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[flagged] Why I Was Fired by Google (wsj.com)
293 points by dpflan 44 days ago | hide | past | web | 440 comments | favorite



I personally find the whole "Goolag" thing ridiculous. I've had relatives (great grandparents/uncles/aunts) in the USSR who were removed from their homes in the middle of the night by the government. One was even shot/killed.

Getting fired from your high-paying job to go off and get another high-paying job, after you spent numerous hours writing some controversial BS about women/hiring instead of, you know, doing your actual job, is not anywhere close to the type of persecution people have faced in the past - so let's please not pretend it is.


Alright, let me chime in:

For people that were less political danger, they usually were fired for "Political Incorrectness" and "Agitation and Propaganda", sent to re-education classes, and only given shitty job opportunities from now then. It was a convenient way to keep the less dangerous masses at bay.

If "being conservative" becomes a "fireable" offense in most large tech valleys, then we are in a path to similar stances.

Now, here where I disagree with the memo in general (it didn't seem constructive), I disagree with the way google handled the whole situation overall.

Anyway, this whole episode (if you are not a feminist you are the enemy stance and the black list that managers at google have) starts smelling more of a McCarthyism https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCarthyism

For people that just want to do their job and don't want to get involved in these discussions you almost are forced to do something, otherwise you are an evil/enemy/suppressor/whatever else. That bothers me, as I lived under communism and have lived the results of blind ideology.


Why are we drawing the connection that he was fired for being a conservative? Tons and tons of people in the valley are their own special breed of techno-libertarian and they seem to be totally secure in their jobs. He was fired for being political at work. Don't be political at work. No one wants someone walking around their workplace talking about the evils of abortion. No one wants your coworker to ask if you'll sign an ACLU petition on trans rights while you're microwaving your pasta. No one wants to sit down at their email and see something like FW: My Thoughts on Women and the Workplace with Damore's pdf attached.


> He was fired for being political at work. Don't be political at work.

Well, more specifically, I think he was fired for being political in a way that caught outside attention and caused bad PR. Plenty of people are political at work, whether they be work politics or otherwise. This is a "You made the company have to weigh in on something that is way over your pay grade, and that's not something we're going to take a chance happening again with you." Executives and boards don't like when they have to stop what they're doing and put out a PR fire started by a low rank employee, whether that employee expected that outcome or not. That the firing of the employee causing problems at the executive level coincides with a way to combat the PR just makes the decision all that much easier.


Whoa, there - doesn't the fact that a low ranking employee, to use the phrase, can cause a global scale shitstorm, mean that just maybe, there are actually problems which were swept under the rug for too long?


Not necessarily. All that person has to do is tap into a controversial topic that divides people and involves the company.

E.g. "Big pharma researcher says our system is killing people." If it wasn't already done and old news, if it happened to get traction we'd have the same situation. And let's not kid ourselves, he's probably not the first there to state this or even the first to share his views. He is the first that had it turn into big news because it went viral, but content isn't the only factor in something going viral.


Some of the later claims of the low-level employee absolutely justify the dumpster-fire: if diversity-related meetings go deliberately unrecorded to stop paper trails, if special second-chance privileges are given to diversity hiring candidates, .... that's pretty rotten stuff.


Would he have been fired if his position (similarly political) were for a stronger, more liberal diversity policy?

Of course not. That's the difference here. It was a work-provided place soliciting feedback on the company's diversity and hiring policies. Politics are already present in the existing policy.


If his liberal diversity policy was "white men shouldn't be hired, they are unfit to do the job" then yes he probably would have been fired still.

That would be the actual alt-left equivalent here.


He neither suggested women shouldn't be hired, nor that they are unfit for the job. Read the memo.


He did suggest that the natural percentage of women in tech would be below 50%, and it would take "authoritarian" measures to reach 50% or greater.


Indeed, and that's where the argument that he's "all for equality" falls flat on it's ass. I call that kind of reasoning "benevolent bigotry": "ohhh, of course black lives matter! But you know, black people are predisposed to be criminals, so it's understandable if they get shot more frequently..."

It's unbelievable that in 2017, in a field that is vastly dominated by males, someone would have the gall to claim "trying to introduce more diversity is repression."

Can you imagine if the roles were reversed, and the nurses association said "well, we don't really want more males in the profession because they are clearly not biologically ready to deal with people. We'd love to have them, but clearly they are not interested so we'll set a quota on how many can be certified per year"? The same people defending Damore would be flipping their shit.


> the argument that he's "all for equality" falls flat on it's ass

Because it's not your definition of equality? Why not impress us with your own brand of philosophy by writing a cited, 10-page memo on the topic, then maybe you'll get buy-in.

> It's unbelievable that in 2017

Why? Is 2017 the year that its ok to repress individuals in favour of their respective political/identity group statistics? "introducing more diversity" is a sinister sugar-coating of what's happening here.

> we don't really want more males in the profession because they are clearly not biologically ready to deal with people

You mean imagine an entirely different thing? If someone explained why so few men chose to go into nursing using the same reasoning, they would not "[flip] their shit" - only because you manufactured an aspect not in the memo. He doubly-so didn't suggest setting a quota on women in IT, which is the cherry on the strawman.


[flagged]


Yes, you did, and I responded to that.

I didn't "compare Damore to Rosa Parks", someone argued that Damore shouldn't have voiced his opinion for fear of not being hireable, and I compared this to Rosa Parks being told she'd have difficulty catching a bus. Given the comments you've posted already across HN, I believe it is you that has a problem.


> I didn't "compare Damore to Rosa Parks"

> someone argued that Damore shouldn't have voiced his opinion for fear of not being hireable, I compared this to Rosa Parks being told she'd have difficulty catching a bus

Same thing.


No it isn't.


Stop pretending that "comparing" is ipso facto bad.


Stop pretending that you are a repressed minority.


Repression is is still repression, even if to an individual who is a member of a "majority" group, because they are still individuals; and who gets to decide which groupings and individual characteristics are relevant anyway?

No one is "pretending [they] are a repressed minority", you just assume this because you think that has to be the case before individual equality is necessary. Minorities and majorities, repressed or otherwise, all deserve fair treatment.


> Minorities and majorities, repressed or otherwise, all deserve fair treatment.

And yet, here you are, advocating for using a weak "biological" argument to be unfair to a minority.


You don't know what I'm advocating for, since you've yet to accurately portray the memo.


I don't know what you are advocating for, because so far you've only "advocated" on defending Damore's memo, but never specified what about it. Until you accurately portray the memo, I don't see there's anything for me to retract.


What do you want from me?

A: "Damore's memo says 2 + 2 = 5!!"

B: "No it doesn't."

A: "prove it doesn't!!"

I defend Damore's memo against stuff it didn't say, what exactly can I specify, other than quote the entire thing to demonstrate what isn't in it? The memo accurately portrays itself, it even starts of with a summary stating it's main points and aims.

What I have done is repeatedly ask you which specific part led you to your conclusions. You want me to prove a negative here? The burden is on you to defend your claims.

You have also attributed a number of claims to me that I have not made (e.g. there is zero gender-bias in tech). I also do not bear a burden of proof for claims I did not make.


> What do you want from me?

Very simple: tell me what exactly in Damore's memo resonates with you, why do you think it's true. That's all. Even if it's restating, in two sentences, what you believe to be the content of the memo.

> What I have done is repeatedly ask you which specific part led you to your conclusions. You want me to prove a negative here? The burden is on you to defend your claims.

And when I do, you just say "but he never said that!". Apparently there's no interpretation possible other than whatever super narrow interpretation you came to. Everything else is poppycock.

> You have also attributed a number of claims to me that I have not made (e.g. there is zero gender-bias in tech)

That's rich. You asked me to prove there's a problem. Why would you ask me to do it? If you acknowledge that there is gender bias, then how can you possibly believe there is no problem? It doesn't follow.


This profoundly misrepresents the statements in the memo.


How so? This comment kind of sums up what Damore was suggesting.

Also, I think Damore's 50/50 diversity logic stoked lot of bad feelings both for and against. No diversity policy aims for 50/50, rather help raise the percentage of under represented (in this case women) more than what was in the past. He modelled his whole memo based on this 50/50 diversity split and went on to suggest that biologically 50/50 representation is not at all possible, which may be true but that is not the point or aim of a diverse workplace.


Actually, I don't think you can sum up a lenghty "manifest" about a tricky topic in a few sentences without misrepresenting its points and losing the nuance. That might be one of the core reasons why the whole thing got out of hand.

I read the memo 3 times over several days just to make sure that I don't miss a key thing (and I'm still no fully sure). But I bet a hell lots of people who commented on it didn't even read it thoroughly once.

One could argue though that Damore should have expected this (but maybe he actually did. I can totally imagine that he had mentally prepared himself before to get fired over this).


> Actually, I don't think you can sum up a lenghty "manifest" about a tricky topic in a few sentences without misrepresenting its points and losing the nuance

When you want to prove a paper wrong you don't need delve on every nuance, you just need to prove the base premise is flawed. Not sure why Damore deserves a different treatment, when clearly he's trying to build an argument and proposes "solutions" based on it.

> One could argue though that Damore should have expected this

Oh, I'm pretty sure he was looking for this.


"When you want to prove a paper wrong you don't need delve on every nuance, you just need to prove the base premise is flawed. "

Even if so, that assumes that the base premise actually has been correctly identified.

His base premise was not "women are worse engineers than men". Yet this is what most critics and media argued against.

His base premise was about differences in the average distribution of traits, which is a completely different thing, doesn't say anything about abilities of an individual, and actually is not that flawed. There is plenty of scientific evidence pointing towards that direction. It's not total consensus but describing it as "flawed" would be pretty ignorant, as far as I can interpret the scientific status quo.

But understanding this base premise required that people actually would have put some own thought into what they read, and were open to nuance.


No, the main premise is that Google is fostering a culture of discrimination by trying to increase diversity. The whole "women are different" argument was just a strut to build that premise. Why bring up "leftist ideals" if he's just trying to make an argument about diversity?

(That's an honest question, BTW, not trying to be inflammatory)


> It's unbelievable that in 2017, in a field that is vastly dominated by males, someone would have the gall to claim "trying to introduce more diversity is repression."

From the point of view of a young white male fresh out of school, to hold them back for no other reason than a female PoC is deemed more diversically attractive, is indeed repression.


Do you realize how hypocritical your position is?

You are OK with a woman not being hired because of gender bias - which exists right now, instead of in a potential future imagined by Damore - as long as you get hired. In other words: let's not solve the current problems, just so that we introduce one that might potentially affect you.

