I would very much like to see a discussion on how to solve this kind of problem.
This happened in Sweden, and in one article I recall reading the comment that "there is no need for male kindergarten teachers" from local politician from the left block which identify as feminist (current left block call themselves as a feminist government). The left block was also in power during that time which created those restriction for male teachers. One argument used to defend those restriction was that science showed that most criminals of this kind is male, and thus argued that male employees were higher risk.
It would be hard to say anything about "The feminist movement as a whole". At the time, no movement was stepping up in support of the male kindergarten teachers.
Your attack on whether his comment is 'thoughtful' or not is weak.
It really sums up this issue well and gave me lots to think about.
Of course I only have a myopic point of view of the software industry but I don't hear the same noise from other industries
Dangerous tho'. By the way, apropos of nothing, 95% of workplace deaths are men.
I find it hard to believe that this would be generally true. Source?
Edit: obviously you're always going to have some twats doing things like that, but that's true for everything. I'm looking for evidence that it's more than average here.
Random article of the time: https://www.svt.se/nyheter/lokalt/skane/pedofilanklagelserna...
Random article #2: http://www.tv4.se/efter-tio/klipp/barnsk%C3%B6taren-mitt-liv...
It was a couple years ago and I could not hope to find all the media articles from that time, including radio and TV reports. But I wish that no teachers should ever need to be wary of being alone with a child. It seems similar when I hear people that they should be wary of being alone with female coworkers in fear of being accused of sexual assault.
Edit: I did consider when I wrote the above comment yesterday that I might be doing the exact same harm that the Female engineers in the article was worried about by bringing up the case. At the same time it was one of the reasons why it so strongly reminded me of this case. As a teacher, do you find it that writing this on HN is harming teachers by bringing up pedophilia in the context of kindergarten teachers?
Of all the sentiments expressed in the article, I mainly disagree with the comment that Damore did the company harm.
He posted his thoughts on an internal discussion board and someone else leaked this internal document to the press. The leaker did harm to Google not Damore. In fact, I think the memo had been posted for a week or two before it was leaked. If your argument for firing Damore is that he did the company harm, you should look at the person who took an internal company document and made it public.
There are many people who believe he should have been fired anyway for offending his female coworkers and perhaps making them feel unsafe, but that is a different argument all together with its own merits and faults depending strongly on your stance on what constitutes tolerable speech.
The document still did harm. Just read this quote from the posted article-
> When I walk into my job at a tech company, how do I know which of my colleagues thinks I’m an outlier among women versus someone who was hired because I’m female that doesn’t deserve the job they have? How do I prove myself to people one way or another? The additional mental and emotional burden on me just to do my job is not negligible at all, and it’s also a pretty crappy way to start every day thinking: “Will the team/manager/VC I talk with today realize I’m qualified, or will they be making stereotypical assumptions about my abilities and therefore make it harder for me to do my job?” To me, that absolutely makes for a hostile work environment, and it’s an unequal burden my male coworkers don’t have to deal with every day.
That quote wasn't caused by this going public in the way it did, it was caused by it being posted in the first place. There is real harm done if women who work at a company don't feel they are welcome there.
> When I walk into my job at a tech company, how do I know which of my colleagues thinks I’m an outlier among women versus someone who was hired because I’m female that doesn’t deserve the job they have?
Your perspective is that this is harmful because the memo caused self doubt, so the memo was the problem.
From Damore's perspective, if there were no quota/diversity hiring programs at that place of employment, the woman in question would have no reason to suspect the latter. The hiring policy was the problem.
Totally different interpretations of cause and effect.
He did not say they were lowering the bar, but that by rejecting (proportionally) a greater number of qualified male candidates than qualified female candidates, the bar is effectively lowered.
If what he says is true, that there is a higher false negative rate for men, it's hard to imagine a system where the bar isn't effectively lowered.
The one possibility I saw argued elsewhere is that you could take all qualified men, and randomly reject some of them. At that point, you would expect the bar to be level.
If however you rejected qualified men in a non-random way, which is more plausible, the effect would be to change the bar.
I hadn't ever really thought about this kind of selection effect on the statistics of populations, so would love to hear if this sounds wrong or what the real expected outcome should be.
It's not about self-doubt, it's about creating a stereotype by which other people (managers, peers) will prejudge you even before you write the first line of code. This prejudice already exists as is, Damore's memo doesn't do anything to help it. If improving women's opportunities at Google was his objective, he failed miserably at it.
If I felt the memo implied or created that stereotype I'd denounce it as well.
It is widely acknowledged that there are social factors that might affect the number of women entering the field. He could've made as valid an argument about the hiring practices affecting diversity, without bringing up the supposed "biological" factor altogether. Not bringing it up would have probably put him in the right side of the Code of Conduct.
At best, it was poor judgement for him to bring it up when it didn't add anything to the conversation. At worst, it betrays a certain level of misogyny. Those of us who tend to assume the worst, might be more inclined to believe the latter, but I wouldn't blame people for believing the former.
One takeaway I have from this is that discussion about biological differences between sexes is often misused, so should be avoided in discussion related to diversity if you want people to not form an emotional reaction.
The whole thing was a meandering stroll of possible reasons. I absolutely don't see this memo creating a hostile workplace or illiciting the pushback it has garnered simply by what I read in the text. I read a document referencing population level differences between sexes(relevant in the context of attempting to explain differences in preferences that account for the difference in size of the groups) that have no bearing on individual differences between sexes(not even slightly relevant in hiring)
My internal reader probably filled in the benefit of the doubt.
Right! There's been enough people using biological differences as excuses for all kinds of things before, so it's probably better to resort to that argument only once all other factors have been removed. I believe that's one of the biggest reasons people reacted so badly to this memo. It certainly was the first thing that popped into my head as soon as I started reading his reasoning.
A bit of context is important. Anonymity on the internet has facilitated a rebirth of the "men's rights" movement. Don't get me wrong, there's definitely a place for "men's rights" when it comes to recognizing that sexual abuse happens to men too, which is what some of the groups got started, but some of the notorious forums (like the now banned "TheRedPill" subreddit) are virulently misogynistic. There are people openly defending rape, calling women "inferior" and posting fantasies about what they'd do to women who they perceive as "pushy" or holding some power over them. Feminists are demonized to no end. A lot of the rationalization around their rhetoric builds on some of the same bases Damore used for his "biological argument." I'll leave it to your judgment to decide if Damore giving one of his interviews to Stefan Molyneaux - known men's right activist - has anything to do with that or not.
