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Free Minds & Free Markets

On the Google Memo Flap, Every Side is Right...

...and every side is wrong

If I were a computer engineer struggling in Google's male-dominated culture and woke up one morning to read a mini treatise by a male colleague arguingGoogleMJMonty via Foter that innate biological differences between the sexes—not sexism—were to blame for the company's gender gap, I would be pretty damn pissed. But that wouldn't mean that my colleague was wrong—nor would it mean that Google's CEO was out of line in firing him.

All of that might sound contradictory. But it's not: The dilemma of the Google memo is that all sides have a point.

One would have to be pretty cynical to pooh-pooh the steady stream of reports that Silicon Valley—80 percent male—is rife with sexism. Accusations of sexual harassment are frequent. Earlier this month, two startup investors were forced to resign after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. But more than overt sexual advances, the bigger problem is the casual discrimination that stems not from an old-fashioned disdain toward women but a greater comfort level with the male, computer-nerd way of doing things that makes it difficult for women to flourish. On top of this, women are actively discouraged from speaking out through explicit non-disparagement clauses in sexual harassment settlements, or fear of retaliation or being branded as whiners not tough enough to handle it.

In the wake of all this, when a man comes along and pens a memo, titled "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber," complaining that the company's PC culture is preventing him from openly speaking out, it would be understandably galling. But that doesn't mean that he is simply wrong, at least in his central claim that sexism may not be the main cause of the tech gender gap and that aggressive diversity hiring can't completely cure it.

For starters, there is compelling scientific evidence that men and women do indeed have different cognitive endowments and personality traits. Contrary to feminist orthodoxy, men and women are different. We are not all born totally tabula rasa and then imprinted with socially constructed gender roles. Indeed, as blogger Scott Alexander points out in his superb examination of the gender differences literature, although both sexes have identical math abilities—at least as it relates to applied disciplines like computers—they show significant differences in mechanical reasoning (on which men on average score better) and verbal reasoning (on which women on average score better). Furthermore, women who are good at math also tend to have superior verbal skills, but men don't. However, the biggest differences between the sexes are not in their abilities but their inclinations: On average, men prefer to work with physical objects and women with people.

Now, even though almost half of undergrad math majors in America are women, they are still underrepresented in the tech sector. Some of this is sexism in the tech industry, no doubt. But plenty of women simply prefer to use their math prowess in teaching or other fields that involve people rather than machines. Or they give up math for more language-oriented professions. Or they opt out of the workforce completely or partially to raise families and strike a better work-life balance, a phenomenon that Lisa Belkin brilliantly reported in her New York Times piece, "The Opt Out Revolution," 14 years ago.

Ironically, Alexander points out, non-Western countries where feminism has made less progress in eliminating sexist stereotypes actually have more gender parity in technical fields than the West. In America, 26 percent of women enroll in computer classes. That is in line with: Sweden—30 percent; New Zealand­—20 percent; and Canada—24 percent. But it's a whole lot less than: Thailan— 55 percent; Guyana —54 percent; Malaysia—51 percent; Iran and Zimbabwe—41 percent.

Why is that? My guess is that when women are freed from the need to work for mere material survival and the forced drudgery of household chores, consulting instead their own inner capacities and desires to determine their professional destiny, technological fields sometimes lose their allure. In this, feminism has played a crucial role in liberating women from stultifying conventions and allowing them to fulfill their real needs. So if feminists would quit fixating on raw bean counting, they could perhaps start celebrating— instead of lamenting—that women's career choices don't exactly mirror men's.

But just because many women are more inclined toward non-tech fields doesn't mean that tech companies such as Google shouldn't make special efforts to pursue them.

There are many reasons other than political correctness—solid business reasons!—for Google to try and deal aggressively with the endemic sexism in its ranks and remove at least some of the cultural barriers that may be preventing capable women from jumping on board. Indeed, women who combine decent math and superior people skills might be a better fit for upper management positions than a brilliant computer nerd. So making socially obtuse male employees sensitive to what they might be doing to inadvertently turn women away is not exactly akin to sending them to Soviet re-education camp. The gender gap may never be closed—but it could be narrowed.