Nice.


> a woman not being hired because of gender bias - which exists right now

Proof/citations please. And with "concrete numbers" - if you are going to correct for bias, you need to know its magnitude.


Easy: people like Damore exist. You exist. With people like you in the field, it's clear that there's a segment of the population who is OK to apply gender bias.

Concrete numbers? Just look at the current 80%/20% division. Considering people like Damore exist, it's fair to assume that at least a >0% skew exists because of gender bias. But don't take it from me, just go ask any woman o(even the ones that Damore mentions in his memo.)

Next question?

(BTW, what a ridiculous argument you are trying to make. Even Damore, who you take as an eminent authority in the subject, admits there's gender bias in the industry.)


> people like Damore

Whatever. When facts fail, thrown around labels and malicious speculation.

> people like you in the field ... OK to apply gender bias

> Even Damore ... admits there's gender bias in the industry

Please provide quotes for either me or Damore being in favor of some kind of "[application] of gender bias". Or that where I claim there is no gender bias? Please drop that strawman.

> it's fair to assume that at least a >0% skew exists because of gender bias.

And Where does Damore claim there is no gender bias? Other than right at the beginning where he says "I am not denying sexism exists".

> go ask any woman

seriously..

> what a ridiculous argument you are trying to make

Well, you are the eminent authority of ridiculous arguments.


> Please provide quotes for either me or Damore being in favor of some kind of "[application] of gender bias".

Supporting the completely out of whack status quo is enough. I know, next up you'll say "I never said I support the status quo!". Because that's what you do.

> > go ask any woman > seriously..

Seriously. How many female engineers do you work with on a day-to-day basis? How many do you know outside of work? Ask them about their experiences with sexual harassment or gender stereotyping. Every woman I know who works in tech has had to deal with some of it at some point or the other.

> Well, you are the eminent authority of ridiculous arguments.

At leas I have arguments, you have none.


The left-wing equivalent is the existing policy, and his proposal was a mainstream conservative one.

And no, we won't be able to ever rationally discuss this when opponents straw man the memo as you're doing here.


> If "being conservative" becomes a "fireable" offense in most large tech valleys, then we are in a path to similar stances

It's not similar. It's not even remotely similar, that's what you don't get.


I wonder what your "credentials" are to speak on the subject. I grew up in the USSR. During 195x my grandfather and grandmother together with their 5 children did a number of years in a low security camp at the Russian North cutting timber.

>It's not similar. It's not even remotely similar, that's what you don't get.

It looks similar to me, very similar (and i'm ok with it because it is against conservatives this time).


I think a big difference between the USA and the USSR is that in the USA, everybody hates on their countrymen and thinks that the rest of the country is full of shit, while my understanding of the USSR is that you could only do this if you were relatively powerful. In the USA, no matter how offensive you are, you can find someone who agrees with you.

Mr. Damore has already been offered a job by Wikileaks. He's making the media rounds. He's being hailed as a hero by Breitbart and other right-wing talk shows. Chances are, he's not going to have trouble finding another job.


man, the fact that a witch hunt didn't result in the target becoming poor/homeless/imprisoned/mob-beaten, etc. doesn't make it to be not a witch hunt. It is just a result of not everybody participating in the witch hunt. As you pointed out, the US society is [God bless that] far from being single-minded/totalitarian , and thus it is hard to make everybody to participate in the same witch hunt.


That's basically how America works, though. We still have witch hunts - hell, we had the original New World witch hunt in 1692 - because we're human and humans are little shits to people they don't like. The beauty of America is that you can always find a bigger shit who doesn't like the little shits who are beating you up, and nobody will stop you from going and hanging out with them (well, except in the public school system, the most fucked up part of America).


I guess this system is not without its failure modes. Sure you can get up and leave at any time and find a tribe that will accept you, but where is the incentive to seek consensus? Then comes the election time and half of the country ends up thinking the other half has gone insane.


The only incentive to seek consensus is when the country is threatened by an outside nation even more hostile and foreign (i.e. Hitler or Stalin).

The U.S. has a super long history of half the country thinking that the other half has gone insane. See eg. the elections of 1800, 1824, 1828, 1860, 1888, 1896, 1912, 2000, and 2016, along with other watershed moments in American politics like the Alien & Sedition acts, Hamilton/Burr duel, Compromise of 1850, FDR's attempt to pack the Supreme Court, Civil Rights Movement, Nixon impeachment, Whitewater, Vietnam & Iraq wars, etc. Someday we'll probably break apart, but a system based on the premise that we're all little shits who need to fight each other has shown remarkable resilience.


How is it similar?

I worked with a guy circa 2002 who emigrated from Russia in the 1990s. He was from a fundamentalist Christian sect who had _all_ his teeth knocked out by the butt of a gun in a Russian prison. This would have been sometime in the 1990s.

He was a good engineer but pretty abrasive, and ended up leaving on his own accord. But even _if_ he was fired for expressing his unorthodox political or religious ideas at work, I doubt he'd equivocate it with the treatment he received in Russia.

All these senseless equivocations do everybody harm. Supposedly liberal college students do something similar with their micro-aggression framing device; it's not reasonable in that context, either.

We can debate Damore's points endlessly. But at the end of the day plenty of women still suffer old-school sex discrimination across the board. As that disappears, I'm pretty confident we'll have less reason to discuss more abstract discrimination issues.

Basically, if you disagree with some of the approaches utilized by the left for addressing discrimination (and there's plenty that reasonable people could disagree with), then the most constructive reaction is to redirect the discussion to more concrete, historical manifestations of discrimination.

Most ideologies on the right and left are constructed of poor equivocations and metaphors. And the so-called culture war is just an endless escalation in the sophistication and depth of equivocation and metaphor.

It's like in programming. Most debate is pointless bike shedding once the discussion is divorced from a reproducible bug or well-articulated pain points. Which isn't to mean if it's not clearly reproducible that a problem can't exist; just that if the problem isn't yet empirically grounded you can't have productive discourse. Equivocation rarely helps in this regard. If you have to resort to equivocation you've all but conceded that the problem lacks the necessary qualities which make it amenable to solving.

If you can't have productive discourse, then there are better ways to spend your time. There's no dearth of reproducible bugs or well-articulated pain points, in programming or in society. And people are always free to put in the hard work of empirically grounding a debate. Unfortunately, discrimination research is inherently tendentious because of the nature of the problem, which compounds all the other shortcomings of economic, sociologic, and psychological methodologies. But it's not impossible and we should encourage people to take up the challenge. Part of that encouragement is to criticize pointless equivocations; to make it clear that they're not an acceptable substitute.


The USSR fell in 1991, the guy who went to prison in 1990s likely went there for a regular crime. Most political prisoners were released in late 80s (ones who left in 90s were people who participated in various wars of 1980s-1990s or were politicians charged with regular crimes). The whole arrest at night, the family arrested too, a trial by three ("Troika") and 10 years of camps/execution is from the Collectivization and the various Purges of 1930s.

In the USSR after the War, if you merely criticized the Party line (e.g. say "We are a Communist country but the Proletariat is rarely consulted by the Party, I think the Party has to pay more attention what the working class people think.") you'd get the treatment ardit33 described. You would not get arrested, you would not be thrown in prison, you'd just get, what they called "wolf's ticket" - a record of "anti-soviet agitation" and then you would not be able to get any decent job, ever. People worked as janitors or threw coal in the communal central heating. Usually a single case of doubting was not enough, you'd get a talking first (quite unlike Google, it seems). Only people who directly opposed the Party were repressed with prison/mental institution.


AFAIU, persecution of fundamentalist religious sects has never stopped in Russia; it preceded and succeeded the USSR. It might not often have the same imprimatur of the state as more notorious persecutions, but there's plenty of evidence that it has occurred up until this day. For example, this year there's been a crackdown on Jehovah's Witnesses, though I don't know if it's been nearly as severe as previous crackdowns. I don't care to debate whether these sects deserve to be let alone. My point is merely that the Russian police state can be exceptionally harsh. You can still find people and groups systematically traumatized by it; people and groups whose real experiences expose the ridiculousness of American conservative equivocations regarding persecution. The closest equivocation one could maybe reasonably make is to how the American state treats its black populations, but it'd still be a tenuous comparison. And even that disregards that the Soviet gulags were on another level entirely.

I can't know for sure whether my old co-worker was telling the truth. But there was plenty of circumstantial evidence that aligned well with the story. And while I don't know the precise timeline, it's not necessarily relevant.


I am not aware of anybody sent to prison for religious beliefs in Russia. I know one guy who had been in the USSR but he had been freed in late 80s. Got any links?


I was born in communist Eastern Europe and grew up in the years immediately afterwards. What's your point.

It's still not even remotely similar.


You're right of course, but in particular the "Goolag" thing was pretty ridiculous.


I have the same feeling, regardless of whether his claim makes any sense or not, "meme-fying" the company and the underlying subject only makes his argument less substantial IMO.


you underestimate the power of memes


I think they're arguing about rationality, not populist effectiveness.


But religious freedom, being applied as the ability to employ, be employed, or to provide service without fear of religious violation or indignity, is something American conservatives are arguing for at the moment, and that includes the ability to fire or not serve homosexuals.

How else am I supposed to create a Christian establishment, such as school for K-12 children? What if it's part of my wholesome Christian values and worldview to create a healthy environment where children can learn, free of homosexual influence?


BTW I feel the same about calling Trump a "Nazi". For people whose family members have been killed by the Nazi, it sounds like mockery.


I agree, calling Trump a Nazi is both egregious and it also lessens any coherent argument about similarities between the populism of Trump's base and the beginnings of the Nazi party (not to imply too much similarity, but there is some). The Nazi label should not be trotted out without cause, but should be called into intelligent discussion where warranted. It seems we currently vacillate between using it too easily and too conservatively (Godwin's law).

The real problem is that both those extremes contribute to a system in which we believe a similar thing could never happen again by viewing them and their actions as distinct from us and what we are capable of, when there is no distinction. Closely related to the maxim that those that do not know history are doomed to repeat it is that those that view themselves as distinct from history are also doomed to repeat it. :/


> (Godwin's law)

Does anyone actually know what Godwin's Law says these days? I rarely see anyone mentioning it correctly.

Also Mr Godwin himself has come out and said "Call them Nazis" which somewhat voids the whole "Ooh, Godwin" nonsense.


Well, I think it was never meant to stop people from calling out real parallels, just those egregious uses where it was inappropriate and used only for shock value.

