Science / Tech, Social Science

The Google Memo: Four Scientists Respond

Lee Jussim

Professor Lee Jussim

Lee Jussim is a professor of social psychology at Rutgers University and was a Fellow and Consulting Scholar at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University (2013-15).  He has served as chair of the Psychology Department at Rutgers University and has received the Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Prize, and the APA Early Career Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology.  He has published numerous articles and chapters and edited several books on social perception, accuracy, self-fulfilling prophecies, and stereotypes. His most recent book, Social Perception and Social Reality: Why Accuracy Dominates Bias and Self-Fulfilling Prophecy, ties that work together to demonstrate that people are far more reasonable and rational, and their judgments are typically far more accurate than social psychological conventional wisdom usually acknowledges. You can follow the twitter account: @PsychRabble for updates from his lab.

The author of the Google essay on issues related to diversity gets nearly all of the science and its implications exactly right. Its main points are that: 1. Neither the left nor the right gets diversity completely right; 2. The social science evidence on implicit and explicit bias has been wildly oversold and is far weaker than most people seem to realize; 3. Google has, perhaps unintentionally, created an authoritarian atmosphere that has stifled discussion of these issues by stigmatizing anyone who disagrees as a bigot and instituted authoritarian policies of reverse discrimination; 4. The policies and atmosphere systematically ignore biological, cognitive, educational, and social science research on the nature and sources of individual and group differences. I cannot speak to the atmosphere at Google, but: 1. Give that the author gets everything else right, I am pretty confident he is right about that too; 2. It is a painfully familiar atmosphere, one that is a lot like academia.

Here, I mainly focus on the reactions to the essay on the Gizmodo site, which indirectly and ironically validate much of the author’s analysis. Very few of the comments actually engage the arguments; they just fling insults and slurs. Yes, slurs. In 1960, the most common slurs were insulting labels for demographic groups. In 2017, the most common slurs involve labelling anyone who you disagree with on issues such as affirmative action, diversity, gaps, and inequality as a racist, sexist, homophobe, or bigot.

This starts with the title of the Gizmodo post, which labels the article as a “screed,” which dictionary.com defines as a “rant.”

This essay may not get everything 100% right, but it is certainly not a rant. And it stands in sharp contrast to most of the comments, which are little more than snarky modern slurs. The arrogance of most of the comments reflects exactly the type of smug self-appointed superiority that has led to widespread resentment of the left among reasonable people. To the extent that such views correspond to those at Google, they vindicate the essayist’s claims about the authoritarian and repressive atmosphere there. Even the response by Google’s new VP in charge of diversity simply ignores all of the author’s arguments, and vacuously affirms Google’s commitment to diversity. The essay is vastly more thoughtful, linked to the science, and well-reasoned than nearly all of the comments. If I had one recommendation, it would be this: That, before commenting on these issues, Google executives read two books: John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty and Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind.

Mill: “…unmeasured vituperation employed on the side of the prevailing opinion, really does deter people from professing contrary opinions, and from listening to those who profess them.”

Haidt: “If you think that moral reasoning is something we do to figure out the truth, you’ll be constantly frustrated by how foolish, biased, and illogical people become when they disagree with you.”

Lee Jussim’s recommended reading list on this topic can be found below. 

David P Schmitt

Professor David P Schmitt

Since earning his bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. in personality psychology from the University of Michigan David P. Schmitt has authored or co-authored more than 50 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. He is founder and director of the International Sexuality Description Project (ISDP). The ISDP is among the largest-ever cross-cultural research teams, involving over 200 psychologists from nearly 60 countries around the world whose collaborative studies investigate how culture, personality, and gender combine to influence sexual attitudes and behaviors.served two terms as Chair of the Psychology Department at Bradley University from 2005-2010. He blogs at Psychology Today and you can follow him on Twitter @PsychoSchmitt

A Google employee recently shared a memo that referenced some of my scholarly research on psychological sex differences (e.g., personality traits, mate preferences, status-seeking). Alongside other evidence, the employee argued, in part, that this research indicates affirmative action policies based on biological sex are misguided. Maybe, maybe not. Let me explain.

I think it’s really important to discuss this topic scientifically, keeping an open mind and using informed skepticism when evaluating claims about evidence. In the case of personality traits, evidence that men and women may have different average levels of certain traits is rather strong. For instance, sex differences in negative emotionality are universal across cultures; developmentally emerge across all cultures at exactly the same time; are linked to diagnosed (not just self-reported) mental health issues; appear rooted in sex differences in neurology, gene activation, and hormones; are larger in more gender egalitarian nations; and so forth (for a short review of this evidence, see here.)

But it is not clear to me how such sex differences are relevant to the Google workplace. And even if sex differences in negative emotionality were relevant to occupational performance (e.g., not being able to handle stressful assignments), the size of these negative emotion sex differences is not very large (typically, ranging between “small” to “moderate” in statistical effect size terminology; accounting for less than 10% of the variance). So, using someone’s biological sex to essentialize an entire group of people’s personality would be like operating with an axe. Not precise enough to do much good, probably will cause a lot of harm. Moreover, men are more emotional than women in certain ways, too. Sex differences in emotion depend on the type of emotion, how it is measured, where it is expressed, when it is expressed, and lots of other contextual factors.

As to sex differences in mate preferences and status-seeking, these topics also have been heavily researched across cultures (for a review, see here).  Again, though, most of these sex differences are moderate in size and in my view are unlikely to be all that relevant to the Google workplace (accounting for, perhaps, a few percentage points of the variability between men’s and women’s performances). Sex differences in occupational interests, personal values, and certain cognitive abilities are a bit larger in size (see here), but most psychological sex differences are only small to moderate in size, and rather than grouping men and women into dichotomous groups, I think sex and sex differences are best thought of scientifically as multidimensional dials, anyway (see here.)

Now, treating people as dichotomous sexes is exactly what many affirmative action policies do. As this is not my area of expertise, I can only offer my non-expert opinion on this issue, which is this: There have been (and likely will continue to be) many socio-structural barriers to women working in technological jobs. These include culturally-embedded gender stereotypes, biased socialization practices, in some cultures explicit employment discrimination, and a certain degree of masculinization of technological workplaces. Within this sea of gender bias, should Google use various practices (affirmative action is not just one thing) to especially encourage capable women of joining (and enjoying) the Google workplace? I vote yes. At the same time, should we be able to openly discuss and be informed by some of the real psychological sex differences that might account for variation in men’s and women’s workplace performance? In the right context, I vote yes to that, too.

Geoffrey Miller

Associate Professor Geoffrey Miller

Geoffrey Miller is an evolutionary psychology professor at University of New Mexico. He is the author of The Mating Mind, Mating Intelligence, Spent, and What Women Want. His research has focused on sexual selection, mate choice, human sexuality, intelligence, humor, creativity, personality traits, evolutionary psychopathology, behavior genetics, consumer behavior, evolutionary aesthetics, research ethics, virtue signaling, and Effective Altruism. He did a podcast called The Mating Grounds; you can follow him on Twitter @primalpoly.

An anonymous male software engineer recently distributed a memo titled ‘Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber’. Within hours, this memo unleashed a firestorm of negative commentary, most of which ignored the memo’s evidence-based arguments. Among commentators who claim the memo’s empirical facts are wrong, I haven’t read a single one who understand sexual selection theory, animal behavior, and sex differences research.