This is what the author of the memo failed to fully grasp in his single-minded insistence on exposing the difficulty that the differential cognitive inclinations of men and women pose for the company's diversity policies (although he emphatically did not say that women don't have the technical chops to rise to top ranks, as many liberals are accusing him of doing). Keeping him on would have made him a liability for Google's recruitment efforts, which is why Google CEO Sundar Pichai was not simply succumbing to the PC mob in firing him (as many conservatives are accusing him of doing). How do you keep on the rolls a person who has alienated a chunk of his fellow workers? If Google was at fault, it is in pretending that it was interested in open dialogue and discussion without drawing clear limits in advance.

Sometimes, it is possible for every side in a dispute to be partly right and partly wrong. Unfortunately, the furious culture war this memo has triggered is causing each side to focus on its opponents' "wrong" and ignore the "right."

This column originally appeared in The Week

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  • colorblindkid||

    Excellent take by Shikha.

  • ||

    Third time's a charm.

  • GILMORE™||

    and twitter

  • GILMORE™||

    and india

  • GILMORE™||

    and "who to vote for"

  • Chipper Morning, Now #1||

    In other words, Shikha should avoid topics that personally trigger Gilmore.

  • GILMORE™||

    Shikha should avoid topics that personally trigger Gilmore

    Halfway right

  • Chip Woodier||

    Shikha Dalmia sucks balls...always and forever. And if you don't realize this, so do you.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    and Libertarian principles.

  • Longtobefree||

    "Now, even though almost half of undergrad math majors in America are women, they are still underrepresented in the tech sector."

    Or could it be that math skills are not all that necessary in all but the most basic research parts of IT?
    In 45 years of working with computers, I never once used 'real' math as part of my job. Where math was required (interest calculations, projections, etc) is was in the specifications. In the early days, we used math to compute the expected amount of storage necessary for a new data structure, but that was straight out of the manufacturers specifications. Now, or course, it doesn't matter how much space is required, just buy more.

    Firing James Damore (he has a name Shika) will do exactly what you say Google should avoid; keep many talented qualified applicants from considering Google. It is just that they will be conservative and / or Libertarian boys and girls alike.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    From what I've seen, if you're an actual pure math student, and you're not taking it as a double major with engineering or CS or whatever, you are not that interested in programming.

    They're not the same thing. Even if they get into Mathematical CS, that's also not the same as software engineering. This is a really relevant question, the one of interest.

  • Set Us Up The Chipper||

    I have a pure math degree. I taught myself to program. Been making a good living building a wide variety of SW products. In the last 8 years of a 35 year career, I've been managing development projects. I would venture to say that - in my experience - the very best developers usually have a math background.

    BTW, computing interest and other such activities are examples of arithmetic not mathematics.

  • Robbzilla||

    I have a friend with a masters in math. She works at WalMart.*

    Is it because she's female and multi-racial? Or is it because a math degree by itself just isn't that marketable? It seems like a marine biology degree... cool sounding and difficult to attain, but ultimately not worth pursuing if you want a steady paycheck.

    *Part of why my friend isn't working in her field may also be the fact that she's unwilling to move out of Ohio.

  • XM||

    85% of grads with tech degrees are male.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    We have to biologically force men to not go into that field, so there would be more equal numbers of men to women.

  • Longtobefree||

    Re-institute the draft?

  • Slocum||

    And how many of those female math majors are planning be K12 teachers? And is Shikha (or pretty much anyone else) worried that 85% of those teachers are female -- a gender imbalance that has been growing more lopsided in recent decades?

  • Chip Woodier||

    OMWC has been trying to get into schools forever.

  • Chip Woodier||

    Is he even still around? I've let my commentariat membership slip.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    I was going to point out something similar - that the percentage of female math majors isn't relevant to the number of female computer (or any other) engineers because math =/= engineering.