Even the more benign uses of the term probably have some eroding effect on its potency, even if small. "grammar nazi" comes to mind. People sometimes refer to themselves that way somewhat affectionately. We don't see people using "pedophile" the same way. I can't say I think Godwin's original complaint was wrong.


It was never meant to stop or do anything because it was an observation about probability - much like Benford's Law is an observation about the frequency of digits but doesn't tell you anything about a particular one. (Clumsy analogy but hopefully makes sense.)


Man everyone's a victim nowadays?


I have no problem with it. It spreads awareness about the atrocities of communists. People get compared to Nazis all the time, because Nazi=bad is something that almost everyone agrees on. Meanwhile there are a lot of unironic communists in tech circles and everyone's okay with it. So next time you compare somebody to Hitler, consider using Stalin instead.


> so let's please not pretend it is...

Was anyone actually pretending that it is?

There's a thing called hyperbole and it works really well when you take your fight to the media.


His take still seems a little tone deaf and defensive (e.g., repeated use of "echo chamber"). But he hits the nail on the head of why Google fired him:

  ... they really couldn't do otherwise.
No matter what you think about the memo, Google had absolutely no option but to fire Mr. Damore once this blew up into a firestorm (internally and externally).


They could've had a spine and supported intelligent discourse. Seems like a leadership problem.

"At Google, just as we strive for a diverse workforce, we also encourage the free flow of ideas and along with that, support the vigorous discussion around those ideas. We don't comment on specific HR issues." (EDIT: Minor grammar edits for my faux PR statement)

And that would've been the end of it, had they had the fortitude to ignore the witch hunt.


Except, as has been pretty well documented elsewhere, it was not intelligent discourse. Whatever productive content may have been present, it was overwhelmed by the senseless repetition of long-debunked stereotypical nonsense.

Endlessly, emphatically parroting what is ultimately discriminatory nonsense is an aggressive action against others, not "just an opinion". E.g. [1], and numerous other examples. My favorite, which I'm having trouble digging up the citation for, is a recent-ish study that compared test performance of various minority/gender groups based on social anxiety measures (e.g. "girls aren't good at math")... and found that it was literally possible to turn this difference on and off like a switch based on triggering vs disarming these anxieties as part of the test setup. This literally flies the in face of the schoolyard "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" mantra so ingrained in US culture. It turns out, we have increasingly good scientific evidence that humans just don't work that way.

Let's be clear about that: being a toxic jerk to {insert out-group here} actively harms those people, and can directly harm their performance orthogonally to their actual potential capabilities. "Yeah, I'm meritocratic in footraces, but only when I can stick thorns in my competitors' shoes."

[1] https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/03/19/negative-effects-of...


> a recent-ish study that compared test performance of various minority/gender groups...

You are referring to the idea of "stereotype threat" which, alas, did not survive the replication crisis.

Quote "After correcting for publication bias, this literature shows very little evidence that stereotype threat has a notable and practically significant effect on women’s math performance (Flore & Wicherts, 2014)."

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

Direct study link: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022440514...


> it was overwhelmed by the senseless repetition of long-debunked stereotypical nonsense.

This is why what Damore did is important and why having the discussion is important. People like you either mistakenly believe this or are being deliberately manipulative and misleading by claiming the science is settled. In fact, the science is not settled, and if anything it is leaning in Damore's favor. That you and people like you want to believe one thing very much is not a substitute for the actual truth to the rest of us, and never will be.


>if anything it is leaning in Damore's favor.

This isn't true.


Sure it is, and a number of scientists in the relevant fields have spoken up and said so. Here's a start for you: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/no-the-google-manife...


You know, every single person on the internet that I've seen argue that the science is solid in the Google memo point to this article in The Globe and Mail. It's bizarre.

I've tried to toe the line and not get into the argument as much as I can because, as evidenced by the previous HN thread [1], it's just two sides yelling past each. Some are citing scientific papers stating they are correct (which a single paper does not make), others are arguing based on remembering other scientific papers and virtually no one seems to be an expert but are all commenting as such.

What I would like to point out is the article in question isn't very well sourced. It points to "four - academic studies" [2] [3] [4] [5] but none of those are actual studies; they're all replies to a single study (Sex beyond the genitalia: The human brain mosaic [6]) and none include a methodology to how they came to their reply conclusion as the full text barely contains anything additional to the extract. Now I'm not writing them off as wrong but those are being misrepresented as studies without having the proper information a study or research paper would require. Unless it's available elsewhere? It's unclear at least to me and appears, again to me, as very misleading.

Ultimately there is a boat load of research out there. Some of it is going to support the Google memo writing. Some of it will not. Some of it can be used to represent both sides of the argument. I think a better article, should one exist, should be used to defect your viewpoint should you side with the Google memo. Much of science requires a consensus and rock solid testing methodologies and I'm just not seeing that sourced in the article.

Again, I am not an expert but this is my impression from this article. Feel free to make any corrections to my statement :)

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14952787

[2] http://www.pnas.org/content/113/14/E1968.extract

[3] http://www.pnas.org/content/113/14/E1971.extract

[4] http://www.pnas.org/content/113/14/E1966.extract

[5] http://www.pnas.org/content/113/14/E1965.full.pdf

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4687544/


That article is circulated because it showed up here and, unlike a lot of the blogspam, the author has the credentials to have an informed opinion about the current research. Here's another one, but from a Psychologist rather than a neurologist.

https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/08/07/contra-grant-on-exagge...


> the author has the credentials to have an informed opinion about the current research

If you say so. I'm not an expert but as I wrote in my comment it appears either terribly sourced or the author equates replies to research as full blown studies.

> Here's another one, but from a Psychologist rather than a neurologist.

This one, as far as I can tell, mostly ignores much of the critical feedback that I've seen so far. Again, I'm not an expert but I'm surprised it doesn't call this out explicitly and in greater detail if the critics are wrong. Like, it has some small references to it but not a lot of direct discussion around it.

Not that all of the critical articles are better in terms of sources, etc I just haven't seen any of the articles in support of the memo be very well sourced or respond to much of the criticism directly.



What's funny about that link is that when she refers to the scientific claims she mostly seems to agree that they are well founded. Apart from that she seems to reading a lot of stuff into the memo that Damore probably wouldn't agree is there, and getting offended. I.e. he is a racist/sexist/alt-right bigot.


You mean she agrees that there are differences between men and women? Sure, most people do. But she doesn't agree that there is a basis for the idea that men would make better programmers than women because of something at the biological or genetic level, which is really the contention around Damore's memo.

>Apart from that she seems to reading a lot of stuff into the memo that Damore probably wouldn't agree is there, i.e. he is a racist/sexist/alt-right bigot.

Well his first interview was with Stefan Molyneux and he's done another with Jordan Peterson. I'm assuming Mike Cernovich and Lauren Southern are next? Come on. The thing about writing a dogwhistling document like his memo is you have to keep your true beliefs secret. By running straight to some of the darlings of the alt-right he's exposed himself a bit and his dogwhistles become clear as exactly that.


>men would make better programmers than women because of something at the biological or genetic level, which is really the contention around Damore's memo.

Where does he say this?

As for the interviewers, so what? Either the claims are supported by the facts or not, who's agenda is served by those facts is an entirely separate issue.


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

The "and abilities" part is the important bit because it's where he makes a logical leap. So here's what I'm going to ask of you as someone who seems to like Damore's document and likes the scientific process behind it. Can you find me scientific evidence that men are biologically predisposed to have greater tech abilities?


I'm not sure what Damore is referring to in that specific quote, but there is evidence of relevant differences, especially if you're talking about recruitment numbers for a company like Google:

"A 2005 study by Ian Deary, Paul Irwing, Geoff Der, and Timothy Bates, focusing on the ASVAB showed a significantly higher variance in male scores, resulting in more than twice as many men as women scoring in the top 2%"

..."the study indicated that, while boys and girls performed similarly on average, boys were over-represented among the very best performers as well as among the very worst."

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


Except that same wikipedia article has a whole huge section titled Researchers in favor of no sex differences or inconclusive consensus and also includes this sentence: "The current literature on sex differences produced inconsistent results depending on the type of testing used." It sorta seems like you read until you found a sentence you liked and then didn't go any further... It's not a settled issue at all AND the ASVAB study you're picking doesn't actually connect anything to a biological basis. This is why Damore's paper is bad and why I'm sad that the community is taking it seriously as a scientific source. Some of his statements are cited but plenty aren't and because a fair amount of the people reading it already agree with him, Damore's leaps of logic don't pop out to them. It's not a good paper and it's not very scientific.


Admitting the science isn't settled is enough for me, I'm all for more open discussion on it, and I think that's what Damore was after too.


Has there ever been an independent study of how well ASVAB results correlate to later professional success in tech?

I took the ASVAB as a teen, and I was relentlessly pursued by military recruiters for years afterward.


> when she refers to the scientific claims she mostly seems to agree that they are well founded.

What part of this answer makes you say that? She is quoting directly from the paper a bunch of times, offering refutations, and providing sources. I agree that she is reading into the memo. I don't agree that she is agreeing with the science -- she's spent thousands of words doing the exact opposite.


Yes, yes yes, the science is settled (tm), after all 97% of scientists agree. And the case is closed. Yupper.


The willful misrepresentation of the memo is one of the reasons he got more support than usual. Most people who argued on the scientific basis mostly concurred and a few disagreed. There is nothing "overly debunked".


> senseless repetition of long-debunked stereotypical nonsense

Could you provide some references for this claim? Because Damore did.


Even if what Damore wrote was "long-debunked", it's the sort of thing that a pretty big chunk of the U.S. population believes to be more-or-less accurate. Lots of people are wrong about things and don't know it. Them being wrong does not justify an attempt to burn them at the stake; it justifies an attempt to calmly yet firmly explain the errors in the subjects' beliefs (and then maybe burn them at the stake - figuratively, plesse, not literally - if they choose to ignore the counterevidence).

Having read the memo, I rather strongly disagree with the "toxic jerk" characterization you've given. Yammering fool, sure, but not (deliberately) malicious.


You know what is not intelligent discourse? Equating what was said in the memo as harassment by citing this:

> They asked 114 undergraduate female students to watch a video and imagine themselves as bystanders to a situation where a man made either a sexist catcall remark (“Hey Kelly, your boobs look great in that shirt!”) at another woman or simply greeted her (“Hey Kelly, what’s up?”).

Maybe you could provide a citation instead for this?

> the senseless repetition of long-debunked stereotypical nonsense.


Especially that few scientists are on record saying that the memo is solid on science, and the quoted research is not only not debunked, but also not even controversial in sociological circles.


> pretty well documented elsewhere

In a strange place no one can seem to name.. funny how the existence of this "documentation" is so often assumed, but not so often referenced..