It's that context that made my internal reader go for the worst possible scenario instead of giving him the benefit of the doubt. I guess I'm way more jaded person than you :)
If you knew there were a lower bar for people who had red hair, for example, because there's a pay gap and their population ratio isn't represented equally, every time you'd have someone on your team with red hair, you'd wonder if they were there because of the exception made for them or if they got there on pure merit. Thus, affirmative action causes people to question that merit (bias).
Worse, the redhead who got in never knows if they got accepted based on merit or based on some quota, which contributes heavily Impostor syndrome, negative self image and confirmation bias based on that negative self image.
You combine these two things over time and there is absolutely an impact.
Damore's ultimate points were: let's discuss this and, by the way, please don't ignore me just because my opinion is unpopular.
The memo specifically targeted diversity hires as a lower bar. Imagine if a memo started circulating that asked everyone to question whether or not you were hired for your skill. That's a terrible environment to create.
On the contrary, there is evidence of bias against women, which logically means that the bar is lower for men by default.
Basically, in any other context we expect people who have vastly differing views to be able to put them aside and work together. The only exception to this rule seems to be around leftist issues, where if you disagree you are out of luck.
You would expect, for example, the Jewish people and the Islamic people at a company to work together.
The idea that toleration for one memo form a nobody employee marks an entire company as unwelcome is insane. This zero tolerance attitude is a recipe for disaster.
Considering how all sixteen of my female teammates were pissed off about it, I'm going to go ahead and say you are demonstrably wrong.
Yes, it would be wrong of you to do that. You remember how in the Big Lebowski, Walter asks The Dude "Well, am I wrong?" and The Dude replies "You're not wrong, Walter. You're an asshole."
You don't want to be Walter.
Suggest that a piece of code is un-maintainable and that the group should rebuild it and there is a good chance someone will think that makes you an asshole.
You can't go around firing everyone because some idiot gets triggered.
I'm saying that as some who has actually worked with young Earth creationists before.
Where I contend with evolutionists is the typical narrative that the existence of natural selection implies a process that creates said (structured, positive) genetic diversity from which to select. This latter process is disputed, not the former.
I would be curious to hear your colleagues perspective.
Someone taking offense is not demonstration of anything, other than someone taking offense.
If you think he did mean to offend people, the firing makes more sense.
I don't think "he should have known better" is very fair when neck deep in a discussion about diversity. Sometimes diversity looks like someone not knowing cultural rules.
I also don't think Damore's totally naive when it comes to diversity issues. He did a lot of research and evidently even discussed his concerns with HR. I think it's pretty clear he knew what he was getting into.
So it's objective and fair? Or it is too fickle but it doesn't matter?
> I think it's pretty clear he knew what he was getting into.
I think he would have hired a publicist and lawyer before publishing the memo if he knew what was coming.
> So it's objective and fair? Or it is too fickle but it doesn't matter?
Whatever the ideological or scientific opposite of Damore's memo is, I would never publish it to anyone -- not even a single person -- at work. I don't think I'm alone in thinking that discussing race or gender issues at work is out of bounds, regardless of your position.
> I think he would have hired a publicist and lawyer before publishing the memo if he knew what was coming.
Aha that's probably true but I'm not talking about the backlash. I'm saying he knew he wasn't just asking to be proven wrong about migratory patterns of ducks. He's aware diversity is a sensitive topic.
But most tech employers already broach the subject in many ways. It's not right that employers get to have controversial opinions, including during work hours, but employees do not.
Things like this need to be addressed if we want corporate power to be moderated.
What controversial opinions are you talking about?
To be clear, I don't think all those things are necessarily bad. But I think letting corporations and corporate leadership have free reign and a big microphone while expecting employees to censor themselves is inconsistent to say the least.
> It's not right that employers get to have controversial opinions
They tend to be offended if you criticize Trump.
Therefore, you are not allowed to criticize Trump.
> Are you trying to claim that causing offense to a large group is not creating a hostile working environment?
What is truth when you have a gun to your head.
To substantiate that comment:
What powers should define truth? Sensory / populist / ability to take life.
This is absolutely false I do get to tell the group how to receive the message. When a group is intolerant the problem is with the group. When people were against interracial marriage and intolerant of other opinions the problem was with the group. When people were against African Americans riding in the front of the bus, the problem was with the intolerant group.
No candy coating, sensitivity training, or messaging was required to tell the angry, intolerant mob that they were wrong, just like they are here.
I only hope for your sake that you learn otherwise before you put your foot in your mouth in a very big way someday, rather than after.
If you're worried about an angry mob firing you, start communicating with care.
Additionally people are not protected from offense in the workplace. They're protected from harassment and an abstract memo that doesn't single out individuals is not harassment.
No one wrote a memo claiming that Google hires too many Jews who don't meet the same quality bar due to diversity efforts.
No one wrote a memo claiming Google needs to have mandatory anti-terrorist training because they've recruited a lot of Muslims lately (putting aside the fact that white christian terrorists are far more likely to be your cause of death in the USA).
>Basically, in any other context we expect people who have vastly differing views to be able to put them aside and work together.
Yeah and the way this works is not to bring up potentially offensive or sensitive topics except with coworkers you know really well. When you do bring it up acknowledge other people's viewpoints and ask lots of questions instead of making grand pronouncements.
All workplaces are political. Software development is about working with people and that is inherently a political activity. Took me a very long time to realize that but it is 100% true. The quicker you accept it the further you will go in your career.
>The idea that toleration for one memo form a nobody employee marks an entire company as unwelcome is insane. This zero tolerance attitude is a recipe for disaster.
What if his memo was arguing that black people aren't suited to be engineers period?
What if his memo argued that black people should be sent back to Africa and that the USA should be for white people only? What if he said he only believes this should be the law but so long as it isn't the law we must respect that and treat people equally until the law is changed?
