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Renowned sociologist James Damore - citing a study that has been debunked about how "women focus more on people than things" - builds a case for how to improve inclusiveness. I'm a bit skeptical about that.



OK. So you think he wrote the memo in bad faith and/or ignorance. Just say that. Why argue that it says things it doesn't?

The NYT piece could have just said something like, "...fired for harboring anti-diversity attitudes that are obvious from reading a deceptively worded diatribe," or something like that. At least be honest about what he literally said and what additional context and inferences add to the picture.


> So you think he wrote the memo in bad faith and/or ignorance. Just say that. Why argue that it says things it doesn't?

This is the "only the literal words should be taken" argument - but words can have contextual meanings above and beyond their literal meanings.

"Urban crime", for example, literally just means "crime in an urban environment" but is often used as a dogwhistle for "crimes committed by POC".

Same with Damore's memo - he may not literally have said the things people are seeing but - if you assume it was written in bad faith (which the pseudoscience and "I'm just asking the questions" would indicate) - the dogwhistles are clear.


> So you think he wrote the memo in bad faith and/or ignorance

By now I'm convinced he wrote the memo in bad faith. The moment he beelined to every alt-right media outlet wearing a "Goolag" t-shirt it was clear this wasn't just an honest mistake. Even an idiot would understand that writing a memo setting up a "left vs. right" argument and then attacking Googlers as "repressors misguided by leftist ideals", while laying out a flawed biological argument for why "women are not well suited for engineering" is not going to go down smoothly.

It's no coincidence that he admittedly kept pushing this around when it got ignored until it eventually "made it to the public." Had he really wanted to have an honest discussion with HR about practices, he could've emailed them directly. Then he sued immediately after getting fired. Very tight timeline for a well-intentioned snafu.

> Why argue that it says things it doesn't?

Where did I do that?

> At least be honest about what he literally said and what additional context and inferences add to the picture.

At least be honest about the actual content of the memo. The additional context and inferences are just fluff to mask the base premise: "women are biologically different, that means they probably don't want to work here, please stop trying reaching out to them, you are discriminating against everyone else."


> Where did I do that?

Here: "while laying out a flawed biological argument for why "women are not well suited for engineering" is not going to go down smoothly"

Do you actually not realize that's what he said? Since we're on HN, I bet you wouldn't make such a sloppy mistake of imprecision if the topic was something other than gender/race/sexuality.


OK, let's assume I'm wrong: what did he say? If he didn't try to highlight the biological difference why bring it up at all? Why claim Google is "a leftist ecochamber" for trying to increase diversity when the population is clearly not 80% men?

So far I've gotten a lot of people saying "he didn't day that!" but without explaining what he said. Please clarify.


> So far I've gotten a lot of people saying "he didn't day that!" but without explaining what he said.

There have been at least two large threads on HN on this topic. You would have me believe everyone is saying "he didn't say that!" but with no explanation of what he he said?

What he said was that in the aggregate, women and men statistically have different interests, behaviors, and performance in different fields. I can't imagine how sheltered of a life you'd have to live to not be exposed to this in real life, or more appropriately, how intellectually dishonest you'd have to be to pretend you've never noticed.

To me, this rise of anti-intellectualism in the west is rather scary.


> What he said was that in the aggregate, women and men statistically have different interests, behaviors, and performance in different fields.

...which therefore explains the lack of women in tech and leadership. People are taking exception to the latter claim: that the biological differences between men and women justifies the lack of women in the tech industry. The former claim, that men and women are biologically different, is uncontroversial.

> I can't imagine how sheltered of a life you'd have to live to not be exposed to this in real life, or more appropriately, how intellectually dishonest you'd have to be to pretend you've never noticed.

You are conducting a straw man argument against a claim that the other side is has not actually made.


> that the biological differences between men and women justifies the lack of women in the tech industry.

Did you use justifies instead of explains accidentally, or is that actually your understanding?

> The former claim, that men and women are biologically different, is uncontroversial.

Have you been reading the same discussions as I have?

> You are conducting a straw man argument against a claim that the other side is has not actually made.

The irony.


Yes. It is one thing to acknowledge that biological differences between men and women exist. It's an entirely different thing to claim that these biological differences are the reason why there are so few women in the tech and leadership, and then to call for the elimination of programs designed to encourage more women in tech.


> It's an entirely different thing to claim that these biological differences are the reason why there are so few women in the tech and leadership

As it is to claim that the reason for so few women in the tech and leadership is due to sexism, no? Oops, I guess not, there I go with my old fashioned misogynistic presumption of innocence. Silly me thinking the onus should be on the person demanding special treatment to prove the need, when of course the onus should be on the person providing that special treatment to prove why it isn't needed. Guilty until proven innocent, it's a brave and confident new world.


I never made that claim, nor do I think such a claim is accurate. But since you seem to be more interested in being snarky rather than engaging the conversation in good faith I think it's time for me to move on here.


> I never made that claim, nor do I think such a claim is accurate.

Wait, then what was "and then to call for the elimination of programs designed to encourage more women in tech" all about? I'm now in the position of having absolutely no idea what you are fighting for....it's not for programs to increase female representation, I presume it's not against such programs.....so what is it then? I guess we'll never know, which is fairly common in these conversations, because simply asking seems to be too much to ask.

Edit: (Sticking around to dole out some downvotes though I see, that'll teach me!)


