Google Fires Engineer Who Wrote Controversial Anti-Diversity Memo

Wednesday, 09 Aug, 2017

Google CEO Sundar Pichai discussed the matter at length and reminded everyone that the company believed totally in free speech.

In the wake of Google's firing of engineer James Damore over his memo suggesting women are biologically unsuitable for tech and leadership jobs, the company is scrambling to limit the damage and calm the troops.

According to a report in CNN Money, Pichai condemned portions of the controversial memo that argued that women are not "biologically fit" for tech roles.

Software engineer James Damore wrote a widely shared memo that criticized the company's diversity initiatives.

The reactions internally have been fierce and divisive. State laws of California also protect employees' rights to have a political ideology and express it freely, while internal policy might also be used to support his claims.

A line in Damore's memo about women being more prone to anxiety has drawn particular ire - as if the author made this up. Conservative sites like The Federalist saw the firing as proof of Damore's point that Google does not tolerate diversity of opinion.

One former female employee remembers her colleagues using the forums to complain about executives, share their religious beliefs and explain why they were anarchists.

That may have paved the way for this employee to feel comfortable sharing an offensive post.

While the document has led to outrage publicly, the author says he has heard from many fellow employees who thanked him and agree with him, CNBC.com reported.

Discrimination lawsuits might not directly target a Google decision not to fire Damore but could cite it as evidence of a "hostile work environment", said Segal. "To suggest that these kind of attitudes don't bleed into someone's day to day work seems dangerously optimistic".

A Google spokesperson said Tuesday that the company could not have retaliated because it was unaware of his labor complaint until reading about it in the media after his dismissal.

"I can't even imagine how much time and emotional energy has been sunk into this, not to mention reputational harm more broadly", Zunger wrote in a blog post. He then linked to Damore's manifesto, which, again, is 10 pages of pedantry chronicling why women are stupid at maths and too emotional to work in tech.

The memo stoked a heated debate over treatment of women in the male-dominated Silicon Valley that has boiled for months following sexual harassment scandals at Uber Technologies Inc and several venture capital firms.

"Dear @Google, Stop teaching my girl that her path to financial freedom lies not in coding but in complaining to HR". He also held one of Google's coveted intern positions the summer before.

Ellis said Google promotes employees and determines salaries based on peer evaluations.

The reductive, sexist and damaging ideas set out in the "Google manifesto" are familiar to us at the Women's Equality Party. Google has repeatedly refused to actually release those numbers. Progress has been slow coming. It has endorsed by more than 100 people in the tech and games industries.