When the memo went viral, thousands of journalists and bloggers transformed themselves overnight from not understanding evolutionary psychology at all to claiming enough expertise to criticize the whole scientific literature on biological sex differences.

It was like watching Trinity downloading the pilot program for flying the B-212 helicopter in The Matrix. Such fast learners! (Even Google’s new ‘VP of Diversity’, Danielle Brown, criticized the memo because it ‘advanced incorrect assumptions about gender’; I was impressed to see that her Michigan State B.A. in Business and her U. Michigan M.B.A. qualify her to judge the scientific research.)

For what it’s worth, I think that almost all of the Google memo’s empirical claims are scientifically accurate. Moreover, they are stated quite carefully and dispassionately. Its key claims about sex differences are especially well-supported by large volumes of research across species, cultures, and history. I know a little about sex differences research. On the topic of evolution and human sexuality, I’ve taught for 28 years, written 4 books and over 100 academic publications, given 190 talks, reviewed papers for over 50 journals, and mentored 11 Ph.D. students. Whoever the memo’s author is, he has obviously read a fair amount about these topics. Graded fairly, his memo would get at least an A- in any masters’ level psychology course. It is consistent with the scientific state of the art on sex differences. (Blank slate gender feminism is advocacy rather than science: no gender feminist I’ve met has ever been able to give a coherent answer to the question ‘What empirical findings would convince you that psychological sex differences evolved?’)

Here, I just want to take a step back from the memo controversy, to highlight a paradox at the heart of the ‘equality and diversity’ dogma that dominates American corporate life. The memo didn’t address this paradox directly, but I think it’s implicit in the author’s critique of Google’s diversity programs. This dogma relies on two core assumptions:

  • The human sexes and races have exactly the same minds, with precisely identical distributions of traits, aptitudes, interests, and motivations; therefore, any inequalities of outcome in hiring and promotion must be due to systemic sexism and racism;
  • The human sexes and races have such radically different minds, backgrounds, perspectives, and insights, that companies must increase their demographic diversity in order to be competitive; any lack of demographic diversity must be due to short-sighted management that favors groupthink.

The obvious problem is that these two core assumptions are diametrically opposed.

Let me explain. If different groups have minds that are precisely equivalent in every respect, then those minds are functionally interchangeable, and diversity would be irrelevant to corporate competitiveness. For example, take sex differences. The usual rationale for gender diversity in corporate teams is that a balanced, 50/50 sex ratio will keep a team from being dominated by either masculine or feminine styles of thinking, feeling, and communicating. Each sex will counter-balance the other’s quirks. (That makes sense to me, by the way, and is one reason why evolutionary psychologists often value gender diversity in research teams.) But if there are no sex differences in these psychological quirks, counter-balancing would be irrelevant. A 100% female team would function exactly the same as a 50/50 team, which would function the same as a 100% male team. If men are no different from women, then the sex ratio in a team doesn’t matter at any rational business level, and there is no reason to promote gender diversity as a competitive advantage.

Likewise, if the races are no different from each other, then the racial mix of a company can’t rationally matter to the company’s bottom line. The only reasons to value diversity would be at the levels of legal compliance with government regulations, public relations virtue-signalling, and deontological morality – not practical effectiveness. Legal, PR, and moral reasons can be good reasons for companies to do things. But corporate diversity was never justified to shareholders as a way to avoid lawsuits, PR blowback, or moral shame; it was justified as a competitive business necessity.

So, if the sexes and races don’t differ at all, and if psychological interchangeability is true, then there’s no practical business case for diversity.

On the other hand, if demographic diversity gives a company any competitive advantages, it must be because there are important sex differences and race differences in how human minds work and interact. For example, psychological variety must promote better decision-making within teams, projects, and divisions. Yet if minds differ across sexes and races enough to justify diversity as an instrumental business goal, then they must differ enough in some specific skills, interests, and motivations that hiring and promotion will sometimes produce unequal outcomes in some company roles. In other words, if demographic diversity yields any competitive advantages due to psychological differences between groups, then demographic equality of outcome cannot be achieved in all jobs and all levels within a company. At least, not without discriminatory practices such as affirmative action or demographic quotas.

So, psychological interchangeability makes diversity meaningless. But psychological differences make equal outcomes impossible. Equality or diversity. You can’t have both.

Weirdly, the same people who advocate for equality of outcome in every aspect of corporate life, also tend to advocate for diversity in every aspect of corporate life. They don’t even see the fundamentally irreconcilable assumptions behind this ‘equality and diversity’ dogma.

Why didn’t the thousands of people working to promote equality and diversity in corporate America acknowledge this paradox? Why did it take a male software engineer at Google who’s read a bunch of evolutionary psychology? I suspect that it’s a problem of that old tradeoff between empathizing and systematizing that I wrote about in this Quillette article on neurodiversity and free speech. The high empathizers in HR and the diversity industry prioritize caring for women and minorities over developing internally coherent, evidence-based models of human nature and society. High systematizers, such as this memo’s author, prioritize the opposite. Indeed, he explicitly calls for ‘de-emphasizing empathy’ and ‘de-moralizing diversity’, arguing that ‘being emotionally unengaged helps us better reason about the facts’. He is right.

His most important suggestion though is apparently the most contentious: ‘Be open about the science of human nature’. He writes ‘Once we acknowledge that not all differences are socially constructed or due to discrimination, we open our eyes to a more accurate view of the human condition which is necessary if we actually want to solve problems.’ This is also correct. If American businesses want to remain competitive in a global market, they must open their eyes to the research, and ground their policies in the known facts about the genetic evolution of sex differences, rather than blank slate delusions about the ‘social construction of gender’.

American businesses also have to face the fact that the demographic differences that make diversity useful will not lead to equality of outcome in every hire or promotion. Equality or diversity: choose one. In my opinion, given that sex differences are so well-established, and the sexes have such intricately complementary quirks, it may often be sensible, in purely practical business terms, to aim for more equal sex ratios in many corporate teams, projects, and divisions.

The evolutionary psychology research on sex differences is one of the best reasons to promote sexual diversity in the workplace – and one of the best reasons to expect that there may still be some inequalities of outcome in particular jobs, companies, and industries.

Debra W Soh

Debra W Soh PhD 

Debra W Soh is a Toronto based science writer who has a PhD in sexual neuroscience from the University of York. Her dissertation used four types of neuroimaging, including structural and functional MRI, to investigate brain differences associated with sexual orientation, paraphilias (or unusual sexual interests), and hypersexuality. You can find her columns in The Globe and Mail, Playboy, LA Times and elsewhere. You can also follow her on Twitter @DrDebraSoh

As a woman who’s worked in academia and within STEM, I didn’t find the memo offensive or sexist in the least. I found it to be a well thought out document, asking for greater tolerance for differences in opinion, and treating people as individuals instead of based on group membership.

Within the field of neuroscience, sex differences between women and men—when it comes to brain structure and function and associated differences in personality and occupational preferences—are understood to be true, because the evidence for them (thousands of studies) is strong. This is not information that’s considered controversial or up for debate; if you tried to argue otherwise, or for purely social influences, you’d be laughed at.

