you can say whatever you want and the company can do just about whatever it wants in response to this speech. To go full Godwin here, if this employee had, instead of talking about how women and minorities "lowered the bar", wrote and distributed interally a manifesto about how Google had too many Jewish employees and how these employees were mostly hired because of post-Holocaust western guilt and maybe we need to reexamine whether this whole Holocaust thing really happened I can assure you that he would have been shown the door within the hour. No one is locking him up for his speech act, but Google would have had no problem in firing him for that same speech act.

Others have pointed out in great detail all of the unpleasant future consequences for any potential interaction that leads to conflict between this employee and his peers. This situation was created entirely by the employee who posted the manifesto. He can sue Google, but he will lose.


If Pao could sue KPC&B

People in general can sue anyone if there's any possibility they might win. The only way her lawsuit would be thrown out if she had never worked for them, or something like that. Otherwise, the way to find out if her claims have merit is the lawsuit.

Which she lost, and was forced to pay $276k to KPC&B. So not exactly a good omen.


Right but IIRC, they fired her for perf issues, she retaliated with harassment or discrimination.

Here they fired him not for perf (defensible) but for difference in opinion (maybe defensible but icky) not anything bad he did. I think he stands a better chance than Pao's retaliatory suit.


> Here they fired him not for perf (defensible) but for difference in opinion (maybe defensible but icky) not anything bad he did.

He wrote the manifesto and distributed it within the workplace. That's absolutely an action he took at work, that's a thing he did.

See also the Shoe Rebellion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12022280

You don't have freedom of speech at work. Apparently in the US that's not a freedom of speech issue until the Government says you can't say certain things at work.


And to bring this back around to the utter insanity and disingenuousness that has erupted from this episode, this is a line from the linked article, Ellen Pao’s gender-discrimination lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in 2015 also brought the issue to light,

Pao's issue was shown to be a non-issue, yet "it brought the issue to light" ok...

I wonder why the author didn't mention the resolution of the lawsuit? I wonder why she mentioned it all? Oh right, peddling falsehoods, both explicitly and implicitly.


That's not how it works. Google can fire him for no reason, and arguing with a company's policies on a mailing list is a pretty good reason to fire. Like, it's perfectly legit for a company to say shut up and get with the pogrom. Even if he's fired for saying stuff that is true. Edit: However, there might be specific technical reasons it's an illegal firing outlined in other posts in this thread. IANAL


But they didn't fire him for no reason. They fired him for a reason, but not a reason you typically fire someone for. Ergo either big severance + NDA or forthcoming lawsuit.


What I'm disagreeing with your post is the general "free speech" issue. That's not going to be it. It might be some specific "raising concerns about discrimination" reason, sure. I'm not sure we're really disagreeing -- I'm only disagreeing with the general nature of your previous post. I agree that hypothetically they fired him for some illegal reason -- or that at least such could be argued in court (for all I know).


Leverage.

Government lawsuit against Google right now means that he has the leverage. The odds are the same people who are tasked with the programs to promote whatever the author carefully worded in his post are the people who received/sent emails/edited internal presentations that mentioned something that a good lawyer would be able to twist into a Google's managers admitting that Google does in fact systematically pays women less than men to do the same job. Google has a lot more to lose from that lawsuit than from the author of the memo.

[Edit: typos/clarity]


Do you mean the US government would sue google on this guy's behalf?

I would think, with all they have on their plate right now, they can't be bothered about some idiot who couldn't keep his mouth shut in public and just do the job he was hired for.


Not at all. There's a lawsuit against Google: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/apr/07/google-pa...

Government's problem in this case is the same kind of problem that government had in the US v. IBM: IBM buried government in the paperwork and government did not know where to look at to dig itself out.

Here comes the author who seems to have a very good idea of the remediation programs that Google has. The odds are extremely high the people in charge of the remediation programs/diversity programs/etc are the ones who are familiar with the issues that Google has: it is fairly logical. The author probably knows who these people are. He probably talked to them. Probably those people told him whatever he used as the basis for his manifesto. If he drags those people out into the spotlight, the government would suddenly have a beacon for their case.

That's why I, personally, think Google made a gigantic mistake firing the guy.


This is pretty interesting. Though I think Google is right to fire this guy, the collateral damage to themselves is an interesting thing to follow.

Whether he was right or wrong, he has hurt the company. I think he is wrong to be sure. But it doesn't matter.

It is also interesting because, a loss in a major legal case may throw up interesting possibilities in the stock market. Of course, one needs to be much more legally aware, than I am, to take full advantage of these possibilities.


OK, but the Department of Labor suit claims that Google "discriminated against its female employees". And Damore almost claims reverse discrimination. So I don't get how they'd work together.

However, Damore did file a NLRB claim before he was fired. So he seems prepped to sue, or perhaps to negotiate a private settlement.


They do not need to work together. DOL would just rely on the information that sees a light of day because of the author's lawsuit.

Without a lawsuit: DOL gets two million "records" (emails/docs/memos) related to hiring/performance evaluation/etc. It needs to sift through those two million records trying to find the ones that support its case.

With this lawsuit: author knows who in the organization deals with this exact issue. Those people probably had emails from their managers/sent emails to others that can be made to support governments position in DOL lawsuit. Now instead of sifting through the two million records that they got, DOL focuses on 20,000 records authored by those likely to have the kind of information.

That's why such dismissals are dangerous to the company engaged in a costly/high-stakes litigation with the government.