Silicon Valley's Ultimate Diversity Problem Is Ideological
More tech folks call themselves libertarian than anything else. So why are they afraid to speak up at work?
Last year, Google engineer James Damore wrote a memo, called "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber," that led to him getting fired by the online giant. Damore was canned partly because Google said his discussion perpetuated gender stereotypes. But the memo didn't discuss just the number, status, and compensation of female employees—it also raised questions about Google's commitment to ideological diversity.
Earlier this year, the Lincoln Network, a Bay Area group that works to bolster libertarian and conservative workers in the tech sector, published a survey on diversity and cultural norms in Silicon Valley. The results are preliminary but stunning. In the wake of the controversy over the Damore memo, for instance, about half of self-described "moderates," two-thirds of "libertarians" and 71 percent of "very conservative" respondents said they were less comfortable sharing ideological viewpoints with their colleagues.
Reason sat down with Lincoln Network co-founder Garrett Johnson to discuss his outfit's preliminary study, why it's bad to stifle ideological viewpoints in the tech world, and what it means that more survey respondents called themselves libertarian than any other term.
Interview by Nick Gillespie. Edited by Ian Keyser. Cameras by Jim Epstein and Andrew Heaton.