Sex researchers recognize that these differences are not inherently supportive of sexism or stratifying opportunities based on sex. It is only because a group of individuals have chosen to interpret them that way, and to subsequently deny the science around them, that we have to have this conversation at a public level. Some of these ideas have been published in neuroscientific journals—despite having faulty study methodology—because they’ve been deemed socially pleasing and “progressive.” As a result, there’s so much misinformation out there now that people genuinely don’t know what to believe.

No matter how controversial it is or how great the pushback, I believe it’s important to speak out, because if we can’t discuss scientific truths, where does that leave us?

***

 

Lee Jussim’s Recommended Reading

Haidt & Jussim, May 16, 2016, Hard Truths about Race on Campus. Wall Street Journal.

Jussim, L. (2017). Why to Girls Tend to Prefer Non-STEM Careers? Psychology Today.

Jussim, L. (2017). Gender Bias in STEM or Biased Claims of Gender Bias? Psychology Today.

Ceci & Williams (2011). Understanding current causes of women’s underrepresentation in science. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108, 3157-3162.

Duarte et al (2015). Political diversity will improve social psychological science. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, doi:10.1017/S0140525X14000430, e130

Pinker, S. (2002). The Blank Slate. New York: Penguin Books

Wang et al (2013). Not lack of ability but more choice: Individual and gender differences in choice in careers in science, technology, engineering and math. Psychological Science, 24, 770-775.

Williams & Ceci (2015). National hiring experiments reveal 2:1 faculty preference for women on STEM tenure track. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112, 5360-5365.

Quillette Magazine
Follow us:

Quillette Magazine

A platform for free thought
Quillette Magazine
Follow us:

Latest posts by Quillette Magazine (see all)

178 Comments

  1. Pingback: Google diversity rant causes Cultural Marxist meltdown? - Page 13

  2. Pingback: New top story on Hacker News: The Google Memo: Four Scientists Respond – The Internet Yard

  3. Pingback: Quillette: Psychologists Claim Google Viewpoint Diversity Manifesto Is Scientifically Accurate - Telzilla

  4. Pingback: This is just wonderful about the Google Diversity piece | Tim Worstall

  5. Pingback: The only good rebuttal of the Googler’s memo that I’ve seen | meshedsociety.com

  6. Leigh says

    Just read the ‘screed’, and by god, if that’s all it takes to get fired these days we’ve already entered a world of quasi-authoritarianism. It’s an utterly hysterical overreaction to what’s otherwise a very well written and calm critique of Google’s policies (with rather decent suggestions to improve things, mind you).

    • Keith says

      Yes, we’ve firmly entered a world where reality cannot be tolerated, or even rationally discussed, by 1/3 to 1/2 of the general Western population.

      Diversity can be a strength in business, but you have to:

      1) Understand what makes various groups different from each other. Both physically and mentally.
      2) Hire based not on arbitrary outcomes, but on your business needs for specific mindsets.

      A simple example would be an American company that wants to do business in Asia. Hiring an english-speaking Asian, or an American with Asian business experience (or both) is a no-brainer.

      Is your company too conservative? Is it failing to capitalize on new trends? Hire some people who are more liberal.

      Does your company lack focus and an ability to follow through on its initiatives? Hire more conservatives.

      Is your internal culture too cut-throat? Is nobody cooperating or sharing information? Hire more women. They’ll civilize you.

      Diversity should be seen as a tool. Not a dogma with arbitrary quotas and an expectation of equal outcomes for all.

      • “Is your internal culture too cut-throat? Is nobody cooperating or sharing information? Hire more women. They’ll civilize you.”

        Hmm. I work in English language teaching, a field that is very female dominated (all my bosses have been women, over a 30 years stretch, and at a rough guesstimate about 70 to 80% of my colleagues). I have found that even with this guaranteed preponderance of women, cooperation and sharing information vary widely between workplaces and have been totally absent in some. I honestly don’t think women=more cooperation necessarily, though no doubt it’s a canny first step. What you need for more cooperation and sharing of information is (a) a single photocopying machine with unlimited access to paper and a corkboard next to it (the modern equivalent, increasingly, would be a well-greased communal OneDrive or DropBox), (b) an intelligent management policy of prioritizing teamwork, (c) greater job security as manifested in low staff turnover, (d) birthday celebrations involving chocolate cake. Just my 2c. I haven’t conducted double blind tests to confirm any of this.

      • “Yes, we’ve firmly entered a world where reality cannot be tolerated, or even rationally discussed, by 1/3 to 1/2 of the general Western population.”

        Animals are most aggressive when they are cornered and afraid. Perhaps this is what is going on here?

        Media has skewed left for quite a while, and despite their penchant for telling people what to think, how to think, and how evil certain people are who express different opinions, there is a vast silent majority out there who haven’t been buying it. They’ve been quiet for a long time. No one wants to be called a bad person, after all. And to watch the news, they’ve probably gotten the impression that they’re in the minority.

        At the same time, left unchecked, the left has also been moving more to the left, dragging the media with it. That silent majority got consternated enough by this top-down attempt to shift the Overton window that it has started to push back.

        The pushback has largely been quite mild, and mostly indicative of two separate Overton windows–the range of allowable thought as defined by the media, and the one as defined by a huge number of ordinary citizens.

        I have seen a massive increase in what I would call “fear aggression” on the part of the left since Trump won the election. And I actually don’t think Trump is what these people are afraid of. What they are afraid of is the fact that despite the fact that they own most of the media, and despite the fact that something like 90% of the media coverage of Trump was negative (some of it positively vitriolic), despite the misrepresentations they were prepared to engage in, despite their characterizations of anyone who’d vote Trump as [insert your preferred “ist” or “obe” here], despite having their tongues so far up HRC’s anus she could taste their breath mints… despite all of that, Trump won.

        They believed they owned public opinion on the issues they care about. They discovered that they don’t. They seem incapable of understanding what happened and why, or the part they played in the outcome. All they know is they’ve lost the stranglehold on public opinion and it terrifies them.

        I once described it like how Caesar would feel if someone had the balls to scratch “Caesar is cancer” on the doors of a building in downtown Rome. He’d be afraid, too. He’d be thinking, “if there’s one plebe out there with the balls to write that, how many others are thinking it? Better make an example of that guy real quick so that those other plebes don’t start getting ideas.”

        The more it happens, the more brutal the responses will get, even if the latest crime was writing, “Caesar ain’t all he’s cracked up to be” or “Caesar isn’t infallible”.

        No matter how cogent your arguments and how accurate your analysis, if he wants to hold onto power, everything in his being will be telling him to squash you like a bug. And ironically, if he really does suck as a leader, that impulse will be stronger. He has no counterargument. There is no refutation he can make. All he has on his side of the debate is brutality. But because he wants to maintain power, he’ll engage in it, even though in doing so he turns all those graffitied messages into self-fulfilling prophesies.

        The echo chamber of “Caesar is the greatest leader EVAH!” must be protected at all costs. To change course now would be to admit fallibility. Hence Danielle Brown’s statement that Google remains unequivocally committed to its course of action. Hence the firing of the graffiti artist and his public smearing.

    • Scientist G says

      I think a good analogy is in order.