Should Google "tolerate" someone being openly racist simply because they haven't called for violence?
Let's make this even more abstract: what if an employee openly states they think the company is evil and they disagree with the entire mission and direction of the company? Do you really think they won't spread cynicism and negativity? Do you really think they can be effective? Is there really no risk to morale?
Even if he were completely correct (he wasn't) by doing such a sorry ham-fisted job he made himself a liability. Even if he only angered or offended 10 other engineers that alone is reason enough to get rid of him. Hiring and training engineers is expensive.
Corporations are not free speech zones. If you become a liability the company will drop you like a hot-potato and don't you ever forget it.
This is not true. Even ignoring the 3,000 people killed in the twin towers, the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting alone killed more people than all right-wing attacks since 9/11/2001 combined. And that includes non-Christian attackers. And such things as neo-Nazis killing pedophiles in prison.
Isn't this an argument against any form of different hiring practices based on race/gender? Even if distributions of abilities are equal in nature, if a college has a lower bar based on gender, then abilities won't be equal among graduates of that college. Conversely, even if abilities are on average different, if a college has the same bar and same standards based on gender, then you won't have to question if a graduate really deserved to have that credential.
It highly depends on the details of the interview process, which I don't know, but just to discount it with that logic is impossible.
Additional rounds of interviews are more like trying to accurately diagnose a condition using multiple different tests because the initial test is known to have poor sensitivity and will produce false negatives. Doing multiple rounds may, of course, increase the chance of false positives (reduce specificity); but the assumption in this case is that when hiring minorities the sensitivity of the interview process is much worse than the specificity.
On a reread, Damore actually implies that Google's policies as applied to their interview process are "decreasing the false negative rate" for minorities. Whether this is harmfully discriminatory or not is open to opinion, but what I think is clear there is that the statement is favorable and understanding of his minority peers - the policies did not let anyone through who should not have been. I certainly don't think he should be fired for having given that statement.
>Additional rounds of interviews are more like trying to accurately diagnose a condition using multiple different tests because the initial test is known to have poor sensitivity and will produce false negatives.
The difference is that what they're testing for isn't a binary proposition (do you have the disease or not), but a spectrum (what is your skill level). Viewing this in terms of false-positives or false-negatives is insufficient. If we think of programming skill as a spectrum, we can ask what is the average top-% of candidates who pass the interview (we might guess its top 5% of all developers). If everyone has the same test then the average top-% is unchanged regardless of any efforts to get more minorities to take the test. But once you start giving more tries to minorities your average top-% necessarily reduces.
Whatever your test is designed to admit (say you're interested in hiring only the top-10% of developers), the average of those who pass will be higher precisely because of the chance factor. Being significantly better than the intended cutoff gives you a better chance at passing and so those who pass skews towards better than the intended cutoff.
I'm not saying whether this is a good or bad thing, but the average skill of those who pass must reduce. It is very straightforward to see this as effectively lowering the bar.
Imagine that if you're a minority, you have nearly a 0% chance of getting hired if you're the only minority in the hiring pool . As an employer, wouldn't you want to counteract that by making sure that the decision to hire/not-hire isn't affected by status-quo bias, so you don't overlook qualified candidates?
That has a very pernicious effect across the industry though. Think about what that policy does to other companies.
The other companies won't have as many high quality women because Google scouted and hired them already, but will have just as many low and medium quality women who aren't good enough for Google, and more high quality men who were displaced from Google. Which skews the gender ratio even more and creates the impression that women at those companies are lower quality than the men there or else they would have been hired away by Google -- because it causes that impression to be the truth.
And you can't fix it by having all companies adopt that policy, because it would still transfer high quality women from lower tier companies to higher tier companies, causing problems for all the women who don't get to work for the companies in the highest tier. Even the high quality women who are still in second tier companies.
The lower tier companies are where almost everybody actually works -- small and medium companies employ more people than huge companies because there are so many more of them.
Google is being quite selfish with a policy like that.
HBR found there's an innate bias against any minorities in hiring pools , and considering that women make up a much lower percentage of potential CS positions, the deck is probably stacked against them. This means that for other companies, they have already passed on hiring the qualified minority candidates. Speculatively, Google could be trying to counteract this by diverting more energy into finding minority candidates.
Also, is it Google's responsibility to make sure other companies have the best candidates, minority or not?
Nope, it's independent of any of that, because the effect is relative to what other companies do rather than any of those things.
And when you do that experiment in the real world rather than a lab, you get the opposite result anyway:
> Also, is it Google's responsibility to make sure other companies have the best candidates, minority or not?
It's not about who gets the best candidates -- presumably the men who are displaced are of equal quality and then go to work for the same other companies. The problem is that it creates an unfair black mark against every woman who doesn't get hired at Google despite Google having a special preference for them, and then leaves them in an environment with an even worse gender ratio than it was already.
And these other companies feed into Google. Plenty of women get their first jobs there and go work for Google later. If Google makes it harder for the women there and increases the number who drop out as a result, that's bad for everyone including them.
Can you elaborate on this more? Or give examples?
Google has 2000 job openings. If they hired without gender preference they would end up with 1600 men and 400 women, but they make an effort to seek out women specifically and instead they hire 1200 men and 800 women. They've now hired all of the women above the 90th percentile and 300/500 between the 80th and 90th.
The gender ratio below the original 80th percentile is still 4:1, but above the 80th percentile it's 14:1 and above the 90th percentile there are no remaining female job seekers. People notice things like this -- that none of the available top engineers are women, even though there are still less talented or experienced female applicants. It creates stereotypes. It deprives the women below the 80th percentile of their role models and mentors. People start expecting women to be worse on average, because of those available to hire, Google has actually caused that to be the case.
And things go downhill from there very quickly if more large companies do the same as Google.
Does anyone have any actual proof that Google is aiming for 50% or to represent the general population 1-1?
If waterboarding is not torture then why would you apply it to detainees to confess information they otherwise wouldn't?
Equally, if diverting more energy in to finding minority candidates is not lowering the bar for them then why would you need to divert more energy to find them?
This applies to any sort of interrogation tactic along the spectrum between The Comfy Chair and Execution. Each step would not be applied if the detainees confessed at the next-below step.