> They could've had a spine and supported intelligent discourse. Seems like a leadership problem.

But that's not the job of the people involved, or if you believe it is their job, only tangentially and in a way that might help in the long run.

When you have a major PR problem on your hands and you're a public company, you make it go away before it can adversely affect the stock. That's the the job of the highest executives, and that's what will be delegated to those responsible for fixing it. Would we all be better off with reasoned discourse? Probably. Would Google benefit from being the company to push it? Possibly, but I give that slim odds. The responsible thing to do for your job is to fix the problem that is immediately threatening the company.

Google isn't the martyr you've been looking for.


>The responsible thing to do for your job is to fix the problem that is immediately threatening the company.

The problem is double talk. They pretend that they want open discussion and provide an internal forum for it, but when someone like Damore takes them up on it they see it as a problem. If you don't want controversy don't pretend that you do.


Do you think firing him made the problem go away? It looks like it made things worse.


They would have faced backlash either way, it is hard to say.


I hope they're willing to fire LGBTQ workers (or workers who are pro choice, or any other political third rail) when the right rages just as hard, if they're not a martyr and simply a business with no moral compass. If they're not prepared to perform those actions, they're picking sides, and should be prepared for the consequences.


> I hope they're willing to fire LGBTQ workers

This isn't about firing people with specific attributes, it's about firing people that have become associated with a particular cause publicly and drawn the company into that same discussion, whether purposefully or on accident. If enough of their workforce and enough of the public shared the opinion that LGBTQ workers should not be hired, and the company policy followed that, and someone became prominent in that discussion, I expect they would do the same.

I'm not saying I think this is how the world should work and it's the best situation, I'm saying our current mix social, political and economic systems make this the likely (but not required) outcome. It often takes a martyr to change that. We venerate those who make that sacrifice, but let's not pretend it's easy for them, or that everyone should make that choice all the time (depending on how egregious the offense being protested is).

> if they're not a martyr and simply a business with no moral compass.

There's a difference between no moral compass and picking your battles. Winning a war doesn't always require rushing the enemy with whatever is in hand immediately when sighted. You can call a strategic retreat cowardly all you want, but if it's part of a larger strategy it may not be indicative of the competency of the people involved or the future (not that Google's actions necessarily should be viewed in that light, I'm just pointing out that this is but one action and should not define them entirely).


Well, the government already said you can be fired for being queer: https://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2017/08/f.... I feel like outrage from the right for firing someone for something they can actually choose (political ideology) would be intensely hypocritical.


LGBTQ is a status, not a political stance. There are LGBTQ people of all political stripes


> not a political stance

Let the identification and firing of radical progressives (or even moderate progressives!) begin. Things must get worse before they will get better; otherwise, everyone will continue to seek out ways to forward their agenda in legal yet immoral ways.

If proponents of the firing encourage the use of at-will employment for the firing, I'll support its use against other activists with opposite leanings. Otherwise, this silicon valley witch hunt routine will never end.


If an LGBTQ employee publishes a 10-page diatribe about how straights are biologically less suited to working at Google, they'd have been fired too.

He wasn't fired because he was a conservative, and he wasn't fired because of his opinions. He was fired because he made hostile remarks about the majority of his co-workers that legally resulted in a hostile work environment under US law.


Except he didn't; what you describe is the media misrepresentation of the original memo.


No, it's how I and more than a dozen other people I talked to who read the memo, from front to back, in great detail, all interpreted it.

That's the thing about words: if you're not precise, they can be interpreted differently from how you intended them.


> dozen other people I talked to

That's just like the Pauline Kael apprx-quote about how "no one she knew voted Nixon - how could he possibly win?". IOW, you are already in an echo chamber.


What in your opinion, is a proper interpretation or representation of the original memo?


That the ratio of women:men in tech may never reach 1:1 even if historical biases against women are resolved (he lists some possible reasons). Therefore efforts by Google and others to improve this ratio to 1:1 at all costs can be counterproductive and discriminatory in and of themselves and should be re-examined.

That was my interpretation at least.


He didn't though. He didn't say that at all. He simply said that LESS women are interested in this field than men. He didn't say NO women were qualified, or anything close to it. He said aiming for 50/50 might not be the best idea, because there simply might not be that many women interested.


What side is Google picking again?


Are you familiar with the phrase, "false equivalency"?


I'm amiable enough to be polite and say "you're entitled to your opinion".


As the other person said, that's a false equivalency. This memo directly affected the workplace environment by saying one group of people had less aptitude for working there. The examples you give are just groups who are seeking certain rights or equality in society have nothing to do with the workplace.


AFAIK, he didn't claim one group of people had less aptitude for working there. Could you cite where exactly he said that?


No he didn't. He said that one group of people had less desire to work there, and trying for 50/50 might not make sense. I went to a relatively small school, but there were 0 women who majored in computer science in the 4 years I was there. We certainly didn't reject anyone, there just wasn't 1 single person interested in making that their major. It's not unreasonable to suggest that computer science is a field that may not be exactly 50/50 in the type of people who want to do it.

Coal miners, fire(persons?), nurses, elementary school teachers and many many other fields are nowhere near 50/50. There are clear differences in genders and what they want out of life. He didn't in any way say the there are no women that can be good at this job. He simply pointed out that it's possible it might not be 50/50. maybe it's 60/40 or 70/30 and if you just try to hit a certain number you might not always be getting the best candidate for the position.

As a whole, if the tech industry was forced to be 50/50 tomorrow, we'd have to fire like 80% of the workforce. There simply aren't enough women interested in the field and qualified to do it right now. If you want to work towards having more women in tech, you have to start much sooner, at say the elementary and junior high age. Promote STEM more to them at those ages and maybe in 20-30 years we can be closer to 50/50. But it isn't happening tomorrow just because people want to change hiring practices. I hope that my daughter is interested in it when she grows up, and I certainly don't want her to be discriminated against, but saying it might not be 50/50 because different genders enjoy different things isn't in fact discrimination.


Then I'd ask: why do women not enjoy tech? Why did your college have zero women? Do you think it's biological? Cultural?


Ask average women - those not in tech.


> They could've had a spine and supported intelligent discourse. Seems like a leadership problem.

That's not really how things work in companies. In a University? Sure. In a company that doesn't really make sense and is far too idealistic.

Regardless of whether you support the contents of the memo or not, he created a disruption within the company. A disruption that made some feel alienated and others vindicated. This is not where you have any type of discourse. This is a simple "fire the person disrupting business".


isnt disruption the whole point of Silicon Valley?

Capitulating due to media pressure, if that is the reason, is extremely weak leadership and only made the problem worse.


> isnt disruption the whole point of Silicon Valley?

I could stand next to your desk and smash two pots together thus disrupting your work; surely you see how disruption of a market is different than disrupting co-workers...

Simply because the word "disruption" can be used in a positive context to describe aspects of Silicon Valley doesn't mean it's always positive regardless of context.

> Capitulating due to media pressure, if that is the reason, is extremely weak leadership and only made the problem worse.

This was never stated as the reason as far as I can tell.


It would've been a week of impotent whiny tweets, then the outrage machine would've moved on to the next faux issue. What kind of insane world do we live in where leaders are too cowardly to withstand mean internet comments? Now they've got a lawsuit on their hands (which will surely open the floodgates) and an anti-science stigma that will stick with them for years.


To clarify: you are aware that, prior to the memo, Google already a lawsuit on their hands from the Department of Labor with regards to alleged gender discrimination?


And let's not forget their participation in at least one de facto cartel to suppress salaries.

https://phys.org/news/2015-01-apple-google-settlement-high-t...


Don't forget to mention Google wouldn't hand over the data the Department of Labor demanded.


This is what really gets me and confuses me.

Google is accused of a "left wing bias" by many defenders of the manifesto and the writer himself. And yet, they don't want to turn over information that they're fairly hiring, firing and paying wages fairly?

How is being sly and secretive about your hiring practices and wage information "left wing"? Hardly seems consistent with the idea of supporting worker rights.

So how does Google (not to mention, it is a capitalist organisation) have a "left wing bias", as they say?

I see no evidence for it.


Are you serious? This is exactly the criticism leveled against the left. They've abandoned free speech, they judge people based on race, they've ignored working class voters in favor of coastal elites, yet they keep telling themselves they're "liberal."


I suppose I have a different idea of what 'left' means, then. For me, 'left' is at least strong social democracy and preferably [democratic] Socialism, Communism and anarchism. Not the US Democratic Party.


> Google is accused of a "left wing bias" by many defenders of the manifesto and the writer himself. And yet, they don't want to turn over information that they're fairly hiring, firing and paying wages fairly?

Then Google should cough up the data. But they won't, because they're hiding malfeasance.


Setting this particular issue aside, this really is a weird phenomenon that I don't quite understand, yet. So, a lot of people are condemning you on Twitter? I understand that as humans we don't like that feeling, but if you don't react to it nothing happens.

Why don't more people take that path?


Pick a topic that's really, really important to you. Let's say it's fishing.

You're known as someone who fishes a lot in your small circle on Twitter. Suddenly someone steps in and says "Fishing is stupid. Screw you, fishing people!". Maybe one of your followers explicitly tags you in it to bring it to your attention.

Ignoring it is the right thing to do but could you? You probably could since my example is extremely contrived but in general I gotta admit sometimes it's difficult to ignore something that's right in front of me that I staunchly disagree with. I try but I'm human and I fail at it sometimes. Other times if I don't respond others feel like I'm letting them down.

I hate Twitter. I also enjoy it at times, too, which keeps me on it but I really do hate it the majority of the time.


I guess a boycott could happen, or employees might get emboldened to quit or sue. Google would get lumped in with Uber and others accused of being brogrammer haven.


Dude, this is a massive, for-profit corporation, not some leafy liberal arts campus. Their cultures and priorities may align to a degree, but there are some fundamental differences between them in terms of whose interests they serve, how those interests are prioritized, and the way conflicts are resolved (something Damore discovered the hard way).


In this case, google is -both- a for-profit corporation AND some leafy liberal arts campus.


What intelligent discourse could there be had? Damore's essay is heavily premised on Google's current policies being illogical, unethical, and even illegal, and other statements of apparently self evident fact. The memo is basically a giant prompt of, "Have you stopped beating your mother?" In which engaging in a dialog forces you to implicitly acknowledge something that is a total non sequitur.

I'll give an example: (sorry, unable to copy paste from tablet)

https://medium.com/@Cernovich/full-james-damore-memo-uncenso...