      Say I own a bar. And the patrons of the bar tend to be overwhelmingly men. I think to myself that I would like to make more money by attracting a more diverse set of patrons. But to do so, I must analyze why my patrons consist of a very narrow demographic set.

      One theory might be the bouncer at the door is a terrible misogynist, and won’t let anyone other than men. Another might be the patrons themselves are misogynist, and overtly or subtly make more diverse patrons feel uncomfortable.

      But those are just theories, rather silly ones in fact. The bouncer works for me – I can see what he is doing, and he never turns anyone away, especially not women. Also the patrons – I have spoken to them, and they have all indicated they would welcome women in the bar.

      At this point, I might look to other possible causes. Perhaps women would be more attracted to the bar with a different décor, or different drinks on the menu? Perhaps women just don’t go to bars as often as men?

      Goggle’s problem, as pointed out in the paper, is they are stuck on one possible explanation – the hiring practices and employees are making women unwelcome. Despite decades of work, and reams of data suggesting neither is actually the problem, they remain stuck on this one silly idea. Hence the problem never gets resolved.

      What the paper proposes is to recognize the potential for other causes. Some of these may be fixable by the bar, some may not be. Making the work more welcoming to women by changing how the work is done is proposed as an answer. Another answer proposed by the paper is that this problem is not fixable because the underlying cause is biological. Both deserve to be investigated.

      And perhaps, just perhaps, endless harassment and re-training of Google’s employees has served its purpose, and can be discontinued.

    • Brad says

      Right-wing capitalist corporations are authoritarian? Who knew?

      • Chris says

        Nice deflection Brad. We all know the best Authoritarians are leftist zealots. Your buddies Lenin, Mao, Stalin, the Castro brothers all would give you a big high five.

  7. Christopher Chang says

    I’ve only started reading this article, and I almost want to cry. This has restored some of my faith in humanity. Thank you.

    A quick thought regarding Lee Jussim’s comments about Google: I don’t think the executives will be taking you up on your recommendations, because I don’t think they care about principle. If you take a cynical view that Google is promoting diversity for PR, it all makes sense, especially if you consider that the typical knee-jerk commenter is precisely reflective of the audience that they are shooting for. It seems that they are merely preaching to the choir.

  8. Pingback: Gender Equality and Google: Some Lessons for ISKCON – Akincana

  9. Pingback: An Inauspicious Day For Google

  10. Darren Smith says

    The author of the Google memo just became a free speech martyr. Google has for many years proclaimed a monolithic culture among its employees. Essentially the company organized and continues to promote this culture and through rich compensation it wins the hearts and minds of its employees.

    As time progresses, I suspect this culture will become more concentrated, xenophobic to other opinions, and will use tactics such as shaming and termination to maintain a status quo.

    On another note, after Denial of Service attack waged against quillette for publishing the social scientist’s opinions largely in support of the Google employee’s essay, hopefully it will result in more patrons subscribing.

    • For the millionth time free speech is freedom of speech from government entities, not private organizations like Google.

      • So, what “corporate code” did the fired engineer exactly violate that warranted dismissal? And since when is a critical stance towards one’s own company grounds for dismissal? You can’t fire anyone just because they disagree with you, at least you better be sure to expect a nice juicy lawsuit.

        • In fact, legally, you can fire someone even if it’s for exercising free speech, at least in the US.

          But IMO there’s another issue at stake here: how does Google expect to be in any way successful in its diversity efforts if it cannot accept a dissenting opinion? In a smarter company, this guy would be considered a valuable resource – it’s very difficult to find people capable of a critical assessment of a company they feel well about, and it’s invaluable, if you really want continuous improvement.

          I have a feeling that this will backfire, for Google. I don’t expect any high profile lawsuit – if there’s any base for suing, Google and Damore will most likely settle things before going to court. But as the actual contents of the memo, rather than just hearsay about it, start to be better known, Google will look increasingly bad. Making it even less likely for women to go get a job there.

          • Gandydancer says

            Actually it’s not as simple as that. California is an “at-will employment” state, but there’s an exception for implied contracts of employment. And here the company encouraged posting on the subject, apparently making false claims about its tolerance, and there’s a fraud issue. Plus defamation in its statements about the cause of the firing.

          • Gandydancer says

            Why would the information that they are going to get even more discrimination in their favor at Google than elsewhere discourage women from applying for employment a Google? Maybe some women wouldn’t want a leg up, but how many?

        • Reality Bites says

          The corporation can do absolutely anything it wants to including murdering its employee’s, all it takes is money and the strings of a couple congress clowns. No one EVER goes to jail, its like the churches and the child molesting, it never stops because those doing the abusing are those that are in authority.

      • No. You are confusing the 1st Amendment with the concept of free speech. The 1st Amendment is about the government, whereas freedom of speech is universal. A corporation does not own you.

      • Phil says

        For the billionth time, free speech is an ideal that came out of the age of enlightenment. It was codified in the first amendment, and that does indeed keep the government from restricting you. But freedom of speech is bigger than that.

        If you think free speech and other civil rights are only something for someone else to worry about, then you’re a pretty shitty citizen and you need to have a chat with some civil rights activists.

      • MarkH says

        While I sympathize with the effort to correct a frequent confusion, it doesn’t quite reach the truth. In the US, Constitutionally protected free speech means limits on government censorship of expression. However, free speech is free speech in any place or context.

        Though the overwhelming consensus is that corporations “like Google” are “private organizations,” they are actually chartered by states. They aren’t _entirely_ private.

      • smith says

        No, free speech is free speech, and is always and everywhere important and vital in leading towards truth. Private organizations, like public ones, may suffer when they constrain it.

        The First Amendment protects speech from being controlled/prohibited by government entities.

      • Gandydancer says

        Nonsense. The First Amendment is protection of (among other things) freedom of speech from government entities, but freedom of speech is simply freedom of speech, irrespective of the source of coercion.

      • The memo clearly stated its purpose was to improve working conditions. It’s illegal under federal law to punish employees for discussing how to improve working conditions.

        The memo clearly made a case that the division in viewpoint is political. Progressives have consistently said that political speech isn’t protected (in the same way as religious speech is) and therefore Google was within its right to fire him. Unfortunately, Google has implemented its politics in the workplace, and made some of them mandatory. It’s illegal in California to punish an employee for adopting or failing to adopt a political course of action.

        The memo clearly made the case that illegal discrimination has been incentivized at Google and may be occurring (even if the policies in question are not illegal). It’s illegal under federal law to punish employees for challenging practices they believe may constitute illegal discrimination, even if it later turns out that illegal discrimination is not occurring.

        No, Google is not required to tolerate all speech. It is legally required to tolerate Damore’s speech, and legally prohibited for punishing him.

  11. Pingback: The Google ‘anti-diversity’ memo isn’t anything of the sort | Coffee House

  12. Pingback: In Celebration of Cult of Diversity, Google Sacrifices Employee – William M. Briggs

  13. Pingback: It’s not about Google. Our diversity efforts aren’t working | Computing Education Blog

  14. Atma says

    Was it a Denial of Service attack or them getting swamped with visitors

  15. Pingback: The Google memo, the reactions to it, and why my mind couldn’t let go | meshedsociety.com

  16. Andrew Richards says

    Speaking as a disabled, cis, straight, white, male who is the survivor of many years and forms of abuse, I can honestly say that my life experience confirms that indeed, what Geoffrey Miller has noted about SJW ideology (and therefore intersectional feminism) being utterly paradoxical. In fact it is truly remarkable, in a fundamentally depraved manner, just how selectively hypocritical intersectional feminists and SJWs truly are.