  • Diane Merriam||

    I'm a woman that has spent most of her working life in male dominated fields. Yes, I've run up against sexism and even outright misogyny. But you know what? After reading his entire memo, there was not one thing in it I disagreed with. Men and women are different. Duh! I've always known I'm an outlier. Big deal. And the times I've run up against sexism that was anything more than a "what an idiot" (some of which were actually fun when I totally devastated their proclamations of natural superiority) to me were few and far between once I'd proven that I could actually do the work and didn't get the job just as a check off on some compliance list.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    "If I were a computer engineer struggling in Google's male-dominated culture and woke up one morning to read a mini treatise by a male colleague arguingGoogleMJMonty via Foter that innate biological differences between the sexes—not sexism—were to blame for the company's gender gap, I would be pretty damn pissed."

    Why would you be pissed? Would you assume that because it was a guy, it came straight from God? Is it because girls are too emotional? Why wouldn't you just agree with what was correct and disprove what was false?
    I didn't read his memo but did he say there was no sexism at Google?

  • Mickey Rat||

    Because having her assumptions questioned is upsetting, and if enough people are upset, then the questioner should be fired, even if the points made are valid or at least legitimately debatable. Her upsetment is more important than truth.

  • pxm||

    I also found that line of argument strange - if someone cites a factual statistics that men are responsible for the bulk of sexual assaults, I don't immediately think that person is insinuating I'm a rapist.

  • Mickey Rat||

    If the decision to fire Damore was right, not because he was saying anything that was factually indefensible, but merely because it contradicted the ideological assumptions of the diversity program and offended his coworker's sensibilities, then that does not say much goid about Google's corporate culture or the emotional and mental health of much if its workforce.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    ^^Hire snowflakes, slip in a puddle of water.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    " it would be understandably galling. But that doesn't mean that he is simply wrong, at least in his central claim that sexism may not be the main cause of the tech gender gap and that aggressive diversity hiring can't completely cure it."

    So, what is the galling part? Are you suggesting women can't read a proposition without having a hissy fit?

  • Mickey Rat||

    It is galling that the gender gap may not have any easy solutions and unforgivably rude to point that out.

  • Diane Merriam||

    The only possible "solution" to the gender gap is several more thousands of years of evolution or genetic manipulation when we can do it reliably. Men and women are different. Survival required different traits. Those last couple of months of pregnancy for a lot of women can be really hard - not exactly able to go out and hunt. Nor is it easy to hunt if you have to take care of a baby who cries, giving away location, and has to be fed. Women needed more help from others than men did, so social and language skills were much more important. There were no bottles or formula, so unless another woman in your group had had a child around the same time, there was only one possible source of food for them. And even if you had that option, one of you would still have to be staying back with the babies. Remember we're talking pure species survival here.

    Men are better at bursts of strength, particularly sprinting, and have more upper body strength. Women are better at endurance and have better hand eye coordination. These days most of those differences aren't very important anymore for the vast majority of jobs, but the genes don't know that.

    Adult personality is about 50/50 genetic/environmental so it doesn't matter how much you change the environment, on average, women are going to do things differently than men. It says nothing about any one specific woman, just averages and tendencies and that's all this guy's memo said.

  • ||

    I love how her micro-tantrum is further proving his use of the "controversial" clinic word of neurotic.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    " In America, 26 percent of women enroll in computer classes. That is in line with: Sweden—30 percent; New Zealand­—20 percent; and Canada—24 percent. But it's a whole lot less than: Thailan— 55 percent; Guyana —54 percent; Malaysia—51 percent; Iran and Zimbabwe—41 percent.

    Why is that? My guess is that when women are freed from the need to work for mere material survival and the forced drudgery of household chores, consulting instead their own inner capacities and desires to determine their professional destiny, technological fields sometimes lose their allure."

