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Anti-diversity memo causes a stir at Google

Tuesday - 08/08/2017 04:04
The memo was shared on Google's internal networks, as well as its own platform Google+, and obtained and published in full by Gizmodo.
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Getty

From Digital Spy

A 10-page rant against diversity initiatives at Google written by one of its own engineers, has gone viral within the company – prompting a formal response from senior figures.

The memo was shared on Google's internal networks, as well as its own platform Google+, and obtained and published in full by Gizmodo.

Written by a male software engineer working from the company's Mountain View campus, the text is titled "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber", and has a huge amount to say about perceived left-wing bias within the company, as well as supposed psychological and physiological differences between men and women.

Most controversially, it argues that women aren't under-represented in tech because of institutional discrimination, but because there are biological reasons that make women less interested in software engineering and find it harder to ask for what they want.

"We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism," the memo's author writes, going on to claim that women are generally more interested in people than things (unlike men), and that some of Google's educational programmes targeted at women may be misguided.

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"At Google, we're regularly told that implicit (unconscious) and explicit biases are holding women back in tech and leadership. Of course, men and women experience bias, tech, and the workplace differently and we should be cognizant of this, but it's far from the whole story."

The writer also argues that women are more interested in work / life balance, and men in status, and that women display higher levels of neuroticism than men, leading to more work-related anxiety.

"When it comes to diversity and inclusion," he writes, "Google's left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence."

The memo also goes on to talk about race and what the author considers "discriminatory practices" such as training programmes targeted at people of a specific race, minimum levels of racial representation within the company, and special treatment for diversity candidates.

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"I hope it's clear that I'm not saying that diversity is bad, that Google or society is 100% fair, that we shouldn't try to correct for existing biases, or that minorities have the same experience of those in the majority," he adds. "My larger point is that we have an intolerance for ideas and evidence that don't fit a certain ideology."

Needless to say, the widely-shared tract has ruffled some feathers. In fact, Google has officially responded on the topic in a message from the VP of Diversity, Integrity and Governance, Danielle Brown, also published via Gizmodo.

"Many of you have read an internal document shared by someone in our engineering organisation, expressing views on the natural abilities and characteristics of different genders, as well as whether one can speak freely of these things at Google," she wrote.

"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.

"Diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of our values and the culture we continue to cultivate. We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company, and we'll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul."

Photo credit: Getty Images

Google released global diversity statistics last year revealing that 69% of its staff are male, 31% female. However, only 19% of the company's technical roles are held by women.

In terms of racial diversity, the company is still largely white. Only 2% of employees are black, and 3% are Hispanic, whilst 59% are white and 32% are Asian.

In 2015, Google said that it would invest $150m (around £115m) in diversity, but clearly an unexpected backlash has emerged internally.


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 Key: Google

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