Under the subheading of Non-discriminatory ways to reduce the gender gap, his first example refers to how "Women on average show a higher interest in people and men in things". That's one of the biological facts he cited and I'll accept it as true for the sake of brevity.

Damore then points out that this has a silver lining, because if programming is made more collaborative, then women can naturally benefit. OK, nothing objectionable about that, I believe some companies incorporate pair programming in their recruiting and onboarding.

And then he drops the other shoe: "unfortunately there may be limits to how people-oriented certain roles a Google can be"

What the hell does that even mean? What exactly are these "certain roles" that Damore is referring to? How can this kind of assertion lead to intellectual and open debate when Damore's argument: there exists jobs are just not suited/optimal for women. I'm completely willing to meet him where he's at on biological gender differences, but Damore's memo just does not invite discussion because he makes self-evident assertions and avoids specific detail or proof that he had really looked into things.

Because after claiming that there Google jobs too technical for women's people-preferences, a Damore randomly shits on Google's female coding classes. Because there are jobs for which there's a ceiling to the effectiveness of women's people-skill..."we shouldn't deceive ourselves or students into thinking otherwise"

Does anyone have context for this? What is Google deceiving itself about? Why are students involoved? Darmore's phrasing is so sloppy and lacking in details that he leaves things open to the imagination. I'm imagining that there was an incident at Google in which a woman was diversity-promoted into a highly technical job that had been designated for men. This woman believed her people-skills would make up for her technical weakness but she ended up causing killing her entire department in a fiery explosion.

The cherry on top is Damore stating: "(some of our programs getting female students into coding might be doing this)"

Again, what the hell is he talking about? What are the Googl coding classes doing, tying girls to chairs until they master recursion? Is it an open secret that these coding programs are horrible, or has Damore actually observed classes. Can he describe an example of when a Google teacher forced coding lessons on a girl who was clearly not born to do it?

A charitable reading of what I quoted would argue that Damore believes: *as a population, women will fail to be the best they can be as programmers. Because only so much that work would benefit from women's people skills. Google has been in denial to the truth, to the point that Google's coding schools are deluding female students about learning to code.

There's a lot that bothers me about this paragraph on women's people-skills and how those skills do and don't apply to Googl's work. I'll just ask about this: why does a Damore think that Google is "deluding" itself with its female coding classes? Is the curriculum bad? Does the curriculum aspire (in vain) to teach the skills and work that Damore thinks aren't optimal for women?


> How can this kind of assertion lead to intellectual and open debate when Damore's argument: there exists jobs are just not suited/optimal for women.

Truly: Is there any valid way to say anything about women in general, at a macro level, that won't be twisted as explicitly meaning all women like has been done here?

Like, if one suggestion were to start serving salads at the company cafeteria because that is likely to appeal more to women, would this prompt claims that all women only like salads, or that women aren't suitable for eating burgers?

We can discuss how to make a restaurant appeal more to women, or an apartment building, or a car. And we can do it without jumping down each other's throats, because we all acknowledge we're not talking about all women--we're targeting general preferences to apply to a general audience. Why is it that the same can't be acknowledged for software engineering or leadership roles?


First of all, I acknowledge that Damore premises his argument on populations and distributions. My example here was to point out that he jumps into assertions that make no specific reference to populations. In his criticism of Google's initiative to teach coding to females (students, employees), Damore says:

> "Unfortunately, there maybe 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)."

How does population distributions apply here? Is Google attempting to push coding (and at what sophistication) onto far more women than is statistically sound? I had heard that Google had such classes, but that their enrollment was self-selecting and seemingly not at a scale that included the majority of girls/women. So what is the delusionary practice that Damore refers to?

I'm genuinely interested in the answers to these specific (albeit) minor questions. But I brought this up as one aggravating example of how open, intellectually honest discussion is difficult when the claims are unspecific and unsupported.


> How does population distributions apply here?

To apply my previous metaphor: We shouldn't be trying to get more women to like burgers. We should make the food we serve appeal more to women.

To step out of the metaphor: Perhaps we shouldn't be having software engineering roles that put so much emphasis on the parts that don't seem to appeal to women (generally) as much. We might have more success modifying the roles so that they appeal more to women (generally).

He's also acknowledging that some roles might inherently have facets that appeal more to men in a way that can't be easily changed. Just like a role that's inherently very social and perhaps deals heavily with small children might be difficult to make appeal more to men (generally). That in no way implies men aren't suited to be kindergarten teachers, or that the men who are kindergarten teachers aren't good at it. It just means trying to make it more competitive or take the focus off the interaction with the children isn't likely to work well.

> I'm genuinely interested in the answers to these specific (albeit) minor questions. But I brought this up as one aggravating example of how open, intellectually honest discussion is difficult when the claims are unspecific and unsupported.

Respectfully: It's difficult when any opposing claim is assumed to be sexist. Like I said, it's in fact very easy to have an intellectually honest discussion about how to make a restaurant, car, or apartment building appeal more to women--even without explicit scientific studies backing up every statement!

It is because people are choosing to infer meaning that wasn't there in order to be offended and virtue signal that it is difficult to have this discussion.


Certainement qui est en droit de vous rendre absurde est en droit de vous rendre injuste.


> They could've had a spine and supported intelligent discourse. Seems like a leadership problem.

Why? What use is intelligent discourse to the work that Google does?


Google had a choice here. Piss off people who support intelligent discourse, or piss off the other set of people.

Personally for me I would choose to piss off the group who tends not to escalate things irrationally and let emotion drive the entire agenda until the bloody end. Not sure which group Google chose.


Which group is which? What's the group that doesn't tend to escalate things irrationally?


I'm not sure. I feel I am unable to elaborate because there are people on HN who support political correctness over intelligent discourse.


I disagree with your first sentiment... His take, is just that, his take. He did his own research and came to his own conclusions. They might have been flawed, but they were his own. He very well could have changed his mind, had anyone presented more convincing evidence that would lead to a different conclusion. That didn't even appear to be an option, though, and I think that is the more threatening issue.


It's remarkable how much of an uproar and distraction one fairly low level employee can cause.

Reminds me of an old Napoleon quote: "whoever is stupid and industrious must be got rid of, for he is too dangerous." This individual conducted cursory research while thinking he was conducting in-depth research.

I fear his "echo chamber" argument will be construed to damage the diversity in tech movement.


Context is important. Maybe he can give his take on Hacker News and no one will care. But he can't say whatever he likes at work. Every company has some legal obligations. No sex discrimination is one of them.

Even if you think his take is not sex discrimination, that is a big topic in Silicon Valley right now. So to write something like this right now just says "hey everybody, I'm in my own world. I have no social intelligence, and I don't pay attention to what's going on out there."


> Context is important. Maybe he can give his take on Hacker News and no one will care.

I wouldn't even go that far. I work for a tech company and am extra careful, even outside of work — on public forums, talking about my company or even controversial issues regarding tech in general because someone might mistakenly believe I am speaking as a representative of said company. It just wouldn't be professional.


Yeah I agree, even posting on HN is fairly unprofessional. Afaik when you join certain corporations like Apple they limit what you can do online, because they don't want your comments associated with their company. Maybe Google is nice enough to not do that, but it is not uncommon.

So I'm surprised to see comments like this parent comment, saying "he should be free to say what he wants". No, that's just not how it works.


  Upper management tried to placate this surge of outrage by 
  shaming me and misrepresenting my document, but they 
  couldn’t really do otherwise: The mob would have set upon 
  anyone who openly agreed with me or even tolerated my views.


Actually, companies mostly exist to get work done and CA is an at will state. If you get in the way of getting work done then you likely will get fired. The document was readable by anyone internally and eventually everyone externally. So there was no misrepresentation.


Yes, there was misrepresentation.

Google's CEO said: “To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not O.K.”

He said no such thing. This is a cruel smear. Google, including its CEO and VP of Diversity & Newspeak, acted like thugs.

And no, this has nothing to do with at-will employment. It has to do with hypocrisy. Google claimed they be open and tolerant, and then they proceeded to directly contradict that ethos by firing Demore and viciously lying about him on the way out the door.


From the paper:

At Google, we’re regularly told that implicit (unconscious) and explicit biases are holding women back in tech and leadership. 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. On average, men and women biologically differ in many ways. These differences aren’t just socially constructed because: ● They’re universal across human cultures ● They often have clear biological causes and links to prenatal testosterone ● Biological males that were castrated at birth and raised as females often still identify and act like males ● The underlying traits are highly heritable ● They’re exactly what we would predict from an evolutionary psychology perspective Note, I’m not saying that all men differ from all women in the following ways or that these differences are “just.” I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership.

I agree that he doesn't use the term "biologically suited" anywhere. I would instead say that he suggested: "men and women have biological differences, and those differences partially explain why where are fewer women in tech". Do you agree with that?


>Women, on average, have more:

>Openness directed towards feelings and aesthetics rather than ideas. Women generally also have a stronger interest in people rather than things, relative to men (also interpreted as empathizing vs. systemizing).

>These two differences in part explain why women relatively prefer jobs in social or artistic areas. More men may like coding because it requires systemizing and even within SWEs, comparatively more women work on front end, which deals with both people and aesthetics.

...

>Women on average are more prone to anxiety. Make tech and leadership less stressful. Google already partly does this with its many stress reduction courses and benefits."

I don't know how you can come away from reading his memo and not arrive at the conclusion he thinks men and women are different and those differences make them less suited to the Google workplace. His solution is that diversity efforts need to focus not just on evolving recruiting/training but the way work is structured and you can absolutely argue that's not a super-evil-misogynistic thing to say. But that's very different than pretending he didn't say women, on average, aren't well suited to the current environment.


The intentional blurring of the difference between "individuals" and "group averages" is out of control.

Here some quotes from the essay that underscore this distinction:

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

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


> Yes, there was misrepresentation. > Google's CEO said: “To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not O.K.”

Possible non bias causes of the gender gap in tech

...

On average, men and women biologically differ in many ways.

Work your rhetorical magic on that.


He says that if 10% of men and 8% of women are suitable for tech, and google hires unbiased from suitable people, then google should expect a 55:45 gender gap.

That doesn't mean that the female colleagues are unsuitable for tech, since they were exactly hired among people who were suitable.

He is also not saying that this explains the complete gender gap, just that there is no point in blindly aiming at 50:50 without considering research on the underlying distribution.

He may have the research wrong, but otherwise the point seems to stand?

EDIT: Of course, this argument only works for a binary 'suitable/not suitable' distinction. If 'tech talent' was said to be normal distributed, with men having a slightly higher expectation, it would follow that the average men above some cut was also better than the average woman above the same cut. So in that way he does attack his colleagues.