    I've been to some of those countries. The men are lazy as fuck. Yet they are dominant so they expect the women to take care of them. The women make the economy happen. You suggest it may be the rise of feminism there. No. There is no way feminism there has advanced beyond feminism in the West. It is the opposite of that. Women can make more money in tech fields so that's where they go. The menfolk have no problem with that because they are moochers. Just more money they can waste gambling with their buddies.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    In America, 26 percent of women enroll in computer classes. That is in line with: Sweden—30 percent; New Zealand­—20 percent; and Canada—24 percent. But it's a whole lot less than: Thailan— 55 percent; Guyana —54 percent; Malaysia—51 percent; Iran and Zimbabwe—41 percent

    I just want clarification as to what is meant by "Enroll in computer classes." That statement is so vague that I can't make any further conclusions about that data.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    "That statement is so vague"

    Sexist
    mansplaining
    galling

  • ||

    Iran —41 percent.

    Much better to be a female coder in Iran than to work at Google.

  • Chipper Morning, Now #1||

    Um ok, dude. I will tell all my male Persian friends that the reason Persian women go into tech fields is that they are lazy.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    While you're at it tell them to knock it off with their cheesy blue carpet, white statues, and gold curtain rods.

  • ||

    The dilemma of the Google memo is that all sides have a point.
    ...
    although he emphatically did not say that women don't have the technical chops to rise to top ranks, as many liberals are accusing him of doing

    If by 'all sides have a point' you mean one of them made a broad statement of largely fact and explicit conjecture while the other is effectively engaging in libel/slander then, sure, they both have a point.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    That's exactly what she means. A false point is still a point. In the magical land of Relativity, where everyone gets a trophy, everyone can be right.

  • Diane Merriam||

    It is a fact that there is a significant difference in the number of women vs men in various fields. It is a fact that in the hard sciences, engineering, and just geekiness in general have significantly fewer women than men. It is also a fact that men and women are different and, on average, make different choices when it comes to work. Both sides are right up to that point. What is *not* a fact is the claim that the *only* cause of the differences is sexist discrimination.

  • Dillinger||

    why the eff does it matter what percentages of which genders sign up for what classes?

  • Chipper Morning, Now #1||

    Sometimes it matters, and sometimes it doesn't.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    It matters this week.

    Next week, who knows.

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    It was kind of funny to see how the percentages signing up for shop class change when drills are de-emphasized in favor of pipecutters.

  • Rhywun||

    I'm still curious about this toxic masculinity that is supposedly so rampant at Google. If they're anything like any other huge corporation, they are walking on eggshells and handing out opportunities to "women and minorities" like party favors. Yet all we ever get are second- or third-hand anecdotes about "bro" culture (from nerds? yeah right). I'm not buying it.

  • creech||

    They walk on eggshells because the Left is organized and willing to damage these businesses if they don't get their way. For example, the CEO of Campbell's Soup pulled out of Trump's business counsil over his ham-handed attack on First Amendment deniers. SJWs in Philly were ramping up a boycott of tomato soup, etc. Now the Right seems much less organized and willing to boycott Campbells for giving in, or Google, or Walmart or any other corporation that caves in to the SJWs. CEOs aren't dumb - they respond to threats and incentives.

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    It really does speak to the destructive effects of boycotts. Boycotts don't necessarily violate the NAP but are nonetheless destructive of the free market in practice, as all types of collusion are.

    The market efficiency hypothesis assumes that buyers are only concerned with quality and price, not satisfying unrelated grudges against particular sellers.

  • Diane Merriam||

    Value is not solely monetary, nor should it be. Nor is it always rational. That is as much a fact of human nature as any other. There's no point in pretending that it's anything else. Doing so is just as bad as those who claim all the nonsense will work if we just have the "right" people in charge or just throw more money at it.

  • Longtobefree||

    Speculation; the right is actually working for a living, and does not have time enough to organize boycotts.
    Speculation; the right believes in freedom, and is willing to let idiots be idiots.
    Simple fact; the left will eventually prevail because while they can force people into subjugation, the right cannot force people to be free.

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    Let's not delude ourselves about the right's affinity for freedom.