The point is to find the ones that can pass at a higher rate than you normally would. No bar is lowered, and your representation increases.
Actually effective techniques like building rapport aren't torture, and they get applied to get information out.
Maybe. There's a lot of diversity within the male gender.
I know I'm an outlier at work due to my politics, my religious beliefs, and other details of my background. I sometimes wonder which of my coworkers have something against me. I know all of them don't (or at least they are professional regardless), but people from my background are absolutely in a minority and are publicly ridiculed on a regular basis, including in HN comments.
I don't care to compare my experience to being a woman engineer, but the feeling described isn't foreign to me.
Right. Now imagine being an outlier due to your biology in a way that's impossible to conceal. I'm an outlier in some ways from my peers as well. But I just don't talk about those beliefs or those parts of my life. You don't have the option to do that if you're female or a visible minority.
Who said I was concealing anything?
Even if it were, aren't we supposed to be moving past the point where people need to closet who they are so as not to offend everyone else?
The only way to not have to feel discriminated like that would be if you could control minds of all relevant people in the workplace and make absolutely sure they don't have any bad thoughts towards you. Otherwise if you're a type of person who worries about what others think about you, you'll always have a reason to feel crappy, imagining whatever negative thought may be going through other people's minds.
Way out of this is to find a way not to care so much about what others think. Or if you suspect particular person of actual discrimination, talk to them, or report them specifically if you can't do that or it doesn't work.
Solution is not to suppress discussion by firing people for discussing diversity. That just creates a truly hostile environment of fear of being fired for others. And discussion is not really suppressed anyway. Quite the opposite.
That is a result of affirmative action, not of the memo. Shooting the messenger, if you will.
Affirmative Action does not require
having quotas (and, in fact, they are in mlst contexts explicitly illegal, even in venues required to have Affirmative Action policies). So, insofar as it “causes” the that result, it is largely by interaction with false information deliberately spread by its opponents.
Fair enough -- quotas aren't the issue, but affirmative action is the issue.
> So, insofar as it “causes” the that result, it is largely by interaction with false information deliberately spread by its opponents.
That's a concrete conclusion based on unprovable/shaky reasoning.
And even if that were true and you could prove it, it wouldn't change the fact concerning affirmative action (in this case, lowering hiring standards for certain groups) causing bias for both coworkers and the employee. How do coworkers know an individual got there on their own merit? How does an individual who is on/above par, yet who happens to belong to an affirmative action group, shake the internal/external stigma that they got there based on the lowered bar? These things contribute to bias whether or not we like the overall idea behind affirmative action (which is to level the playing field). Nothing comes for free.
But unless you do, you should agree that the choice is not between some biased "affirmative action" and a perfectly unbiased, meritocratic alternative, because the latter does not exist. The real choice is whether we try, in some least-bad way, to level the playing field or not.
What the glass ceiling builds, the glass cellar destroys. Biases that exist when looking up reverse when looking down.
>swapping names on resumes, etc.
Recent study found an interesting result doing this.
>to level the playing field or not.
And thus some groups will always be looked at, internally and externally, as having the benefit of a better playing field. Perhaps that cost is worth it, but we shouldn't blame the ones pointing out the cost as if they were the source of it.
Affirmative action isn't actually a specific policy directive, so it's not like a checklist or a set of guidelines for hiring or anything. Every department does it differently. But the main idea is that Kennedy and later Johnson told the government to get its diversity house in order, and it did. Some private institutions choose to implement pro-diversity policies, for hiring and otherwise, but they're not in any way related.
What you're referring to is tokenism, which is an old concept: people of color, LGBTQ people, or women feel like they're only there because of their minority status. It's a familiar trope, especially amongst people of color because they've often been exploited that way.
It's certainly the case that at some point, someone gets a job or gets into a school because they're a minority. That's gotten a lot of play in this thread and in the broader debate. But what I haven't seen, and this happens far, far more often, is that minorities don't get jobs because they're minorities. It is hard to get a job as a software engineer if you're Black, if you're a woman, if you're a Black woman, or at all queer.
This happens far more often than White men losing out to "diversity hires", and I think we should start focusing on the fact that for minorities, you're often occupy a space between discrimination because of who you are, or tokenism because of who you are.
But at least with tokenism you have a job. I'm in no way saying we should settle for this; the situation's unacceptable. But let's stop acting like tokenism is the worst thing in the world for minorities and then use it as an excuse to get rid of pro-diversity policies and affirmative action; policies that have probably done more for minorities than any other policy initiative past like, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Reconstruction Amendments, the 19th Amendment, and the Civil Rights Acts.
That leap of logic - taking a general statement and interpreting it as a personal attack - strikes me as something I'd read in Dilbert. It strikes me as a justification for the outrage people want to feel.
It's an excuse; nothing more.
> So if I say "the average women is shorter than the average man", am I now liable for being fired for creating a hostile environment for my female coworkers?
You wouldn't just be saying that. You'd be saying, "we know about implicit/explicit biases, but maybe short people are less interested in tech and that helps to explain the hiring gap." That and a series of studies about how short people, on average, have biological qualities that differentiate them from taller people, which you use to bolster your supposition. In effect, you'd be saying that, on average, short people are possibly just less interested in technology because they like other things, respond differently to stress and don't have the drive for status that tall people do.
So, while you wouldn't necessarily be _wrong_ for supposing that and people would be wrong to impute any further meaning than is represented (such as, short people aren't fit for tech, short people are not as good as tall people, etc.), you might be at least partially wrong for not being as clear as possible in your phrasing ... but not much else. Mainly, because his intention isn't to say women aren't fit for tech, but to point out why they might, on average, be less interested in tech, which would help to explain the gap in STEM interest.
Damore's memo states a lot of things about Google's recruiting practices that are still to be proven truth. Lowering the bar is one of them.
> His reaching out to alt-right media and having a "Goolag" shirt on the very first interview suggests that he was kind of ready for it.
Which alt-right media did he reach out to? I've been paying pretty close attention and I saw him being interviewed by the likes of Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro, but they are not alt-right media. They are both classical conservatives.