This is still misrepresenting. He said those gender-based tendencies lead men and women to prefer and be interested in different things. Preference and interest has nothing to do with "suitability".

To say that 100% of men and women are suitable to work in tech, but that maybe only 20-30% of the women would actually want to would be a more accurate representation of what he wrote.

It's hard to see what's sexist about suggesting women should work wherever they prefer to, rather than being told they should become software engineers.


That makes sense. My next question would be:

> He says that if 10% of men and 8% of women are suitable for tech

Why would a higher % of men be more suitable for tech? In the paper he suggests it is partly due to biological differences. Do you agree with that?


Depends on what you deem suitable. If you're aiming to get people who have a strong desire for exploring and creating systems then you'd likely end up with more people with Aspergic traits, a majority of which are male.


Easy. Imagine a company that hires only people at least 6'1'' tall (1.85 for us Europeans). The employees genders ratio would be skewed towards males. You could argue that there are biological differences that make the number of suitable female hires smaller, and you would be right. Does that make your female colleagues shorter? Not at all. They are and remain, as all other employees, at least 6'1''.


Actually this argument only works for binary treats. Like "tall" vs "short". If hired random people above 6'1", we would still expect that most women hired were only slightly above the cut, while the men were a bit further up.


Also most hired men would be only slightly above the cut, if I'm not wrong. In any case, I'd be happy enough of being above the cut, some people are never satisfied, really :).


Colleagues selected by Google already made the cut, so that's more predictive than gender?


No misrepresentation? Like Sundar Pichai and the media conveniently conflating neurosis with the completely unrelated theory of neuroticism? Search "Google memo neurosis" and see how many headlines contain "neurosis" when that word or concept was never referred to even once in the 10 pages.


Here's a direct quote from the "Personality Differences" section of the screed:

"Neuroticism (higher anxiety, lower stress tolerance).This may contribute to the higher levels of anxiety women report on Googlegeist and to the lower number of women in high stress jobs."

So yeah, it was referenced, specifically, explicitly, and used in direct support of the central argument that the preponderance of men in Google's ranks was biologically determined, meaning a number of Google's D&I initiatives were misguided, at odds with scientific consensus, and should be discontinued.


Neuroticism isn't a vague insult. It's a specific technical term in psychology and is one of the Big Five personality traits—https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroticism

People want Damore to have written a PhD level thesis for an internally circulated document but most haven't themselves done even a basic Wikipedia level research before bringing out the pitchforks.


I think he clarifies this. Two things are germane:

1. Google is "more than just a company." It is more like an old style company-town by now.

2. They are the gatekeepers of all information ever. Perhaps we should hold them to different standards, especially when it comes to opinions and ideologies?


I encourage folks to start surveilling Google employees in public who take part in civil disobedience for progressive issues, and demand they be fired. Companies exist to get work done, and CA is an at will state.

This won't get fixed ("its okay to fire someone if they don't align with my opinions") until everyone has had their proverbial nose bloodied.

Disclaimer: Progressive myself.


It sounds like you don't understand why he was fired. Hint: it wasn't because of his beliefs per se. It was more likely because of his repetition of gender stereotypes that impeded his ability to work effectively with his peers.


> It was more likely because of his repetition of gender stereotypes

I keep hearing this line parroted, but that's not how the situation played out, and you either are inadvertently or maliciously being disingenuous.

You're entitled to your opinion, of course, but there are facts, and those facts aren't congruent with the narrative.


How are the facts incongruent with the narrative you object to?

Generally people who support this guy focus on only the bits of fact the memo author relied on: they ignore the context and his application of alleged facts. That's what you did, for example.


> they ignore the context and his application of alleged facts.

You're projecting what isn't there. Again, part of the problem.


No, I'm not projecting anything.


It is ok to fire someone if they don't align with the company's opinions in CA. It really is.

Advertisement: Progressive myself.


To check the full extent of CA's reasoning: Is it ok to fire someone who fights for LGBT, black or women's rights, because it doesn't align with a company's opinions?


It is.


If they do it on company time perhaps, otherwise you have no case at all.


Your opinions and beliefs aren't just on company time, and that's what this gentleman was fired for; his beliefs after presenting research that accompanied his reasoning.

Gulag indeed!


That's the best part! You don't need a case because all employment is at-will.

Just enough dirt, or supposed dirt, to frame a person in a negative enough light that the company considers them persona non grata.


It's a real problem that you can't tell the difference between what people do on their own time outside of work, and what they do at work, in a work forum.

If JD had posted his diatribe online on his own personal blog, there'd be a lot of discussion about it but he'd probably still be employed at Google.

The problem is that he posted his diatribe on a company forum. Legally, he forced the company to fire him and refute his words or else be treated as adopting his words as their own. (And yes, that is how workplace harassment laws work in the US. If you have a problem with that, take it up with Congress, not Google.)


> The problem is that he posted his diatribe on a company forum. Legally, he forced the company to fire him and refute his words or else be treated as adopting his words as their own. (And yes, that is how workplace harassment laws work in the US. If you have a problem with that, take it up with Congress, not Google.)

So, correct me if I'm wrong: You're saying that any comments, writings, or ideas Google leaves up on their internal message boards is them providing implicit support or endorsement of said writings? Because it seems like if that's the case, obtaining the contents of those forums or message boards would provide ample work for a stable of employment lawyers for years.

Take note Google employees who are currently feeling fearful and "non-compliant" with Google's corporate stance. Maybe its time to sit down with an employment attorney who works on contingency while rolling through online forum posts.


Brendan Eich was fired for things he did outside of work. There are plenty of cases of request for retaliation on the professional environment for things done outside of the professional environment (for example, the OpalGate).


> If JD had posted his diatribe online on his own personal blog, there'd be a lot of discussion about it but he'd probably still be employed at Google

Not so sure:

"In addition, violations of this code outside these spaces may affect a person's ability to participate within them."

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=%22violations+of+this+code+outside...


Definitely a sign of weak leadership.


> Upper management tried to placate this surge of outrage by shaming me and misrepresenting my document...

You are James Damore?


I have seen this argument a lot, but there is no hard evidence there were not two options. IMHO firing him created worse PR for the company. They could have scolded him and it would have blown over within a month.


Spoken like a dude who hasn't listened to a single response from women.


Anecdotally (fwiw), my wife, whose profession requires a high level of expertise in biology, agrees with the memo writer


Can you elaborate on this? What part does she agree with? What are her thoughts on this Quora answer? https://www.quora.com/What-do-scientists-think-about-the-bio...


From her personal perspective and that of vicariously raising a daughter, she agrees that females tend to have certain seemingly innate preferences. However (like me) she does not believe that these preferences limit the potential of an individual, but they do provide insight into why the distribution of professions is skewed between the sexes for several fields (both in the favor of males or females depending on the field). Ill have to ask her opinion about the quora piece, but in my opinion there were a few red flags, and for a scientist the tone was not very objective and carried more than a hint of personal bias.

"That said, the argument in the document is, overall, despicable trash." < not scientific

"what appears to be a covert alt-right agenda" < this shows both a misunderstanding of the alt-right and the memo author, who hold two distinct systems of belief (in the author's memo IIRC he claims to be a classic liberal).

"based on extremely weak evidence" < prove it?

"completely fails to understand the current state of research" < prove it?

"makes repugnant attacks on compassion and empathy" < not scientific

"paradoxically insists that authoritarianism be treated as a valid moral dimension, whilst firmly rejecting any diversity-motivated strategy that might remotely approach it." < what?

etc


Makes sense, the answer was pretty hostile. I told my mom about the incident, and her first question was: "someone leaked the paper isn't that a privacy concern?" So I also have some anecdata about a woman not being concerned about the content. Overall though i think the paper is still pretty bad for a lot of reasons!


> ... Google had absolutely no option but to fire Mr. Damore once this blew up into a firestorm ...

That's a bold statement. Care to explain? Why were all other options unacceptable?


You're Google. In a tech environment where Uber is literally falling about because of anti-diversity issues, you have employees and the public beating down your doors because one guy wrote a memo.

Let's enumerate your options:

1. Support him and try to foster a dialog. Untenable: everyone's riled up, you can't be seen to support a sexist white male, and "let's talk about it" is naive.

2. Do nothing. Probably the worst option, as it makes you look spineless and wil piss both sides off.

3. Reprimand him. What does that buy you? You still piss off the alt-right, and the left thinks you're "forgiving" it by letting him off with a slap on the wrist.

4. Fire him. Literally all you can do. The left is happy. The right expects it. It optimizes happiness, shows decisive action, appeases the status quo.

There really isn't an option once it got this far.


Meaning that they knew he would sue, they knew he had a case, they know they might lose and they're more than fine with paying him to make the problem go away because a few grand in his pocket is a lot less than a long-term depreession in your monthly average user rate (i.e. potentially less ad engagement)


I've heard it was illegal for Google to keep him on. Here's what I've found online:

> Explicit protections against ... sexually hostile work environments, ... discrimination against unlawful sex stereotypes

From https://www.workplacefairness.org/sexual-gender-discriminati....

I would love to see a response from a lawyer. My understanding as a layperson is:

1. He is saying that biological differences explain why fewer women go into tech. That is not true, here is the best point-by-point analysis I've seen on it: https://www.quora.com/What-do-scientists-think-about-the-bio...

2. If you are a manager, and you ignore this analysis and agree that there is a biological difference, you can use that to explain why you aren't hiring/promoting women: it's not you, it's biology!


> That is not true, here is the best point-by-point analysis

But that is pretty crappy analysis, throwing your conclusion into doubt.

> it's not you, it's biology!

What if that is literally true somewhere in the causal chain? Is it good to put managers into terror at having to justify hiring Top Men?


Exactly. People just fail to think in the shoes of Google, the company. They don't gain anything by keeping him there. Getting rid of him and preparing for a few weeks of unwanted scrutiny is the best thing they can do.


I partially agree, had this been kept as an internal firestorm they could have some other solution(offer placement somewhere else within the company or another company), I have personally seen this happen elsewhere.


I think the key new information is this:

> When I first circulated the document about a month ago to our diversity groups and individuals at Google, there was no outcry or charge of misogyny. I engaged in reasoned discussion with some of my peers on these issues, but mostly I was ignored.

Apparently he published the memo about a month ago, and was only fired when it went viral externally.


The document seems to have moved in several stages. Distributed first narrowly, before eventually going viral to the entire company, and then spreading outward from there to the tech community as a whole before the media eventually picked up on it. It's hard to gauge what the internal opinion was on the issue without knowing how long it had actually been in circulation widely within Google. It's completely possible that it took management that long to catch wind of it.