    The left may win battles in the short term by just being more shrill, but it is ultimately doomed because their philosophy is incoherent and sterile, and ironically their political power based on giveaways that can only be paid for by leeching off the same free enterprise system they decry and fight against. As Thatcher said, they always eventually run out of other people's money; though they certainly can be overrun by foreign ideologies even before that.

    The real worry is not whether the left will be defeated, but by whom. If libertarians and conservatives don't do it, eventually some far more odious philosophy will. By the fascism that always grows up inside of leftism, as in the case of the USSR, Cuba, NK, and China? By the radical Islamists? Not sure, but it's not likely to be something compatible with freedom. That's why they must be defeated here and now.

  • MarkLastname||

    What?? The left is doomed to fail? And then you mention several leftist regimes as examples of who might 'defeat the left?' Or is this that stupid argument that socialist authoritarianism is actually right wing?

    But yeah, the real reason I should worry about Leninists and Maoists and man-hating feminists moving up in the institutions and trying to fuck me over because I'm an employed white male is because of how those mean conservatives might react.

  • MarkLastname||

    Good, I needed an article to remind me why I don't like Dalmia.

    No, both sides don't have a point. Damore's memo was civil, accurate, and fair. Google proved him right about them by firing him. Now that same company is amping up censorship of 'hate speech' (wrongthink) in YouTube.

    False. Equivalence.

  • Diane Merriam||

    The point the "other" side has is the basic fact that there *are* significantly fewer women than men in the hard sciences, engineering, and the hardcore tech world in general. The fact that they misdiagnose the cause of that difference doesn't invalidate the raw facts.

  • Longtobefree||

    Exercise for the student: Apply the above logic to global warming / climate change

  • MarkLastname||

    Observation of the phenomenon doesn't seem very meaningful when one abandons the assumption of discrimination. So there are few women in some field. My response would be, so what? Why is that more noteworthy than the dearth of male schoolteachers or nurses?

  • Blake||

    "How do you keep on the rolls a person who has alienated a chunk of his fellow workers?"

    It's more like a chunk of his fellow workers alienated him for telling the truth and you are saying that hurt feelings and mob mentality are more important than being able to speak your mind about current company policies. This is a terrible business decision because no developer will want to work somewhere that stating your opinion could get you fired regardless of how good you are at your job. If Google didn't want people talking about their policy they shouldn't have a discriminatory policy that prefers one gender over another.

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    I dunno bout that -- going on rants voicing controversial opinions at work has been a bad idea for a long time. And this guy wasn't anonymously commenting elsewhere in his spare time, he wrote this "manifesto" on a company network.

    I tend to agree that there was no way they could keep him on, but the insincerity of the way they fired him was off-putting. If they'd just said that he was fired for stirring up trouble with his fellow workers (which he did -- it's not like he didn't know how they would react) then they would be getting a lot less criticism.

  • Mark22||

    I dunno bout that -- going on rants voicing controversial opinions at work has been a bad idea for a long time.

    Neither, however, is subjecting your employees to endless left wing political drivel. Damore shouldn't have published the memo, however, he should simply have left quietly. In his defense, Google was explicitly asking for feedback and suggestions on their diversity policy.

    I tend to agree that there was no way they could keep him on

    Well, as an organization catering to feminists, they certainly couldn't. But traditionally, male-dominated organizations are pretty resilient to people disliking each other within the organization. That is, in a traditional professional context, people who despise each other on a personal level can still collaborate successfully technically.

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    But that's not the organization Damore was in, and he knew it.

    A company with a young, college-educated workforce that depends on drawing from that demographic pretty much has to cater to leftism at this point to some extent. Don't like that, do something about the colleges poisoning young minds with leftism.

  • croaker||

    Using that many nukes in population centers would be a bad thing.

  • Mark22||

    So you're saying that Google is a company full of leftists, totalitarian jerks and Damore forced them to show their hand publicly, either by having a real debate or by firing him.