> As anyone who's worked for Google (I have) will tell you, that's highly discouraged. You don't want to put Google or yourself into a weird legal position for posting publicly about this (for example, Google would have to track you down and make sure to archive all your internal emails moving forward for possible discovery, etc.)
Then all we have to go on are theories and the question: what's to be gained from him lying about this?
His very first interview was with Stefan Molyneaux, a self-described "fighter for men's rights" (yeah, I know.)
> what's to be gained from him lying about this?
I don't think he was outright lying, I think he was just uninformed and made a lot of assumptions and drew
conclusions (biased by his own political views) out of those assumptions. I do think his inflammatory approach to accusing Google and Googlers of "leftist bias" was a way to get attention.
About what's to be gained? Well... he's been interviewed by the New York Times and he'll probably get a book deal out of it, plus whatever money he might get if he manages to successfully sue Google.
That's true and an excellent point. If he's lying about Google's recruitment practices, either by misunderstanding or by outright false accusation, then large parts of the memo are moot.
On the other hand, I would make the counterpoint that the only reason his honesty has come into question is because of the negative reception his memo has had. Also, what are the odds that Damore misunderstood things? I'd say low.
Additionally, I have yet to see any fellow Googlers publicly calling him a liar, but we shall see.
I'll be honest, that's what ticks me about Damore: after presenting the ideas in his memo a couple times and not getting any traction, he made a case of sharing them publicly inside Google. Not with a group of friends, not with the diversity team, but publicly. As you say, he's not a dummy, so he probably expected this whole controversy. His reaching out to alt-right media and having a "Goolag" shirt on the very first interview suggests that he was kind of ready for it. I'm not 100% sure he's being honest about his intentions to "help Google."
> Additionally, I have yet to see any fellow Googlers publicly calling him a liar, but we shall see
As anyone who's worked for Google (I have) will tell you, that's highly discouraged. You don't want to put Google or yourself into a weird legal position for posting publicly about this (for example, Google would have to track you down and make sure to archive all your internal emails moving forward for possible discovery, etc.)
If on the other hand any kind of affirmative action is in place then you would be right to assume average women is less qualified than an average man because that's what affirmative action is: lowering the bar for certain groups.
The very presence of affirmative action ("diversity efforts") should be the reason for women at the company to feel unsafe because then the prejudice against them becomes rational.
This should be obvious in my view. The place to take action is in early schooling to get more women interested in tech or give them more opportunities to get involved not in hiring more of them from already smaller job seekers pool.
Do you really think that is the case?
> The place to take action is in early schooling to get more women interested in tech or give them more opportunities to get involved not in hiring more of them from already smaller job seekers pool.
Yes, this is what many of Google's diversity programs are intended to do.
Sadly that's not the case. Affirmative action makes prejudice rational but it's not the only reason people display prejudice.
If A implies B then removing A doesn't make B false.
>>Yes, this is what many of Google's diversity programs are intended to do.
Good for them. They really should keep discrimination when hiring away from it. "We don't lower the bar but we look for more candidates among X group" is discrimination.
The same way "We don't lower the bar but we look for more candidates among white people" is discrimination based on race.
Simply put, unless you are mindful of someone's "subjective feelings" you will never be able to have a "factual discourse" with them. People are individuals and not statistics. You can quote statistics and average all day long, but if you offend, anger, or harm someone with your words, that person will not listen to you.
It isn't just that some people are too emotionally reactive to be directly involved in a reasonable conversation.
We are currently shutting down even the possibility of a conversation among any set of a large group of people, because some people in that group are uncomfortable with it.
They aren't even willing to sit out the conversation that makes them uncomfortable, they are insisting that nobody else be allowed to have the conversation within the larger community.
Isn't that a catch 22? How do we know their subjective feelings if we can't discuss contested issues?
Liberals today: "Embrace diversity of thought, color, and sexual genitalia! Wait I don't like that thing he said, fire him. Wait, he's mentally ill and thus persecuted, he needs to be protected. Wait, autism isn't a metal illness, he's fine just the way he is. Wait, he's a white male, he's not fine just the way he is, he's evil. Wait, he's self-identifying as autistic, he's not really autistic, a doctor has to diagnose him. Wait, no, that's different than self-identifying your gender, that's totally fine."
He went out of his way to praise women engineers and to emphasize he supports diversity.
There are just certain that intolerant people cannot discuss rationally, like biological gender differences.
The fault lies with the intolerant minds, not Damore's approach.
If we forget this, then intolerant minds will have awesome veto powers over what the rest of us will be allowed to discuss.
Intolerant people are likely to use those veto powers.
That was when there were some low thousands of software engineers in total. Hardly statistically significant to compare with today's population.
The first few engineers were female because of sexism in the 1970s. The only mainstream jobs they were allowed to have were teaching and programming. There are fewer females now because of lack of sexism not due to it. As society became liberal, women started becoming doctors and lawyers, which matches with their interests much more than programming.
This memo did not say women were bad engineers.
>The sloppy scientist says, "on average, across populations, left to its own devices, this group is [not as skilled] [neurotic] [hard to work with] [not as smart] [not as strong] [slower]" etc. They make assumptions without sufficient data, and the rigor is missing.
Here's the line:
>The first problem is that human beings aren't averages, they're individuals.
His core argument was that there are biological reasons why women are under-represented in technology and that the initiatives taken by Google to reach out to females were illegal and discriminatory. He attempted to use science to justify his beliefs. That would lead many women, who already are self-conscience about their position, into wondering if they are present to their own merit, or because Google is trying to fill a quota.
I believe he did, and the parent you're responding to seems to as well, but they didn't say anything about "spar[ing] factual discourse." You seem to be reading that into their comment.
And I would definitely say there are factual discussions that can be had privately between individuals who already trust each other that are better kept private in order to spare the feelings of non-participants. Other humans have feelings, taking them into consideration is not weakness.
I'm arguing that line of reasoning is not constructive, and the collective's agreed upon opinions should not act as a barrier for scientific discourse. (which is what the memo was asking for)
Even slatestarcodex argued a little for both sides.
Its clear scientific consensus has not been reached, and people need to discuss this openly with out censors.
It's also possible, and more likely, for an overreaction to a memo to cause this kind of damage.