    By every empirical measure (at least in Australia anyway), the most fundamentally disadvantaged group in society are people with disabilities – whether you are talking about rates of child abuse, risk of domestic violence and sexual violence, employment opportunities, workplace discrimination, suicide rates, goebels-style government and mainstream media propaganda and most frightening, even government bodies like the Western Australian Mental Health Advisory Board, putting forward legislation which has been literally tantamount to a repeat of the Nazi Euthanasia Program.

    In many situations Intersectional Feminists and SJWs will recognise this – specifically when the target of said ableism is a person of colour, LBGTIQ and/or female. When this is the case, Intersectional Feminists and SJWs regard ableism as a grave societal scourge.

    However this concern ends the moment a target of ableism also happens to be cis, straight, white and male. The moment that happens we’re dismissed as a bunch of “patriarchal ****lords” who need to “check [their] privilege”, or told that it’s all our fault because “male privilege backfiring”.

    It should be mentioned that the agendas and beliefs of Intersectional Feminists have brought about a system where, among other things, targets of ableism and violence against the disabled are:
    – arbitrarily referred to batterer programs when seeking assistance as victims of domestic violence;
    – arbitrarily referred to sex offender programs when seeking trauma counselling programs as victims of rape;
    – arbitrarily interrogated to determine if they are a danger to others and then summarily dismissed when they are seeking help because they were suicidal at the time.

    In case you’re wondering, yes, as a cis, straight white male who is disabled and is also the survivor of female perpetrated child abuse, a female led institutionalised child sexual abuse cover-up, female perpetrated domestic violence and female perpetrated rape, all of the above have happened to me personally.

    It’s almost as if, when it comes to ableism, they’ve all been fitted with automated toggle switches with “cishet-white-male detectors” built into them and with 2 settings: “Nazi-hunter” and “Holocaust loving Nazi”. It would be truly laughable if it weren’t causing so much suffering and injustice in the world today.

  17. It’s sort of funny. The left castigates Global Warming critics for ignoring science. In fact, ignoring science enters into many aspects of our culture wars. Here, science presents it’s own “Inconvenient Truths” with respect to gender and what do we see? People who really hate seeing their own Oxen gored.

    • MikeW says

      The left has always been anti-science. They very selectively support science only when it helps to validate their views.

      • voiceofreason says

        The only scientist here that goes into the actual science admits that “again, though, most of these sex differences are moderate in size and in my view are unlikely to be all that relevant to the Google workplace (accounting for, perhaps, a few percentage points of the variability between men’s and women’s performances).” This isn’t scientists defending the science, this is people with qualifications defending the memo for ideological reasons.

        • Actually, small differences can be quite significant at elite levels of selection & performance.
          For instance, the difference between an Olympic medalist & an elite athlete who did not even make the team can be quite small.
          A leading-edge world-class technology company like Google is a similar rarified environment for the kinds of skills it is looking for. It’s easy to believe that relatively small differences would result in a hire or not.

        • Here is an article that Ph. D. David P. Schmitt wrote:
          https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sexual-personalities/201605/sex-and-gender-are-dials-not-switches

          In it, he mentions that “there is less than 10% overlap in men’s and women’s overall personalities”, which is based on this study:
          http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0029265

          So, from what I understand, while the overlap between men and women in a particular personality trait (f.i. agreeableness) might be moderate, if you consider their overall personalities, their differences are anything but.

          Having said that, I do not exactly understand Ph. D. Schmitt’s point here.

          • “In it, he mentions that “there is less than 10% overlap in men’s and women’s overall personalities”, which is based on this study:”

            I’m familiar with that study. It revealed a serious vulnerability in “Big Five” personality inventories. Namely, the method of sorting and structuring the data for analysis.

            One Big Five trait is Extraversion. There are a number of ways to express extraversion: warmth, affiliation, assertiveness, gregariousness, dominance, venturesomeness, etc.

            Most studies conglomerate the results of all of these subtraits and bundle them under the multivariate trait Extraversion. They then claim that men and women have similar scores on Extraversion, so men and women have very similar personalities.

            Under this methodology (and to simplify), a woman scoring 1 on dominance, 10 on gregariousness, 10 on affiliation, 0 on venturesomeness, 8 on warmth, 3 on assertiveness, etc…

            And a man scoring 7 on dominance, 5 on gregariousness, 3 on affiliation, 5 on venturesomeness, 3 on warmth, 9 on assertiveness…

            …would both have Extraversion scores of 32. Voila! They are equally extraverted, so no personality differences were found! Because all of those subtraits are identical, or something.

            I’m sure we can all see how… problematic this method is. The study cited showed that a univariate analysis shows extreme personality differences in aggregate.

            That said, there’s still overlap. And his idea of dials could be more accurately described as a 1 to 10 scale on traits. One is not “assertive” or “not assertive”. There are varying degrees of assertiveness–like a volume dial rather than an on-off switch.

            When you consider that personality can be broken down into so many subcategories of broader traits (like the subtraits that fall under Extraversion), it’s impossible to see gender or gender differences as black and white. There will be women who score more “like men” on some traits and more “like women” on others, and vice versa.

            I’m a woman with a masculine typical temperament in terms of sensitivity, anxiety, neuroticism, etc. Very low in all of them. On the other hand, my interest is primarily in people.

            Basically, all you can do is admit there’s an overlap that might not be that big, that might or might not lead people to make different choices.

        • In any case, no reasonable person, is advocating that only men should be hired for tech, or any other vocational branch for that matter. The person who is best suited for a position, should get it, regardless of gender, race, etc. It should be about the individual, not the group it belongs to.

          No reasonable person argues for biology being the only thing that’s relevant and that society doesn’t play a role.

          But taking into account biological differences, different personalities, interests and choices, sheds some light on why there isn’t equal representation of the sexes in certain areas and also why that’s something to be expected and quite normal.

        • It’s mostly the people who deny the role of biology in this, who follow this or a similar reasoning:
          – There aren’t differences between men and women, or they are insignificant.
          – Non equal representation of the sexes in any field must therefore be due to discrimination.
          – We should fight this discrimination with another kind of discrimination (f.e. affirmative action).

          This viewpoint is clearly flawed:
          – Current research and studies show that there are substantial differences between the sexes. Not only that, they get bigger the more egalitarian the society is.
          – One cannot infer discrimination just from non-equal outcome. That is an argument from ignorance. Besides, saying that everything is discriminatory doesn’t help the cause of fighting discrimination. It would instead be much more helpful to point to specific occurrences of discrimination. These we can fight.
          – Fighting (assumed) discrimination with (actual) discrimination is self-evidently absurd.

        • Gandydancer says

          How is your quote ” go[ing more] into the actual science” than, e.g., “… sex differences between women and men—when it comes to brain structure and function and associated differences in personality and occupational preferences—are understood to be true, because the evidence for them (thousands of studies) is strong”?