    I don't see the problem. No matter how you look at it, the problem is still with Google, not with Damore. Damore is going to do fine: there are many employers to choose from. Google, on the other hand, is in trouble.

  • MarkLastname||

    If you paid attention to the responses by other 'googlers' you'd notice that going on political rants common among google employees; they are just usually leftist rants against men or white people; those of course have impunity.

    And it's bizarre that you're more critical of Damore being foolish enough to offend his moronic coworkers by criticizing anti-male discrimination than of Google for engaging in said anti-male discrimination.

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    I'm sort of confused about how being a math major is being used as a proxy. If I didn't know better I would think that metric is being cherry-picked because math majors have advantages in getting a K-12 teaching job, which leads a lot of women to go that route (as opposed to CS majors).

    To some extent, there is a correlation between aptitude for general math and aptitude for software and computer engineering. But the math it takes to graduate from college with a math degree? No. Real analysis and topology are not going to help with software development, and require skills that again aren't needed for such work.

    So making socially obtuse male employees sensitive to what they might be doing to inadvertently turn women away is not exactly akin to sending them to Soviet re-education camp.

    Except that's not remotely what the "diversity training programs" do or are designed to do.

    Seriously, socially obtuse males PAY PEOPLE to tell them what they're doing that women don't like. Google would not have to force them to participate and turn off the security cameras if that's what was offered.

  • Mark22||

    To some extent, there is a correlation between aptitude for general math and aptitude for software and computer engineering. But the math it takes to graduate from college with a math degree? No. Real analysis and topology are not going to help with software development, and require skills that again aren't needed for such work.

    To be clear: what makes places like Google effective at large scale software development is not the technical skills of individuals, it's how those individuals collaborate. Men are very good at fitting into large, anonymous hierarchies because men tend not to worry as much about interpersonal stuff as women. The kind of emotional and interpersonal investments women tend to want to make are great for protecting and raising kids, they are not that useful for building pyramids, going to war, or building billion-line software systems.

  • Don't look at me.||

    Sometimes, it is possible for every side in a dispute to be partly right and partly wrong.
    Unless the president says so. Then it's wrongthink.

  • earthandweather||

    I kind of feel like you haven't actually read the entire memo....? You seem to imply some malice on his part. I don't believe he wants to be seen as Moses bringing us the unquestionable truth - He was trying to start an honest conversation. I think he put forth a nobel effort and should be commended.

  • Lester224||

    The memo (I read it all) was trying to be reasonable. The worst thing in it IMO was saying that diversity hiring would "lower the bar". That's pretty bogus. The standards for hiring at someplace like Google are very high. You have to have top grades from good colleges and they give all sorts of tech tests incoming. Looking for a more varied workforce might change the skew of talent types slightly (maybe a few more good communicators, a few less brilliant social stumblers) but it's hardly likely to "lower the bar". The kinds of engineers they hire are in the top few percent of the engineering classes from top engineering schools, men or women.

    Danmore was ticked off that there were some women-only training classes (he has a point) and he didn't like the "unconscious bias" training. That's kind of thin skinned. You get all kinds of annoying training in big companies that has implications you might be a sexual harrasser, corrupt, stupid. Both men and women have to take the classes. The classes are to CYA for the company and prevent lawsuits.

  • Diane Merriam||

    Many, if not most, companies these days *do* lower the bar for women in fields that fewer women go into. They almost have to in order to avoid discrimination suits. But as a woman who has almost always worked in male dominated fields, that pisses the hell out of me. It means I have to work much harder at first just to prove that I actually *earned* the job I was hired for because so many other women hired *don't* have the same qualifications or work ethic as most men in those jobs and I can't blame the guys for being aware of that fact and resenting it.

  • ||

    Exactly. All these fembots complaining about womyn's self esteem in the workplace and then they go and push them in places where they de facto begin their job worrying if they are qualified and seen as qualified. Yikes. The same goes for "minority" groups too. It is self sabotaging at best.