 I am not certain the extent to which this stereotype exists, so I am not sure it rises to the level of making the work environment "hostile", but I see that it could be the case.
How is this harm? And how is that alleged harmed Damore's fault?
Do you think she was unaware of Googles strong push for women in the workplace?
That seems unlikely.
Do you think she was previously unaware that many people might think diversity hires are less qualified?
Did the memo guy state that diversity hires are lowering the bar? No. He went out of his way to say the opposite.
The most likely scenario is she has felt this way since she was hired and now has a specific person she can direct her anger/frustration/hurt onto.
> and it’s an unequal burden my male coworkers don’t have to deal with every day.
This is demonstrably false. Imposter syndrome is quite common for men in tech.
I would be interested to see studies on imposter syndrome between genders and between fields.
Using that logic, should every male feel unwelcomed because of the pro-female activity at google and in corporate america?
Can't damore and every male make the same argument?
Should men feel offended that ycombinator has a "Ask a female engineer" segment but no "Ask a male engineer" segment?
I'd appreciate if someone could confirm/deny or add anything to this timeline.
1. He went to the summit, which wasn't recorded mostly to allow people to be open and share their private stories without fear
2. Something about that summit didn't sit right with him, so he wrote up this document and send it as feedback directly to the organizers (not openly)
3. When he got no response back (it's arguable if organizers should reply to every single feedback, but you can also argue that this was a pretty big one), he posted it to an open but not huge discussion board (skeptics) specifically made for people to argue ideas and have discussions.
4. Eventually, it caught some attention outside of the board and it blew up across the entire company
You were pretty close but just wanted to clarify a couple small points.
Rather, I present my honest assessment of the strengths of the various pieces of evidence, pro and con. If I "want to be proven wrong", I certainly wouldn't present a falsely certain argument. That is not arguing in good faith.
And that's how I would argue a scientific question, not an argument about my coworkers ability.
I am 100% certain that the trackiest company in the world is perfectly capable of knowing exactly who leaked it. They have chosen to protect that person, for reasons unknown at this time.
Those that are downvoting, why do you disagree that this statement is not relevant to the current discussion?
He is also young and just starting his career. If this had been addressed calmly maybe he could have learned from this situation. Zero tolerance for a young man's folly instead turned him into a sympathetic figure and an alt-right star. It has reinforced the perception that the PC left is oppressive and reactionary. And worse of all he will never learn from his experience because the reaction confirmed his natural bias.
I guess there is no cutting people a break anymore in this era of shouting into the ether, virtue signaling, and political hellfire.
Google shouldn't be soaking up all these ignorant young college boys if they're not mature enough to handle a workplace.
Plenty of other users are able to express similar views to yours without violating the site guidelines. Please follow in their footsteps and post only comments that make the forum better, not worse.
An internal discussion board intended for controversial discussion no less!
The number of leakers has to be quite the headache for Google's StopLeaks folks. Between people leaking Damore's memo because they were upset by it, and people talking to Breitbart because they were angry he was fired, there's been a LOT of leaks. How Google approaches handling this issue is going to be interesting, there's a lot of hurt feelings on all sides.
If there's an employee conduct we should all be able to agree is hostile, blacklisting coworkers would be it.
It'll be open season on Google now, and they deserve it if the blacklists and age blacklist is true.
And everyone maintaining age blacklists or ideological blacklists should be fired.
a month ago.
> ... said he initially shared the 3,300-word memo internally a month ago.
It's just as likely he was fired for lying about having a PhD from Harvard.
Edit: I stand corrected, he was just enrolled in a PhD program.
LinkedIn doesn't allow one to differentiate between being enrolled in a PhD program, or having completed a PhD program
The common practice when enrolled in a PhD program is to list using a future completion date, making clear that you have not yet completed the program.
Google knew he was enrolled in this program when they hired him.
I feel unsafe as a Man when people advocate that employers should engage in gender discrimination against Men to enforce an arbitrary ratio of Men/Women the workforce.
Do I have the right to feel safe? Do Men have the right to get Women fired because they feel unsafe and threatened by the ideas they express?
There is a double standard and institutional bias that is being perpetrated by corporations like Google. I see no attempt to address these issues in away that changes there institutional bias and affords equity to the opponents to these ideas. This is simply damage control.
This to me is the most interesting question that hasn't been answered about the memo. There seems to still be two camps, those who believe Google does not lower the bar for women and those who do. They can't both be right and I'd imagine if we could take a look at Google's hiring practices it wouldn't be too hard to tell which is which. Of course, we can't Google keeps its hiring practices, at least the ones relating to diversity very hush hush. This was actually Damore's impetus for writing the memo, he attended a diversity summit at Google where he learned about his employer's hiring practices and also observed that this summit was, unlike other meetings at Google, not recorded for later viewing. Damore's conclusion was that the hiring processes were unethical and likely illegal, although afaik he's yet to say specifically what it was that he observed. Still I don't think it's very reasonable to say that Damore has caused harm with this misrepresentation unless you can show conclusively that it is indeed a misrepresentation, and so far I haven't seen anything conclusive that shows that.
How do they lower the false negative rate? A sibling comment mentioned Google's practice of giving diversity candidates a second interview if they fail the first. This would mean if you have a false negative rate of `n` your false negative rate would become `n^2` (which is lower because n is hopefully much less than 1). However, this also increases your false positive rate from `p` to `1 - (1 - p)^2`. So in effect, this is lowering the bar as it's giving certain groups a better chance of being hired when they're not qualified than others. I would be very interested to hear about a hiring practice that lowers false negative rate without affecting false positive rate. I can't think of one right now but it seems like it should be possible.
Having an extra interview would seem a logical way of preventing the loss of qualified candidates, wouldn't it?
Now, even with that being true, that doesn't mean that whatever percentage we have right now is equilibrium either, but from my understanding, he was trying to say that we should be careful pushing too much towards 50% split.
Let's focus on things we can actually know rather than speculating about Damore's state of mind.
I'd ask a few questions about this interview practice though.
1) Is this the entirety of Google's diversity practices in hiring? I'd be surprised if it is. So even if this isn't lowering the bar it still doesn't prove conclusively that's not what they're doing. Again I'd like to see a more complete accounting of what exactly it is they do. However, I'm certainly not saying that you need to provide this in order to have a legitimate argument, you don't have access to this information any more than I do.
