-1.8 C
New York
Thursday, January 18, 2018
Home News Google’s fired engineer James Damore defends himself in national newspaper op-ed

Google’s fired engineer James Damore defends himself in national newspaper op-ed


James Damore, fired by Google over his memo arguing that biology may in part explain the scarcity of women in tech, has some advice to his former employer.

“If Google continues to ignore the very real issues raised by its diversity policies and corporate culture, it will be walking blind into the future — unable to meet the needs of its remarkable employees and sure to disappoint its billions of users,” the software engineer wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Aug. 11.

Damore’s sacking added fuel to America’s culture wars and led to plans for an alt-right “March on Google” protest for Aug. 19. In his op-ed, Damore noted that he’d argued in his memo that Google’s “ideological echo chamber” meant views such as his were suppressed within the company.

“My firing neatly confirms that point,” he wrote (paywall).

Get tech news in your inbox weekday mornings. Sign up for the free Good Morning Silicon Valley newsletter.

“How did Google, the company that hires the smartest people in the world, become so ideologically driven and intolerant of scientific debate and reasoned argument?”

Damore’s assertion of a possible biological basis for tech’s gender imbalance was examined by NYU Stern School of Business ethical leadership professor Jonathan Haidt and Sean Stevens, research director at Heterodox Academy, a group of professors dedicated to diversity of views in academia.
“Our verdict on Damore’s memo: Damore is correct that there are ‘population level differences in distributions’ of traits that are likely to be relevant for understanding gender gaps at Google,” Haidt and Stevens wrote on the Heterodox Academy website.
“There are gender differences in a variety of traits, and especially in interest/enjoyment (rather than ability) in the adult population from which Google and all other tech firms recruit.”
While Damore suggested biological differences between the genders could result in different abilities, the two researchers said distinguishing between ability and interest was “extremely important.”

“Population differences in interest may be part of the explanation for why there are fewer women in the applicant pool, but the women who choose to enter the pool are just as capable as the larger number of men in the pool,” Haidt and Stevens wrote.

View more  Harmonix unveils Dropmix, a music remix game with cards

“This conclusion does not deny that various forms of bias, harassment, and discouragement exist and contribute to outcome disparities, nor does it imply that the differences in interest are biologically fixed and cannot be changed in future generations.”

Photo: A Google data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa.  (AP Photo/Google, Connie Zhou, File)

Tags: Damore, engineer, fired, gender, Google, James Damore, Jonathan Haidt, memo, men, women