  • Lester224||

    Either you're a man posing as a woman or you know very few women engineers. You can't get through engineering school by faking your scores because there are a ton of requirements and the tests have answers you can't fake and aren't arbitrary (you don't write a lot of essays). You don't get through a top-tier engineering program as a woman unless you have thick skin and good skills. The women engineers I've worked with at 3 high-tech companies have all been good engineers.

    I don't know maybe you're in finance or business where there is more leeway for getting through school and hiring?

  • rudehost||

    "How do you keep on the rolls a person who has alienated a chunk of his fellow workers"

    Dunno. I'll go out on a limb and guess the people in the company who threatened to either sabotage his projects or engage in actual violence against him managed to stay on. Maybe consult with google on how they made that work and apply the same to the guy who wrote the civil and reasonable memo?

  • macsnafu||

    I'm not familiar with this "Thailan" country. Is that anywhere close to Thailand? ;-)

  • cc2||

    It is easy to disprove the tabula rasa (blank slate) argument: Most parents strongly wish their children to follow their religion, politics, habits (like being thrifty), and child rearing methods--and a very large % of the time they fail on one or more of these objectives in spite of strenuous effort. How much harder to instill the essence of being male or female if it was just a cultural thing. Yes of course the specifics like wearing a dress or a coat and tie are cultural, but not the inclinations and behaviors.

  • CE||

    Silicon Valley (and high tech in general) is the most diverse employment market on Earth. Companies want to hire the best candidates, regardless of any extraneous factors. I worked at a startup with 100 employees, and they were born in 23 different countries. The bigger companies will bend over backward to find qualified women and minorities to hire and promote. That's not to say that harassment doesn't happen or that the environment can't be improved, but systematic discrimination just wouldn't make sense.

  • I'm Not Sure||

    "the bigger problem is the casual discrimination that stems not from an old-fashioned disdain toward women but a greater comfort level with the male, computer-nerd way of doing things that makes it difficult for women to flourish."

    Then start your own tech company, hire all those women who are unable to flourish doing things the male, computer-nerd way and show everybody how it's done.

  • Mark22||

    That advice seems to be too libertarian for Shikha.

  • BlueStarDragon||

    has any one in these studies ever figured that most women hate nerds because they are nerds? That their may be a good reason that nerds are known for having a hard time finding a date to began with. And having a nerd hating women around a bunch of nerds might have a bad reaction with them.

  • Elioron||

    People also seem to gloss over the fact that he actually made suggestions on how to incorporate women more effectively. Instead of trying to recruit more square pegs and fit them into the same round holes, change the hole to be more accepting so that more squares WANT to be there.

  • Mark22||

    There are many reasons other than political correctness—solid business reasons!—for Google to try and deal aggressively with the endemic sexism in its ranks

    The "endemic sexism" is a creation of women like you: if I as a man constantly have to worry about being accused of saying the wrong thing to a woman, of micro-aggressing against her, or of (heaven forbid) coming on to her, I'm going to do the rational and straightforward thing and simply avoid interacting with women altogether.

  • Set Us Up The Chipper||

    if I as a man constantly have to worry about being accused of saying the wrong thing to a woman

    Uhh...are you married?

  • Lester224||

    Umm.. Treat her like a person, don't come on to her and talk about work at work. Try keeping your mouth shut if something sexist comes to mind. If you are so worried about your company culture when it comes to women maybe you're working at the wrong place. If the place is too P.C. for you look around. Or start your own company.

  • Mark22||

    Treat her like a person, don't come on to her

    Why would I come on to a woman? I'm a gay man. That doesn't mean I'm safe from false accusations by feminists.

    and talk about work at work.

    Too bad women don't stick to that.

    If the place is too P.C. for you look around. Or start your own company.

    I've already done that, thank you very much.

  • Mark22||

    Indeed, as blogger Scott Alexander points out in his superb examination of the gender differences literature, although both sexes have identical math abilities

    No, both sexes do not have "identical math abilities", or identical IQs. Both sexes have identical average abilities, but distributions are not just described by averages. Men and women, in fact, have different variances when it comes to IQ and other cognitive abilities. That means that men dominate both at Google and in insane asylums.