          Your claim is nonsense and your handle a joke.

        • “(accounting for, perhaps, a few percentage points of the variability between men’s and women’s performances).”

          Performance at the required tasks was never the question, though.

          The question was one of differences in interest.

          One of the most interesting bits of research I’ve come across found that both men and women who have both high math and high verbal ability are significantly less likely to choose STEM than those who have high math ability but low to moderate verbal ability.

          The same research indicated that women are more than twice as likely as men to have high math ability and high verbal ability, and that more than 70% of individuals with high math ability and low to moderate verbal ability are men.

          It stands to reason that if you’re interested in working with people, one of the primary qualifications would be high verbal ability. Since both men and women with high math ability who ALSO have high verbal ability are less likely to choose STEM, it could be that men overpopulate STEM positions that don’t require as many “people skills” not only because they’re more likely to be interested in them, but also because they’re less likely to have other options.

          There is a pervasive idea being promulgated that tech jobs are “highly desirable” or whatever. I promise you, they’re not that fun for most people. “Would you like to learn how to code?” I’m sure there are plenty of people who would say yes, but once they learn what’s involved would change their minds. As the level of abstraction and necessary skill and devotion increases, more people will drop out because they either can’t do it or just don’t see it as worth the effort. At the high end of ability, you’re left with a lot of guys (and some women) who stuck with it because their lack of verbal ability restricted their ability to find something different.

          Slower/delayed language acquisition is also correlated with high fetal testosterone.

          While differences in personality/temperament and performance may be small in the univariate sense, when compounded they may amplify differences in the choices people make.

          So let’s look at an “all other things being relatively equal” scenario:

          Interested in computers. Can write code. Good at math. Interested in people. Enjoys social interactions. Good at communicating. Sky’s the limit. Medicine, sales, law, marine biology, vet medicine, science journalism, psychology, whatever.

          Interested in computers. Can write code. Good at math. Interested in people. Enjoys social interactions. Bad at communicating. Tech.

          More than twice as many men as women would be expected to fit the second profile. Low verbal ability may be a limiting factor for the men who enter tech in terms of having the option to go anywhere else.

          And this dovetails with the work of feminists like Hanna Rosin, who wrote “The End of Men”. Women are more likely to excel in the skills required for an information and service economy. You know who doesn’t have the skills to make it in that kind of economy? People with low verbal ability.

          These are the “patriarchal assholes” we’re talking about. People who are more likely than others to lack (for whatever reason) a set of abilities that would give them more options than tech.

          You want to know why black men are overrepresented in basketball compared to hockey? It’s because all you need to build skills for basketball is a ball and a hoop. Hockey can cost your parents $10,000 or more a year depending on level and league. Black men from predominantly poor communities who are athletically inclined will OF COURSE gravitate toward basketball (or football, or baseball, because schools include those and some or all of the costs are born by the schools). That doesn’t mean black men are actively trying to keep white men out of basketball, or that black men are uninterested in hockey.

          It means that white kids’s parents are more able to afford hockey than black kids’ parents are, so blacks tend to cluster in basketball and whites tend to cluster in hockey. There may be other things going on, sure, but socioeconomic differences are HUGE, since training for any sport starts young, and hockey just costs more.

          People’s abilities to perform are not the only thing at work when choosing a course of action. Their limitations also play a huge role. If lack of verbal ability limits more men than women to opt out of tech, a decision that both men and women with high math and verbal ability tend to make, that could explain a significant part of the difference here.

        • Steve says

          He also says: “Sex differences in occupational interests, personal values, and certain cognitive abilities are a bit larger in size (see here)”

          I didn’t read the memo and I don’t know exactly what his point was but if it was that there’s no point trying to engineer 50/50 representation in certain careers due to the fairly large differences in interest, then he’s probably on to something. If his point was about internal performance of men and women at google, then I don’t see how he can have a point since google females are highly selected and wont be representative of the general population in either ability or interest.

          When you say this is people with qualifications defending the memo for ideological reasons, lets remember that they all said his account of the psychological and scientific literature was very accurate.

          Even if you disagree with his views on policy, should he have been fired and labelled a sexist? Is there room for reasonable people to have different opinions based on the science or should people be slandered and punished for expressing disagreement with official ideology? That’s the ideology I’m more worried about, the official one you can’t dissent from.

      • Everybody does that, to some degree. We all have our pre-conceived ideas and it takes a lot of mental discipline to overcome them. Nobody likes to admit that they were wrong, and therefore not many will – people only see what they want to see – and that is especially true when it comes to facts / the truth.

      • Steve Rogers says

        Actually, quite the opposite is true. The righties are the science deniers, not just due in part to their dismissal of climate change attributed to human actions. This is an issue that most scientists agree on.

    • Azathoth says

      ” The left castigates Global Warming critics ”

      Why? ” for ignoring science”?

      Or for pointing out that within the field of ‘global warming science’ things like the scientific method, transparency, and reproducibility are routinely ignored? That datasets are altered to fit models–that maybe, just maybe, their ‘science’ isn’t science at all–but instead the same type of thing we’re seeing in the memo?

  18. Pingback: Google Forsakes Its Reputation By Firing Employee Who Dared Sharing Mundane Facts – Return Of Kings

  19. Free Speech says

    Just as a reminder- you are protected from having your free speech violated by the government, not Google. Google can fire you for whatever you want. It’s up to the courts to determine whether or not it’s just cause.

    If you think that Google is an authoritarian culture, you might also want to think about capitalism’s role in the personal sphere over all.

    • Joonas says

      I wish there where good alternatives to googles services, since I believe in capitalism. Only way to make companies know of your opinion is by giving them less cash and attention.

      • Johnny says

        “I wish there where good alternatives to googles services”. There are. Google makes >90% of its profits just because of ads and by tracking your activity. So use a different search engine (the best one is DuckDuckGo, that doesn’t track you and often gives even better search results) and install an AdBlocker, and bye bye Google.
        But most people are too lazy even to do basic things like these…

    • Capitalism? Google was fine until the SJWs took over the HR dept with their cultural marxist identity politics.

      And again, you are confusing the 1st Amendment with the concept of free speech.

      What you are afraid of, what you want to censor because it will topple all your false narratives, is that men and women are different and not every disparity is due to Teh Patriarchy.

      • Brad says

        “Google was fine until the SJWs took over the HR dept with their cultural marxist identity politics.”

        No such thing as ‘Cultural Marxism’.

    • Gandydancer says

      “Google can fire you for whatever you want. It’s up to the courts to determine whether or not it’s just cause.”

      This is a non sequitur. If just cause is required then in fact you can’t be fired at will. You need further education to understand the actual issue.

  20. Capitalism Rocks! says

    Free Speech…actually California is an At Will State, so yes true they can fire anyone for any reason whatsoever. However, a company cannot fire someone who whistle-blows/files a complaint prior to being fired about illegal discriminatory practices within the company before addressing the complaint.