> women and men statistically have different interests, behaviors, and performance in different fields

Fair enough. That's a valid theory to entertain, and I'm sure there's a growing body of science supporting both sides of the debate. Now, the question is this: if that was the case, how do we determine the extent to which the biological factors affect career selection, when we live in a society that encourages gender stereotypes? If we don't know the extent, how can we jump to conclusions about outreach generating "a discriminatory framework"?

That, at the end of the day, is my main complaint about Damore's memo. It's just a weak attempt at generating outrage.

> To me, this rise of anti-intellectualism in the west is rather scary.

Anti-intellectualism has many faces. The fact that we are discussing this in an open forum, and that we could probably sit on a coffee shop and have a civilized discussion about it is proof that the whole narrative about "liberal values = cultural Marxism" is at least partially bogus. Meanwhile, the same people who complained about stifling free speech at Google are threatening to leak the names of liberal Googlers to alt-right websites. Where's the outrage about that?


> That's a valid theory to entertain

There is extensive study on this topic going back several decades, if you're interested in the topic, there's not shortage of material. There's also plentiful anecdotal material where college educated forward thinking mothers very quickly learned the reality of nature vs nature after bearing children of different genders.

> Meanwhile, the same people who complained about stifling free speech at Google are threatening to leak the names of liberal Googlers to alt-right websites. Where's the outrage about that?

I'd have absolutely no problem condemning that whatsoever. Imagining your philosophical "opponents" as some sort of one dimensional monsters isn't doing yourself or your movement any favors.


> Imagining your philosophical "opponents" as some sort of one dimensional monsters isn't doing yourself or your movement any favors.

That would have been a valid claim until the unfortunate incidents in Charlottesville (and Bloomington before that, and Seattle before that...) People threatening to expose liberal Googlers to the same kind of ecochamber that celebrates someone driving a car into a crowd is beyond the pale. Anyone who takes so lightly potentially having blood in their hands is a monster.

This is my last comment regarding this topic.


> Anyone who takes so lightly potentially having blood in their hands is a monster.

That person being me presumably. Guilty until proven innocent, a recurring theme lately.

> This is my last comment regarding this topic.

What a loss.

EDIT: Seems I'm not being allowed to reply anymore (gee, where do conspiracy theories about censorship of conservative speech come from eh?), so I guess I'll have to reply here...

> No, I was talking about the Googlers who were threatening to leak names to alt-right websites.

You wanted the people that are threatening to leak names to be outraged at themselves? I think I'm losing track of all the parties involved in this vast criminal conspiracy.

Anyways, besides this entire topic being utterly pointless, if the right to speak freely is granted to only one side, I guess I should take the hint and adapt to our new world by keeping my mouth shut.


> That person being me presumably

No, I was talking about the Googlers who were threatening to leak names to alt-right websites.


I don't think that study's been debunked. But I would really like to see if it was, would you mind explaining? Were there methodological issues or did it fail to replicate in a larger better designed study?


The article I linked lists some of the issues. Essentially the study could be measuring for a number of things instead of gender aptitude for "liking things instead of people." But that's besides the point, even if the study was correct jumping from "newborn males are slightly more likely to stare at a mobile longer" to "that means adult women are less interested in computer sciences" is preposterous. Even further, jumping from that to "hence trying to be more inclusive in hiring is discrimination against males" is just the kind of shit I'd expect from alt-right writers, not engineers. But then again, Damore was very quick to jump on that train, so maybe he had a ticket already.


I searched this whole thread and can't find any comment you made that links to an article. Would you mind posting it?

I'd love to have my mind changed. Most of my friends are liberal and think this science is bunk, but from what I've read there is a lot of evidence that women are more interested in things than people, and a moderate amount of evidence that at least some of this preference is biological.


Here's the article I linked containing some criticism of the methodology: http://www.thetutorking.com/2014/08/criticisms-of-connellan-.... This paper came up barely a decade ago. Studies showing the influence of gender stereotypes on behavior go back decades.

To clarify, I'm not saying that there's 0 possibility that there are differences between sexes, just that trying to rationalize the current gender imbalance in engineering as "girls being girls and boys being boys" is a bit disingenuous, considering different countries perform differently. This article has some interesting data to mull over: https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/03/th...

There's no "right answer" right now, and yet there's a lot of people around here defending Damore's memo as if all the premises were completely accurate.


Yeah I haven't looked into the empathizing vs systemazing but it seems like bullshit on some pretty shakey ground.

The idea that that women are more into people than men, who are more into things is much more well established. With large cross-cultural studies and meta-analysis showing one the largest effect sizes in social science.

Gender Differences in Personality and Interests: When, Where, and Why? http://sci-hub.cc/10.1111/j.1751-9004.2010.00320.x

Gendered Occupational Interests: Prenatal Androgen Effects on Psychological Orientation to Things Versus People https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166361/


The Atlantic mentions a couple of studies that show that % of women in CS is very variable between countries.

But the % of women in CS doesn't seem to correlate very highly with my intuition about sexism. For instance I would never think that Mexico or Poland was a far less sexist place than Norway. Nor does it seem to correlate well with female student's math anxiety. Mexico and the U.S. seem to be very similar in terms of the math anxiety gap, but very far apart in term of number of female CS majors.

You could look at the charts and see support for the hypothesis that "there is variability in the % of women in CS therefore the difference is cultural" but you could also look at it and say "look across every cultural in the world women choose CS less often than men".

We also don't know why, it could be gender stereotypes about what field women go into, or it could be emphasis on passion vs income. With countries that place greater emphasis on community and income having larger numbers of women in CS, with countries that place greater emphasis on passion and interests having a lower number of women in CS.




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