2) This practice seems to have a somewhat narrow view of what a interviewer bias looks like. In particular it only tries to eliminate bias in the case of a minority being rejected. What would happen if we were to instead attempt to detect interviewers who were prone to bias by randomly giving rejected candidates second interviews and seeing which interviewers wound up frequently disagreeing with their peers? If the assumption that bias only effects minority candidates is true this would have much the same effect.
3) What if it wasn't a second chance but 100 chances? I.e. if you're a minority you get to interview for Google 100 times and if any of those say yes your in. White people only get 1 shot. Unless you think Google's false positive rate is 0, this would have to lower the bar wouldn't it?
" Let's focus on things we can actually know rather than speculating about Damore's state of mind."
Or, at the very least, present speculation as speculation. It does "show" anything definitive.
So let us extend him the benefit of the doubt that he didn't extend the hiring committee? How about we extend the benefit of the doubt to everybody involved, which would result in him never writing this memo and second guessing the hiring process.
The rest of your points seem to be just a whole lot of speculation, which you just told me not to do. The article shouldn't have been written without clarification on these points and conclusive evidence. Maybe go talk to the hiring committee about their motives/state of mind first Mr. Damore?
My "points" are indeed speculative, that's why they were presented as questions. I don't know the truth and it's impossible for us to talk non-speculatively about Google's hiring process because we simply don't have that information.
The original memo (not article, this distinction matters) did indeed cite a great deal of evidence, you may or may not consider it conclusive, I found it quite compelling. But I think it's important to remember that the memo itself was a request for clarification, posted to an internal message board for skeptics in the hopes that somebody would be able to tell him why he's wrong.
I know with my (again anecdotal) experience with large SV firms, if Google had these kinds of holes in their hiring process they would be standing alone in the valley. Also, "lowering the bar" is not consistent with their absolute global market dominance.
He also claims in the same interview that he had already done his fact and opinion finding, and incorporated feedback into the memo by the time he posted it, so I don't know how much of this was a "request for clarification". He even had action items.
If all interviewees have the same access to second interviews then I agree that it does nothing to lower the bar. In general if a policy doesn't concern itself with the identity of the candidate I don't see a way that it could be lowering the bar. However, my understanding, based on previous comments, is that diversity interviewees get a second chance immediately while the others must wait 12 months before they get a second chance. If that's the case then Damore's argument (and mine) stand.
I don't think Google's market dominance can be used as evidence of good hiring practices since I believe in the early days they didn't have such practices and wound up with a very undiverse company. This didn't seem to stop them achieving market dominance, draw from this what you will about how much they need diversity to succeed.
I'm having a bit of trouble understanding how you simultaneously believe that he "had already done his fact and opinion finding, and incorporated feedback into the memo by the time he posted it" and "The article shouldn't have been written without clarification on these points and conclusive evidence." It seems to me that not only did Damore make an honest effort to seek out clarification but that you're well aware of this fact.
"had already done his fact and opinion finding, and incorporated feedback into the memo by the time he posted it"
I didn't claim this, he did (see: Youtube link). My point is that he didn't actually look into or ask hiring committees why they were doing what they did. Instead, he made bold recommendations, that (like the OP link shows) made women in tech feel like they didn't belong.
He wasn't open to a discussion as many characterize, in his mind, he'd already had discussions and incorporated feedback (his words)
The bar for white male candidates at Google: Pass your first interview.
The bar for minority candidates at Google: Pass your first or second interview.
Of course it lowers the bar for hiring. Maybe it's justified, but it's certainly not raising it. It's not keeping it the same. Maybe it's still tougher to get hired as a minority candidate than as a white one, but that doesn't change what the policy does.
It's not just minority hires that interview more than once at Google, so there's no bar lowering. There's just trying again, and everyone can try again.
So really it's what you'd expect:
The bar for all candidates at Google: Pass your interview.
You can call it justified, leveling the playing field, or whatever else, but it’s still lowering the bar to getting hired.
If you assume that the variance consists exclusively of false negatives due to discrimination, then the extra interviewers will work as Google claims and no bars will be lowered.
If you assume that the variance consists of randomly distributed error that's the same for all interviewees, then the second interviewer is just some statistical sleight-of-hand that's, on average, equivalent to lowering the bar.
Of course it's possible that the truth is in between.
In this case, isn't the finding the truth pretty straightforward? Pull the performance reviews of the second chance hires. Check to see if there's a clear correlation in review and find a pattern.
Are we assuming that Google, which specializes in using data, does not bother to mine its own data with regards to its hiring practices?
That part aside - why does it matter? If you want to recruit for diversity and there is a smaller selection of one group, you are very likely to have to recruit the weaker candidate from the smaller group.
But why is that a problem? The whole argument behind striving for diversity is
that "A diverse team is stronger than a non-diverse one". So the argument must be that regardless of whether you recruit the strongest individual or not, you are building the strongest team.
There seems to be a widespread misunderstanding that a) The strongest team is built by having the strongest individuals, or b) that the strongest candidate has a right to be recruited even though the team is not the strongest if he is.
Well, from the linked article, one of the women stated that "When I walk into my job at a tech company, how do I know which of my colleagues thinks I’m an outlier among women versus someone who was hired because I’m female that doesn’t deserve the job they have?"
Thus, if a company engages in affirmative action-like hiring practices, whether or not the bar is actually lowered, inevitably some employees will feel that some exceptions are being made to fill a quota. As a result, all personnel who fit those sought-after demographics might be considered suspect, and unfairly labeled by some minds. I would absolutely not want my company to start recruiting weak candidates who resemble my general physiological description; I wouldn't even want them to announce they are considering it.
That said, you are right, there are merits to diversity. And I would rather err on the side of too much diversity than not enough. However, this is a complex problem which merits open discussion, otherwise we are bound to settle for suboptimal solutions, or worse.
I think this is impossible to avoid, but I also think it's an issue coming from the same flawed thinking, which is that people can be individually measured for their strengths. That's only true to a certain extent. Once people are qualified "enough" - the strength of the team is what's important. And if you want diversity you subscribe (whether it's correct or not!) to the notion that a diverse team is a stronger team than a non-diverse team. That also means that a diverse team of slightly weaker individuals is a stronger team than a non-diverse team of slightly stronger individuals.