    “Damore had previously told other news outlets he planned to file a complaint, with The New York Times reporting that he’s claiming Google’s upper management was “misrepresenting and shaming” him. “I have a legal right to express my concerns about the terms and conditions of my working environment and to bring up potentially illegal behavior, which is what my document does,” Damore told The New York Times. Legal experts say the case has legs, with one lawyer telling Wired that “Damore’s lawyer might argue that his memo was protected under California law, because it related to allegedly unequal treatment of employees.”

    https://www.theverge.com/2017/8/9/16117616/google-engineer-diversity-memo-files-complaint-damore

    On your last sentence:
    I fail to see how your opinions on Capitalism have any bearing on the topic at hand. Venezuela seems awfully authoritarian at the moment…is that due to Capitalism? Wait no…that was the fault of Socialism…

    • Gandydancer says

      “…actually California is an At Will State, so yes true they can fire anyone for any reason whatsoever.” And then you go on to show the opposite is true. Cognitive dissonance much?

      “Is California an “at-will” state any longer? The answer is probably not.” http://www.hullmcguire.com/pdf/CA%20At-Will%20Employment.pdf

      Thanks for the rest, though.

    • Brad says

      “Venezuela seems awfully authoritarian at the moment…”

      Holding citizen assemblies, elections and giving people input into the constitution is “authoritarian”?

      • Oh, come on. If shooting demonstrators, arresting opposition leaders on absurd trumped-up charges and rigging referendums isn’t authoritarian enough for you, what in heaven’s name would be? And self-proclaimed “citizen assemblies”, under one name or another, are a feature of every authoritarian regime on record since the Skinner Box was invented. You’re gonna have to do a bit better than that.

  21. Pingback: All you need to read about the Google Manifesto - Bombs and Dollars

  22. What no one has mentioned, and what I believe is the most obvious barrier between women and the STEM and tech arenas is the stigma created (predominantly) by men who have controlled the education process starting at the elementary school level. For this process to change, it would be imperative that math and science education would be administered (and philosophically accepted) to girls starting in elementary school at the same level as boys. This fundamental philosophy would then, ideally, be fostered and strengthened throughout the ensuing years by both educators and parents. A lot of girls, and women, have sadly been reinforced to believe that science and math is a “guy thing.”

    • BroganMc says

      What? I don’t know when or where you were educated but girls and boys have been attending the same math and science classes in elementary, middle and high school for the last several decades. Research shows girls and boys achieving at least similar scores in elementary & middle schools with some girls performing better than their boy peers. The differentiation tends to occur later in high school and college when more boys opt for STEM majors while girls opt for other majors. Here’s an interesting article about these similarities and discussion of why girls are self-selecting for non-STEM majors. It’s interesting to note the experiment UC Berkeley tried recently changing the way its Intro to Comp Sci class was taught. This new program involved more collaboration and problem-based methods which drew a majority of female students. https://venturebeat.com/2015/01/27/study-girls-outperform-boys-in-math-and-science-all-over-the-world/ (Damore suggested using these sorts of things to help Google make the work more appealing to a wider range of employees.)

    • Freddy says

      At least 40% of mathematics majors have been women since at least the 1970s, so I’m not sure where the idea came from that math is ‘guy stuff.’

    • Invictus says

      “by men who have controlled the education process starting at the elementary school level”???? Last I looked, it’s women who rule the schools, particularly at the elementary level.

      • Steve Rogers says

        “Last I looked, it’s women who rule the schools, particularly at the elementary level.”
        Indeed, this may be true but you need to look at who rules the math and science curriculum within those schools…..men.

    • Gandydancer says

      You appear to just start out with the religious belief that men and women ought to end up the same and work backward to the conclusion that there must be something bad that happened to produce the unequal results, and invent a nonexistent “stigma” for that role.

      No. You badly need to read the memo.

  23. Haig says

    Geoffrey Miller writes, “So, if the sexes and races don’t differ at all, and if psychological interchangeability is true, then there’s no practical business case for diversity.”

    While I agree with his argument, I think he’s making an error in giving Google’s current corporate culture, at least the aspect dedicated to diversity policies, the benefit of the doubt in assuming they place practical business issues like competitiveness ahead of social justice issues. This seems to happen like clockwork in affluent and complacent social systems, from corporations to nations, when the comfort level that comes from reduced survival pressure shifts priorities from efficiency and effectiveness to equality and equity, with the inevitable results of producing none of those things.

  24. Thumb Twiddler says

    “…known facts about the genetic evolution of sex differences…”

    You mean pen and paper surveys of undergrads, right? Don’t put on airs. I mean, you’re not fat, but you don’t have much self control.

    • LOL! Thousands of peer reviewed studies on differences between sexes but you know better. Right…. hahahahahahaha

      • Thumb Twiddler says

        Yep, thousands of peer reviewed studies done with pen and paper tests! What fine and accurate instruments for answering scientific questions! Thanks for playing “LOL”

    • Gandydancer says

      Did you read? “Within the field of neuroscience, sex differences between women and men—when it comes to brain structure and function and associated differences in personality and occupational preferences—are understood to be true, because the evidence for them (thousands of studies) is strong.”

  25. Janice Harlow says

    Google makes money perpetuating gender stereotypes through targeted advertising. For them to fire someone for doing what they themselves are doing is staggering hypocrisy.

  26. Steven says

    This incident has been confused for a free speech issue, which it isn’t. Companies usually are authoritarian entities.

    I don’t refute the assertions made in the memo, but the scientific merit of the (former) employee’s arguments are irrelevant to his termination. Employment is a contract one willingly enters. Company policy doesn’t need to be agreed with. It only needs to be adhered to.

    General freedoms don’t extend to terms of employment. There are many things that we are allowed to do as citizens that we may not be permitted to do as employees. An employer is not obligated to tolerate open criticism of an established policy in the work place the way they must tolerate open criticism in a public forum. The same goes for profanity, attire, and may other elements of free speech.

    Beyond that, policy may be established for reasons that employers aren’t obliged to make employees aware of. Evidence of rationality isn’t requisite of policy to expect an employee’s adherence to it.

    • Reality Bites says

      “Evidence of rationality” you nailed it. The corporate way is the opposite of rationality, typically pretty much all that is “corporate” is idiotic and ill conceived by committee. Those that haven’t and can’t do the job are dictating the “procedure” for how to do it.

      Corporations are the living embodiment of the Dunning–Kruger effect, group think = delusion.

    • Gandydancer says

      That Damore’s post was in violation of company policy is very much not in evidence. In fact it seems to have accorded with stated company policy, so that the statements of company policy were fraudulent. Your grasp of the issues is quite primitive.

  27. Jerryskids says

    I still think a lot of the reaction misses a core point – the memo was a straightforward, rational, reasoned, logical view of a problem and suggestions for solving the problem – a classic example of “mansplaining”, in other words. Men (in general) tend to think like that. A big thing in feminist circles these days is “different ways of knowing”, an insistence that logic and reason are somehow social constructs perpetrated by the patriarchy to keep women down and they’re not having any of it. Somehow, “women’s intuition” or something is somehow just as valid a path to discovering truth as sexist science and the scientific method. Or maybe there is no such thing as objective truth and if all truths are subjective anything you please can be true, and if everything is true then nothing is true. I’ll be honest, my eyes glaze over trying to follow some of this stuff, but then again I’m a man and I favor (or “privilege”, as the hip kids put it these days) logic and reasoning over feelings and emotions.
    It’s kind of a conundrum – a guy trying to use logic and reasoning, facts and figures and empirical evidence, to argue that logic and reasoning are the best way to approach an issue with a bunch of people who feel very strongly that strong feelings matter more.