It would be nice to have a complete timeline of the memo's life.

My guess of the sequence of events is:

1. First sent to the groups in charge of diversity: "I first circulated the document about a month ago to our diversity groups and individuals at Google"

2. Their reply was something along the line of "thanks, but no thanks": "mostly I was ignored"

3. He forwards the memo to a wider group? (My guess)

4. The memo goes viral inside and outside Google

5. Execs have no option but to fire him under the internal and external pressure

If my guess is correct it, I don't think Google execs were left with a choice. There is a time, place and way to discuss controversial topics.

If on the other hand (3) didn't happen or it was not done by Damore, then Google does seem to not be able to tolerate different opinions and does have a problem indeed.


Not really new information, that has been known for a few days now actually -at least for myself it has.


His presentation and the way he is representing himself appears to have hit an interesting cultural middle ground. He clearly has the alt right supporting him, but he also has scientists and professors from prestigious and relatively liberal colleges publicly supporting the science of his argument. Even commentators on NPR and the Times are supporting him and blaming google.

He does not come across as vengeful, just disappointed, appearing to have just genuinely wanted to have a conversation about what he say as flaw/injustice in the way Google approached hiring.

He is well spoken for the most part and decent looking, that in itself will give this story legs and the media will want to have him on.

Google really made a mistake in their approach to this. I believe that if they had just spoken to him and heard him out in the beginning after he submitted his memo to their diversity department this never would have happened. As another poster said, they could even have just paid him off and have had him sign an NDA to go away.

This is a monumental failure of PR on Googles part.


A monumental failure of PR would've been Google getting sued for gender discrimination if this guy was ever put in charge of a mixed-gender team and someone in the team thought they were being put at a disadvantage.

This guy clearly wanted to stir controversy, that's why the memo kept doing the rounds (he says he submitted it to several diversity groups inside of google himself.) I doubt he would've put up with having a "sensible discussion" with Google HR and let it go.


Google could easily have blacklisted him from any future management positions. This would have been essentially cost-free to them.


And employee evaluations? Everyone takes part in those.


Sure. Again, costs nothing.


Hmm, I have a different understanding of "costs nothing" and what is "easy" in this context.

It would've been a lot of work for HR to deal with this internally.

As it is, it is also a lot of work for them to deal with anyway.

In the long run, it's anyone's guess. Companies set and enforce their values how they please.


Have you ever worked at Google? No? Then maybe you shouldn't give your opinion on how much it could've costed for HR to cover this fuck up. Just my 2c.


Alternative title: why I will probably never get a job in a number of companies by stringing along political controversy.

In all seriousness, he knew the climate; made a prediction about that climate and chose to prove it correct - even string it along after being fired. It is almost a tragic irony that despite his biology background, he failed (or perhaps intended to be fired) to see the evolutionary case for collective altruistic punishment. In a data oriented climate like Google, there are other approaches that could of been taken to address the individualism-collectivism/relational scales by actually conducting and collection data from employees.

The principle prediction boils down to: it is likely that I will be fired for saying these things, here is some conclusions I came across, watch as the community proves me correct.

Based on this approach and his appearance in alt-right videos/blogs, I can only conclude he wanted to instigate chaos rather than have a data driven discourse by conducting surveys and opinions from collegues. As such, it is not unlike calling your friend up and prefacing an insult by saying: you are likely to be hostile from what I am about to say. That's not being fired for group think, that's being fired for instigating chaos.

If he had done alternative approachs, it is likely things may of been better received given that a number of people within and out of the community appear to have some lines of reasoning to agree with. Heck, even Sundar saw merit in discussing some points.


It's worth mentioning (if it fancies interest) that the individualism-collectivism and relational scales vary across cultures. Conclusions about these scales and overlaps as it relates to gender and culture in and of themselves fall prey to cultural bias.

"Culture, gender and self. A perspective from individualism-collectivism research" http://www.gelfand.umd.edu/Kashimaetal1995.pdf


Why should he have to?


He doesn't, but he made a prediction and was proved correct and thus was fired as a result of the nature and dynamics of altruistic punishment. I claim that his observations and claims about the diversity policy were merely a footnote in a much more pointed argument. That is to say, the diversity policy was not really what he intended to gain from this controversy but rather make it a point to focus on politics, which is toxic enough in this society. We don't need another talking head (left or right)


I didn't get that impression from reading it. There seemed a "political" (if you want to call it that, but really it was more just what a person thinks is right vs wrong and voicing that to try to convince people of it - ie altruistic) part of it - his motivation had a color of mild/repressed outrage, which showed up, but it was fairly broad and illustrated with lots of points/considerations about the diversity controversy. I don't think a person can downplay the 'politics' part just because its 'toxic' in society, because that is the whole point, impetus, and the only reason readers will pay attention to a thing.

Second, do you have some jumping off point for learning about 'collective altruistic punishment'? After seeing you use that term I want to learn more about it, but Google search doesn't show results that relate to the type of situation we're talking about here (blind punishment of a wellmeaning member who actually doesn't do anything wrong other than put the majority in a position they don't want to be in and possibly confront their own 'wrongthinking' or 'wrongdoing'). I really want to learn more about the concept if you have a link or some?


Some research will attribute group cooperation as a fundamental necessity in human progress (given that it is almost impossible that we got anywhere without specialization of tasks and an inherit need to cooperate between groups). Other research points to egalitarian motives that deal with equality between people. For instance, high earners at the expense of the lower earners. Perhaps the egalitarian motives have to due with concentration of power over others. That typically access to survival becomes increasingly limited as power is concentrated. These attributes are different than the evolutionary concern of competitiveness and a will to survive; but certainly there is evidence of both being the case.

I should note that there is no way that biology will simply distinguish between a well-meaning deflector and one who is antagonizing a group (such that there is another way to explain it).

There is a lot of history of great thinkers who challenged conventional thinking and were persecuted to the fullest extent of the time. I claim that the way most groups justify moral perception and punishment inequalities can be attributed to this evolutionary concept. From justification of slavery (indeed even the repercussions of standing up against slavery was met with changes in laws, and increase deterrents). What is particularly telling is the impact of having this content go widespread in modern society on the internet in the form of social media. It truly brings all of the subgroups that participate online in this discussion to be motivated (from an evolutionary standpoint) to make their case heard in an effort to persuade the group or general direction of behavior between people (whether in small social communities like HN or larger in Twitter, or between small teams...etc).

https://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v415/n6868/abs/415137a...

https://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v433/n7021/full/nature...

The base of the argument is that it doesn't really matter if it's well-intended or not; whether the content of the article is factual or deliberately bias or filled with hateful rhetoric. The only thing that matters is collective moral perception and the emergent properties of social structures (from the smallest group to the largest society). This is evident in fact by how a smaller group of people were not as hostile towards the author but the large viral group was. This merits the idea that approach to varying groups dynamics is an important factor to consider when challenging the norm.

Thought provoking indeed!

Notes: __ Muhammad ibn Zakariyā Rāzī or Rhazes was a medical pioneer from Baghdad who lived between 860 and 932 AD. He was responsible for introducing western teachings, rational thought and the works of Hippocrates and Galen to the Arabic world. One of his books, Continens Liber, was a compendium of everything known about medicine. The book made him famous, but offended a Muslim priest who ordered the doctor to be beaten over the head with his own manuscript, which caused him to go blind, preventing him from future practice.

__ Servetus was a Spanish physician credited with discovering pulmonary circulation. He wrote a book, which outlined his discovery along with his ideas about reforming Christianity – it was deemed to be heretical. He escaped from Spain and the Catholic Inquisition but came up against the Protestant Inquisition in Switzerland, who held him in equal disregard. Under orders from John Calvin, Servetus was arrested, tortured and burned at the stake on the shores of Lake Geneva - copies of his book were accompanied for good measure.

The Italian astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei was trialled and convicted in 1633 for publishing his evidence that supported the Copernican theory that the Earth revolves around the Sun. His research was instantly criticized by the Catholic Church for going against the established scripture that places Earth and not the Sun at the center of the universe. Galileo was found "vehemently suspect of heresy" for his heliocentric views and was required to "abjure, curse and detest" his opinions. He was sentenced to house arrest, where he remained for the rest of his life and his offending texts were banned.


Thanks for the explanation, links and references. I found a few free ones (one is https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3590188/) since I don't have a subscription for Nature.

I'm still not sure where to draw the line between Google, its managers, larger society, and general ethics, in this case, or how to distinguish 'collective altruistic punishment' from 'selfish punishment to forcefully protect interests against challenges'.

One thing I'll note is that the case at hand would be the same if it weren't collective, but was only one (probably relatively powerful) person trying to protect themselves from a challenge. A second thing: that the article was a different object when it was widely circulated (not just the same object treated by a large group versus an earlier smaller group).


That being said, I had a different conclusion than you, as did many others about the intention of the article. The repressed outrage seems like a decent way to explain some of the points so I see where you are coming from.


Somewhere between 30-40 (rough estimate) percent of the people I know support Damore. Hardly a majority, but also an indicator that these are not the ideas of a lone heretic. I am not as concerned with the fact that Google fired an employee for having an opinion, but more concerned with the fact that they only fire people with opinions that do not match those of the majority. Even if Damore's opinion's were wrong (which, according to several scientists, they are not), it should be ok to pose a theory without subjecting yourself to a potential witch hunt.


I think that's what a lot of people are most concerned about: not the gender science but the new information about Google's culture.

Google isn't a normal company of normal importance. It runs the dominant search services in the western world on which over a billion people rely on for information. Bing hardly comes close.

Old media hasn't picked up on it yet, but a series of Googlers are giving anonymised interviews. They are making a lot of very disturbing allegations:

Google is manipulating recommended content on YouTube to suppress conservative videos and viewpoints. That the voices pushing to manipulate web search are very loud. That Google Research ran a programme to investigate why people who get very good interview scores do worse in their career than people who get more mixed feedback, discovered it was due to bias in hiring towards Ivy Leaguers and under-represented minorities that caused them to have a lower bar. That YouTube systematically punishes channels that cover right wing politics. Senior management being on the verge of tears after Trump won. Conservatives getting punched. Replies to people like "isn't it nice to be white" or "congratulations on your white penis". People sabotaging each others performance reviews for not being on board with social justice wars.

Google makes a lot of money because people search there and because they have little incentive to go anywhere else. Bing and other well funded search engines aren't dramatically worse than Google, they just aren't better, so they can't build up a userbase. If people stop trusting Google's results, if they start believing they're manipulated and unreliable, suddenly they have an incentive to check out the competition. That would lead to more ad clicks, more money to invest in the search engine, better results, etc.