The bottom line is: the company doesn't want the strongest individual, and the strongest individual donesn't automatically have a "right" to the available position. The strongest candidate is the one that would give the biggest improvement to the team, not (necessarily) the one that scores highest on tests, has the best experience or education, or that would be the best contribution to any set of other teams. Only the team in question matters.
For a (poor-ish) analogy: a college soccer team could select the 11 individually strongest players, and still not be the strongest team. If the 11 strongest players in the school were all defenders it's likely that the team would be terrible. Among the defenders recruited would be players that are individually "weaker" than some of the rejected attackers. The rejected attackers would complain that the defenders were recruited to fill a quota of defenders in the team. And they'd be right.
Frances: ...if I remain silent, that silence could be mistaken for agreement.
I should not be forced into that kind of debate at work.
Frances: ...I’m also disappointed that the men I know,
including most of my male colleagues, remained silent
on the topic.
Frances: ...Many powerful men in Silicon Valley have
huge bases of social media followers. By remaining
silent on this topic or tweeting support for Damore,
they are sending a message that philosophical arguments
and principles take precedence over the lived
experiences of many smart, talented female engineers
and technical founders.
While I agree with much of what is said in this piece, I find this pretty demonstrative of the "damned if i do, damned if I don't" situation I'm in as a male trying to survive in this PC crucifixion culture.
what I realized is that I am older, more world wary and far more cynical about anyone looking out for me than your average young millennial.
I think the dividing line is in that cynicism. I have never felt like anyone looked out for me.
"How do I prove myself to people one way or another?"
I have stopped trying to prove myself. I do what I think is right and am very wary of external validation that is not based on engineering data. Asking how you prove yourself seems very foreign. You always risk being wrong. You always risk being cast out.
If young social activists were less strident about how society stacks the deck for all white people- even the ones who have been abused, who had a shitty childhood, who have had bad relationships, who are suffering from depression or chemical abuse or other problems, then I think we'd stop running into this very boring and predictable conflict.
Everyone is suffering on some level. Stop talking about white men like we've never experienced pain.
I do think the memo was foundationally stupid. Compassion is needed on all sides.
I don't think this was about generic proving-to-others. I think it's about being prejudged by others at first glance which minorities in tech get in every interaction they have. I think that it's valid to say that's a significant struggle.
I have no expertise in this field of social ethics, so I'm hesitant to critique your comment when I'm as uninformed as anyone else, but I also think that your following comment shows an ignorance of that struggle:
>I have stopped trying to prove myself. I do what I think is right and am very wary of external validation that is not based on engineering data. Asking how you prove yourself seems very foreign. You always risk being wrong. You always risk being cast out.
If I'm interpreting this correctly as "This is what I did in response to my impulse to prove myself. This is what women in tech should do about their's as well.", then I think you are not considering the fact that you have the privilege of not needing to prove yourself. When people meet you, they don't assume a baseline level of incompetence. This same strategy that you use wouldn't apply to minorities who always feel like they need to prove themselves because of what they look like.
So I think this need to prove yourself stems from a serious, real issue, and so it's wrong to downplay this issue by equating minorities' perpetual feeling of needing to prove themselves with your feelings, to conclude that the problem exists inside them, and not outside them.
Apologies if I misinterpreted your words, but if not, I'd like to hear your response, because this is something I've been thinking about lately.
> When people meet you, they don't assume a baseline level of incompetence.
In a way they are prejudging him though. They consider the baseline for him to be one who assumes they're incompetent. He has to prove otherwise. Or perhaps not quite as severe, he is assumed to have privilege which you yourself stated.
It seems to be a problem with assuming things about an individual from population distributions. Perhaps we've forgotten how to treat others as individuals and be treated by others as an individual.
>>If I'm interpreting this correctly as "This is what I did in response to my impulse to prove myself. This is what women in tech should do about their's as well."
I am very explicitly avoiding saying what someone should do. I try to celebrate different approaches than what I would have taken to the same problem. But I reserve the right to have an opinion bout the effectiveness of the approach. In this case, I think the outrage and fury directed towards a straw-filled white man has negative consequences. Maybe these activists will get what they are struggling towards, but not without consequences on how the quiet people perceive them. There is no monolithic group that will universally accept a position. Being restrained in your position will make people feel safe about expressing opinions that challenge your own.
>>So I think this need to prove yourself stems from a serious, real issue, and so it's wrong to downplay this issue by equating minorities' perpetual feeling of needing to prove themselves with your feelings, to conclude that the problem exists inside them, and not outside them.
I am not sure I agree that it is "wrong" to downplay it. This model has worked for me. Seems unhelpful to keep that perspective a secret. I have achieved a level of success I did not expect in my career.
What kind of discourse are you referring to? I hate that there's this notion that trying to hire talented people from underrepresented communities somehow requires oppressing white people.
With respect to messaging tone, there are feminists and social justice people who end up being so tone deaf that they alienate otherwise sympathetic people.
Yes, it's impossible to stay out of this issue. It's impossible to stay out of most issues. Certainly the ones that affect ourselves and our colleagues in everyday life.
You don't have a moral obligation to throw yourself into "the fight" on one side or another, but you do have a moral obligation to consider the impact of your behavior. If you were to witness a coworker being discriminated against, silence is not the same as ignorance.
To keep your head down and not get involved is going to favor one sides' agenda. If you want to do that, it's your right, but you should own that. We all have the capacity to get involved at whatever level we happen to be on. In our social circles, in our companies or in the public discourse. By interacting with those spheres, by choosing what we mention and acknowledge and consider we push on one side or the other.
It's fine to not be, "in the streets," but it's not fine to pretend these issues have nothing to do with you.
Edit: I've read some accounts suggesting people ask their parents what they were doing during the civil rights movements of the 1960s. People might have protested, they might have been appalled from afar. They might have thought it was much to do about nothing. Ten years from now, how would you explain how you felt today at a cocktail party? However you see it, I think we all have a responsibility to decide and not simply drift through society.