The Google software engineer who suggested that women are biologically less well-suited to engineering work in an internal memo last week was fired on Monday. Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote, "First, let me say that we strongly support the right of Googlers to express themselves, and much of what was in that memo is fair to debate, regardless of whether a vast majority of Googlers disagree with it. However, portions of the memo violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace."
The engineer, James Damore, told Reuters he was "fired for 'perpetuating gender stereotypes'" in his manifesto, "Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber." Gizmodo obtained the 10-page document, which elicited much commentary among Google employees on social media, noting that Damore "argues that women are underrepresented in tech not because they face bias and discrimination in the workplace, but because of inherent psychological differences between men and women."
For instance, Damore essentially says women, looking for a work-life balance, eschew opportunities to advance to positions of power while men are driven in their quest for status.
Google's new Vice President of Diversity, Integrity & Governance Danielle Brown sent a memo to employees; according to Motherboard, she wrote, "Many of you have read an internal document shared by someone in our engineering organization, expressing views on the natural abilities and characteristics of different genders, as well as whether one can speak freely of these things at Google. And like many of you, I found that it advanced incorrect assumptions about gender. I'm not going to link to it here as it's not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages."
Reuters reports, "Damore said he was exploring all possible legal remedies, and that before being fired, he had submitted a charge to the U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) accusing Google upper management of trying to shame him into silence."
Pichai's note adds, "Our job is to build great products for users that make a difference in their lives. To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK. It is contrary to our basic values and our Code of Conduct, which expects 'each Googler to do their utmost to create a workplace culture that is free of harassment, intimidation, bias and unlawful discrimination.'"
Susan Fowler, the former Uber engineer who helped reveal Uber's culture of sexual harassment, was amused/resigned by the memo:
I can't help laughing at this Googler's misogynist manifesto because it reminds me of what one female Uber HR rep told me— Susan J. Fowler (@susanthesquark) August 7, 2017
She told me that, in her experience, there were more Asian women in accounting because Asian women are just really good with numbers.— Susan J. Fowler (@susanthesquark) August 7, 2017
Likewise, she said, there were more white men in engineering because white men were simply more suited for engineering than others!— Susan J. Fowler (@susanthesquark) August 7, 2017
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg added, "Inequality in tech isn’t due to gender differences. It’s due to cultural stereotypes that persist. We all need to do more."
The Department of Labor is investigating Google over an alleged gender pay gap.