    Oddly enough, feminists never want to equalize sex ratios in insane asylums. But, Shikha, you seem like an excellent candidate for some affirmative action in that department. How about it?

  • Incredulous||

    Or prisons, construction sites, etc. And they don't want to equalize life expectancy since men get the short end of the stick there. Of course, they could start by equalizing the absurd difference in job fatality rates (about 16-1 in favor of men). But no, they aren't interested in that either. They don't really want equality but favored status.

  • Mark22||

    But more than overt sexual advances, the bigger problem is the casual discrimination that stems not from an old-fashioned disdain toward women but a greater comfort level with the male, computer-nerd way of doing things that makes it difficult for women to flourish

    The computer-nerd way of doing things is simply the male way of doing things: men generally can shout at each other one minute, or make crude sexual remarks about each other, and get back into a productive working relationship the next. That's what bothers you and that's what you want to change. But male interaction styles are probably simply better for large scale cooperation: it's much easier for many people building complex stuff together if you don't constantly have to walk on eggshells around your coworkers, if you can tell someone that their work is crap without having to worry about them scheming against you or becoming passive aggressive (female interaction styles, whether you like it or not).

    The part that is so ironic about a "libertarian" woman like you complaining about computer nerds is that you don't take the obvious libertarian option: found your own goddamned company run according to your own goddamned female principles and show everybody how they are superior. Instead, you implicitly think of women as wage slaves in male-dominated corporations as if no other possibility existed.

  • ||

    Fundamentally, feminism does not build anything, it's entire philosophy is based on destroying things as is much of "progressivism"

  • Number 2||

    "One would have to be pretty cynical to pooh-pooh the steady stream of reports that Silicon Valley—80 percent male—is rife with sexism. Accusations of sexual harassment are frequent."

    Shouldn't any "fair assessment" of sexual harassment include consideration of how women provoke their harassers by being women? Kind of like how speakers provoke their hecklers by speaking?

  • ssgcmw||

    Did the article's author miss the part of the memo where James specifically offered recommendations to get more women interested in working at Google?

  • Longtobefree||

    Yep. By a mile.

  • Incredulous||

    Umm, no. They both don't have a point, only Damore does.

    And by firing him, they proved his point.

    He was exactly right on the science. And even if he was only 99% right, that shouldn't merit firing. If I was working at Google, I certainly wouldn't offer any dissenting opinions now. How is a company supposed to function effectively with that type of toxic culture? And how are they going to attract or retain talent or at least "diverse" talent now? If I'm not a favored ethnicity, gender or political persuasion, I'm certainly not going to apply there and if I already work there, I'm looking for the exit door.

  • croaker||

    Assuming you're not already on the blacklist.

  • Mark22||

    We should encourage blacklists like that: they save everybody time.

  • Lester224||

    Somehow I don't think there is going to be a mass exodus from Google due to this. Good salaries, interesting work, free food, free rides to work. That can make up for some mandatory training sessions and the necessity to conform to company policies you don't agree with. They shouldn't have fired him, though. Just made more bad publicity which they were trying to avoid in the first place.

  • ||

    Dalmia pulled a Trump, and I don't think this is satire...?

  • Jujucat||

    Why is it "news" when a guy at a company has an opinion and says what that opinion is? Luxury has hampered some people's brains I think.

  • Jujucat||

    P.S. I am a programmer AND a woman. WOW. I have never used math for this job. My male co-workers (which there a great many more than female) are great. I have experienced people who have differing opinions. I survived.

  • pxm||

    "My guess is that when women are freed from the need to work for mere material survival and the forced drudgery of household chores, consulting instead their own inner capacities and desires to determine their professional destiny, technological fields sometimes lose their allure."

    Aren't the countries that show higher percentage of women entering technical fields also the ones where traditionally female domestic roles are more prevalent? I can't imagine there are too many dads in paternity leave in Iran or Zimbabwe.

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