So that seems like a problem for both Google and its users.

If you aren't allergic to Breitbart you can read the interviews here:

http://www.breitbart.com/tag/rebels-of-google/


Google is a global company. What might pass for "right wing" in the US is lunatic fringe in many other countries. Do yes the search engine of the works should be biased towards fact based sources and away from sites like BB that preach hate and not science.


> they only fire people with opinions that do not match those of the majority.

No, they only fire people that boiled media. For Sundar, it doesn't matter what the guy actually wrote, what matters is what media wrote about it. And they pictured him as a misogynist. So that is the new truth, now deal with it.


> "...that is the new truth, now deal with it."

I'd want my employer to have a spine and defend me, not kowtow to the flash-in-the-pan media opinions...


> which, according to several scientists, they are not

Good thing that's enough for a quorum. /s

There is absolutely no evidence that there is a biological imperative that prevents women from being as effective as men at software development. None. Zero. Zilch. Just about every disparity you can imagine can be categorically dismissed by upbringing and cultural side effects.

It doesn't even pass the sniff test: do you really think there's something inherent to the Y chromosome that allows better rote analysis?


I'd just like to share, for those who didn't study psychology and don't know of the sex differences (ON AVERAGE) between men and women, it IS a scientifically established phenomenon, even at a few months of age (i.e. pre-culture).

Here's a really fun example: http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/sex/add_user.shtml [requires flash though]

Now I'm not going to say anything about engineering or anything like that. All I believe is that you can't rewrite science to align with your politics. Science has no political leaning.


The existence of some differences is pretty well established. The relevance of those differences to software engineering is less so. As one example, here's a pretty thorough take-down of the Baron-Cohen experiment that Damore cites as part of his evidence.

https://www.recode.net/2017/8/11/16127992/google-engineer-me...

Then there's the fact that even in the presence of persistent individual differences greater diversity might be beneficial to the group as a whole. After all, if you're putting together a football team you might want more than one kind of player. Why should that same "different people for different roles" principle apply among software engineers at Google? People who harp on "the science" of Damore's memo should consider that there are plenty of scientific points involved other than the one about infant cognition.


Sure.

And I think what you're bringing up here is the debate I'd like to see.

I was lamenting that I'm not seeing that debate, but rather a blanket dismissal which seems disingenuous -- which I can only attribute to misguided, but well-meaning intentions.


I think the problem is the person at the center of the debate is not good with words.

He at times simultaneously says that he merely introduces the possibility that biological differences cause genders to choose different roles, and that biological differences cause less women to enter tech and leadership roles.

One statement sounds like unestablished scientific fact, and the other sounds like it's already been established.

Note that this is exactly what Trump does, and the more he speaks, the more people he activates on both sides of the debate.

Scientifically speaking, this feels pretty disingenuous. On the other hand, if you previously felt apathy was a problem in democracy, perhaps this is a cure.


Appreciate the addition to the conversation, but since it doesn't say anything about efficacy in engineering, I'm afraid it's just noise.


The memo didn't claim anything about efficacy in engineering, period.

It claimed some contribution of biology to career preference on average, which is absolutely supported by research :

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166361/

"We explored the contribution of sex hormones to career-related interests, in particular studying whether prenatal androgens affect interests through psychological orientation to Things versus People. We examined this question in individuals with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), who have atypical exposure to androgens early in development, and their unaffected siblings (total N = 125 aged 9 to 26 years). Females with CAH had more interest in Things versus People than did unaffected females, and variations among females with CAH reflected variations in their degree of androgen exposure. Results provide strong support for hormonal influences on interest in occupations characterized by working with Things versus People."


Don't you think that, considering trying to get women into STEM fields is a pretty recent effort, jumping to the conclusion that "it must be because of biological reasons" that they are not interested and then we "shouldn't be doing anything"?

Would you have held the same opinion, had I said "well, there might be biological evidence that African-Americans are not interested in going through higher education, so we should not worry about trying to help poor black kids go through university" 40 years ago?


It's still a giant leap to say that women are less likely to choose roles in tech and leadership, as Damore did.

It's fair to claim that as a theory, but in many places in his memo, he speaks as if it is established scientific fact.


I don't think the author specifically claimed that men are better at engineering (if he did, I'd love if you could point me to where).

I think he said that biological mental differences on average are one possible component of why engineers tend to be men.


> There is absolutely no evidence that there is a biological imperative that prevents women from being as effective as men at software development.

The memo doesn't make this claim.


The memo literally lists the biological/psychological traits of men and women that may have caused the gender gap in tech. (He tries to clarify that he is talking on a population level and not talking about individuals)


He is not talking about raw programming skills, but the tech environment. And then he goes on to point out how the tech environment could change so that more women would want to be a part of it, or to stay in it longer once they were in.

In other words, he was saying there is something in tech culture which is inherently less palatable for the average woman than the average man. He never claimed that the culture was good and the women were deficient. Instead he said the culture should change instead of artificially trying to fill it with equal ratio hires.


Then in a pure meritocracy, why would they not succeed? Ergo the memo itself is a straw man.


Did you read the thing? It was very clearly about statistics. The message of the memo was not "women are biologically unfit for tech," it was, as a biological tendency, women are more likely to have traits which disincline them to have an interest in tech-related things, and therefore end up in tech.

To me this says very obviously that women can and are intellectually superior to men on individual cases. But we would not expect an even 50/50 distribution of tech interest among genders.

Feel free to refute that as a separate claim, but if your take from the memo was "all women are biologically inferior and cannot match or be better than men," then I would say you were not being intellectually honest when reading it.


It doesn't make that argument either. It makes the argument that since less women (will on aggregate) be interested in CS then men, less women will be in CS.

And that less women being interested in CS has _some_ basis in biological differences.

Whether you agree with that or not (the research does support it pretty strongly, but is certainly not settled), it is a reasonable argument.


Can you cite where Damore explicitly states that? Or are you just regurgitating second hand information that was processed by a blogger that didn't read the memo?


> "There is absolutely no evidence that there is a biological imperative that prevents women from being as effective as men at software development."

straw man when applied to individuals

begging the question when applied to groups

twofer


> it should be ok to pose a theory without subjecting yourself to a potential witch hunt.

That theory is that a large portion of your coworkers are unfit for the job because science. And they were only hired because of misguided politicking.


> "When I first circulated the document about a month ago to our diversity groups and individuals at Google, there was no outcry or charge of misogyny."

Kind of meaningless though, could be he only sent it to people who agreed with him or who were men.

"Goolag" shirt is pretty on the nose, I guess true hardship in Silicon Valley is losing your well paid tech job for... another well paid tech job?

It's funny that he refuses to admit any fault in what he said even in a limited way when ideological rigidity and refusing to entertain other people's ideas in good faith is exactly what he's complaining about in others. Doesn't seem like this experience has resulted in him rethinking much of anything. Suppose it's true that whatever you accuse the other side of is exactly what you actually do.


> It's funny that he refuses to admit any fault in what he said

Fault as in he regrets it?, or would have done it differently another time? If his goal was to get people to discuss this topic, how could he have done much better?

> ideological rigidity and refusing to entertain other people's ideas in good faith is exactly what he's complaining about

I don't think you can fault him for the rigidity or not entertain other people's ideas. It wasn't perfect or even great in either direction, but it surely made more effort than the many internet discussions, which we don't find fault with.


> it surely made more effort than the many internet discussions, which we don't find fault with.

I wouldn't say he made significantly more effort, and people certainly (and correctly IMO) find fault with them.

> Fault as in he regrets it?

I don't think he should regret publishing it, but I also don't think it led to much productive discussion about the issues here. People on both sides just chose to ignore and distort what other people said.

I don't think it's fair to say he made a good faith attempt to engage with the other side's position and fit it into the context of his beliefs. Instead he just presented his ideas and I don't think that does much on its own to advance the discussion. Predictably led to both sides digging in rather than finding some common ground.


To be frank, after all this, I wonder what tech company would want to hire him and the baggage that entails. I'm not saying he's wrong or right but he now brings with him a lot of unwanted attention. More than anything else, he was fired for bringing unwanted attention to Google. If the media never caught on or fan the firestorm that resulted, I'm not sure if he would have lost his job. I think he recognized as much even in the WSJ article.

Then again, maybe some daredevil startup could find a way to exploit his fame.


Gab founder has already offered him a job


What should he apologize for?

"I'm sorry for telling the truth."?


He doesn't have a monopoly on truth, that sort of presupposes that he was completely right and handled the situation perfectly. Perhaps he'll feel differently when the dust settles as another commenter suggested.


He handled the situation poorly IMO. Didn't consider the consequences of what he was saying true or not and didn't present it in an appropriate way for how sensitive the issue was. Ultimately that's a self defeating way to get your points across.

Showing up to a photo shoot in a Goolag shirt also just undermines him as a person. It's totally hyperbolic and ridiculous and will further discredit him in other people's minds because it's an insane overreaction to make that comparison.


Again, what should he apologize for?

You seem to really want him to repent for something. What is it?


How about for the things in his memo that were not truth? Sure, there's a bit of truth in it. There's much more that's debatable at best, and some that's pretty clearly false. How about for the totally off-topic nastiness toward the left, and diversity advocates, and others? Even in a memo about the driest of technical minutiae, comments like "honest discussion is being silenced" and "X tends to deny science" (with not even an attempt at proof on either point) would be worthy of censure. The memo was clearly written in a style more likely to escalate conflict than to create any positive outcome, so the reaction when Damore or one of his cronies leaked it beyond its supposed original distribution was entirely predictable. If you do something that simple diligence and common sense say would lead to a massive productivity-destroying flame war, you have something to apologize for.


> "honest discussion is being silenced"

I'm pretty sure that being fired - having pitchfork crowds go after you and people who agree - is close enough to being silenced.


The memo was written before that, and one extreme case does not prove a general trend. If one person is ejected from a concert or rally or trial for being disruptive, does that prove there's a general conspiracy against people with the same beliefs?


"Telling the truth" <- that's the problem, you've just made the jump to a conclusion: he's 100% right, and everyone saying he might be wrong is just an angry liberal who doesn't want to accept reality.

Maybe there's way too much socially driven discrimination right now to jump to conclusions about him being "right"?


What would be the fault in what he wrote? Can you provide some examples?


We should cut him some slack. Let the dust settle and he might reconsider the situation. Right now he's probably in defensive mode due to the backlash this whole situation created.

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