Google staffer’s hostility to affirmative action sparks furious backlash

Google staffer’s hostility to affirmative action sparks furious backlash

Manifesto arguing against promotion of race and gender diversity attributes lack of women in tech to ‘biological causes’

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Google staffer’s hostility to affirmative action sparks furious backlash” was written by Nicola Davis, for theguardian.com on Sunday 6th August 2017 11.43 UTC

A manifesto by a Google employee arguing against programmes to promote race and gender diversity and calling instead for an increase in “ideological diversity” has sparked a furious backlash.

The 10-page document, apparently written by a senior software engineer at the company, was initially circulated within Google but has since been aired on social media.

The manifesto argues that the lack of women in tech and leadership is, at least in part, down to different traits between men and women.

“I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership,” the author writes.

The manifesto also claims that men have a higher drive for status, that women might not like coding as they have a greater interest than men in “people and aesthetics”, and that the low number of women in “high stress jobs” is down to them having more “neuroticism”.

“We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism,” the author writes.

Google’s perceived political leanings also came under fire, with the author arguing that those with conservative views currently have to “stay in the closet” to dodge open hostility.

“When it comes to diversity and inclusion, Google’s left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence,” the author writes, adding that “conservatives tend to be higher in conscientiousness, which is required for much of the drudgery and maintenance work characteristic of a mature company”.

The manifesto, which was released in full by Gizmodo, has sparked anger and alarm among women in the US technology industry.

Brianna Wu, a US-based software engineer, questioned who was going to be fired over the manifesto, while Jaana Dogan, a programmer at Google, tweeted that she was “shaking in anger”, adding that if no action was taken by HR, she would consider leaving the company.

Some conservative commentators, including the internet host Tara McCarthy and the political scientist Charles Murray, supported the author of the document.

In response to the document, Google’s new vice-president of diversity, integrity and governance, Danielle Brown, issued an internal memo, obtained by Motherboard, saying the manifesto was “not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages”.

Brown noted that diversity and inclusion were critical to the company’s success, before adding: “Part of building an open, inclusive environment means fostering a culture in which those with alternative views, including different political views, feel safe sharing their opinions. But that discourse needs to work alongside the principles of equal employment found in our code of conduct, policies, and anti-discrimination laws.”

Despite the staffer’s manifesto’s claims that efforts to promote diversity were going too far, a recent government report found that Google was not doing enough to support women who work there. In April, the US Department of Labor said that it had found “systemic compensation disparities” against women across almost the whole of the company’s workforce. Janet Herold, the regional solicitor for the DoL, describing the discrimination against women at Google as “quite extreme”.

The vice-president of engineering at Google, Ari Balogh, also weighed in on the latest furore with an internal memo criticising the manifesto.

“One of the aspects of the post that troubled me deeply was the bias inherent in suggesting that most women, or men, feel or act a certain way. That is stereotyping, and it is harmful,” he wrote. “Building an open, inclusive environment is core to who we are, and the right thing to do. ‘Nuff said.”

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