  28. Jacob says

    Much of the research on gender differences is cited in ways that are highly inappropriate for a discussion on biological (which I interpret to mean innate) differences between the sexes. And this is not so much because the researchers are lazy or bad, but because it is really quite difficult to show convincingly that differences between men and women are because of the same things that make men and women different rather than a byproduct of society treating men and women differently.

    But the question is really important, so we have to be very careful. Everyone agrees that, for instance, women are underrepresented at Google relative to their overall numbers in the country/world. Most would agree that *if* men and women are born equally capable of growing up to be Googlers, the fact of their underrepresentation is unjust.

    So if we have a great deal of research findings indicating men and women differ on certain personality traits and other things possibly relevant to success in tech, does that mean those differences are *innate*? No, it doesn’t. It is consistent with that explanation, to be sure. But it’s also consistent with the feminist explanation that powerful socializing forces push boys and girls in different directions essentially from birth.

    Of course, very few reasonable people would ever argue that biological sex has nothing to do with anything. You can’t pretend men aren’t usually taller and stronger than women, for instance. But this does not support the inference that most other differences should be explained as innate. In fact, these differences that are basically irrelevant to one’s potential competence as an engineer may even be the cause of differential socialization!

    But some of this is purely a red herring. If “engineering competence and interest” is a trait about which men and women differ on the order of most of the constructs cited in the memo, even if there “should” be more men than women working at Google, this is no proof that the current figure is one that reflects the optimal mix of men and women. At any rate, while I suspect the author is unconcerned with a dearth of women in the workplace, he does not object to the goal of increasing their representation, only that maybe it shouldn’t be 50/50.

    What’s missed with all this, and especially with this post, is that the proposed solutions (“what we do in light of biological differences”) are just as contentious as the grounds for them (“there are biological differences”). This is a sociological question, not a psychological or neuroscientific one. If we all basically accept the premise that women are underrepresented relative to their innate abilities/interests, even if the abilities/interests call for less than 50/50 representation, then we don’t have to argue for the moment about the scope or existence of those differences. The question is what about our society makes it this way and what’s Google supposed to do about it?

    And just to be fair to the Google critics, it is usually going to be wrong for the entity at the end of the chain to expect to totally fix the inequity. If we grant all the assumptions/assertions of the most progressive point of view, in spite of being innately prepared for success in tech, from birth women are pushed out of these areas. Some woman who was born with the intellect and ability for interest in tech to lead Google internalized representations of tech people as men, received biased feedback in school that led her to underestimate her technical abilities, etc. In short, the system pushed her to a different career. Well, Google can’t summon the training that never occurred, the passion that never developed, and so on. The locus of the problem isn’t just at the point of hiring, but at every step along the way. And that means you can’t fix the problem only at the point of hiring and in the workplace. You need to fix the other problems, too, so that the labor market actually has enough of the people who you seek to treat so fairly.

    • Google has spent approx $250 million promoting your theory of diversity, with no results.

      And when are we going to get your screed on how Teh Patriarchy is keeping women out of sanitation and construction jobs?

      Even better, please explain why only Google females took a “safe space” day off from work but none of the men did, even though they likewise found the memo objectionable.

    • Markus says

      Hi Jacob,

      good reasoning, and especially nice to see someone with a balanced opinion. I would like to disagree on one point, though. I think it does not matter much whether apparent statistical differences between women and men are innate/biological or a byproduct of society.
      I would reason that pursuit of happiness is the most important thing for every individual, regardless of group affiliation. Apparently, men and women still make different career choices in more or less egalitarian countries, that is, in countries where is little pressure to follow traditional career paths (research cited somewhere else on this site, here: Schmitt et al. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.94.1.168). Thus, societal pressure is apparently not a big factor here. It still could be subtle differences in upbringing starting with birth, but strictly attempting a 50:50 representation in all workplaces would still mean restricting free choice (that is: considering applications from one sex with preference).
      I think diversity management should ensure that individual applications are not discriminated against due to group affiliation. However, attempting equal representation not of applications but of society as a whole likely decreses societal happiness.
      Markus

    • Gandydancer says

      ” If we grant all the assumptions/assertions of the most progressive point of view…”

      We don’t. That would be deranged.

      “Most would agree that *if* men and women are born equally capable of growing up to be Googlers, the fact of their underrepresentation is unjust.”

      False, without assigning a very non-intuitive meaning to “equally capable”.

  29. Pingback: A Memo to Google Employees on the Recent Outrage - Crisis Magazine

  30. Pingback: A Memo to Google Employees on the Recent Outrage - Catholic Daily

  31. I sympathize with Denmore, and as an employee of Microsoft, this makes me fearful that I may get fired for honest debate. But beyond that I will offer some opinions I have not seen elsewhere. I think Google made a mistake. I don’t think they would do the same thing again. It is terrible PR for them when a lot of the liberal ideologues are under fire. I can also say that I am very sympathetic to the minority of women who are in the field. Offices near mine are occupied with only about 30% people of American birth (very high diversity) but less than 10% women. I am a man near retirement, but I am a mentor to two women engineers. I wish there were more in the field, they bring so much to teams. But I also have two daughters, and it is a tough sell to get them into STEM degrees. Tech is a challenging place for women. The pay is high, and the competence of those hired by the best companies is really impressive. But there is ego, turf, debates and competition at the heart of all the most successful tech cultures. I find it bruising, and mentoring others to be successful is challenging. Women drop out at much higher levels than men. It is a tough balancing act. All of us with hiring authority will jump at a qualified women candidate, and will make any reasonable accommodations. But we will not kill the culture of competition. The products are too complex to manage by fiat, and too important to allow complacence.

    • Louise says

      I’ve studies physics and am now in philosophy, two very male dominated areas. I can assure you that I do not lack ambition nor competitiveness. But in order to be heard there have to be people who do not ignore whatever I put in and those are hard to find. They’ll do anything to listen to the men, or themselves, over having to listen to me. I have become frustrated and ended up getting a mental health issue and am now considering getting out. This is a usual path for women in male dominated fields.

      • Gandydancer says

        Unconvincing unless you can explain why physics (and, you say, philosophy) are different than other formerly male dominated fields that now aren’t.

    • Louise says

      You have to understand that to first of all be willing to get into those fields as a woman it takes courage, ambition and willingness to compete. Women are discouraged to consider anything that even looks like hard science already as children. Having made it through all that and still keep on going is not a small feat.

  32. Pingback: The Google Memo: Race and Gender Gaps and their Solutions – CoverDaily | Information at your finger tips

  33. Pingback: Silicon Valley has real problems • Bruce On Politics

  34. Pingback: A Memo to Google Employees on the Recent Outrage

  35. Pingback: Correct Google: Bicker-lezers reageren - De Bicker

  36. mhjhnsn says

    Given what Google did in firing Damore, there is absolutely no basis to give them the benefit of the doubt that they have UNINTENTIONALLY created an environment that is hostile to differing views. They damn well know exactly what they are doing.

  37. Kevin says

    I’m not sure how much this is worth, but I’ve been in the computer field for over 35 years and would like to share my experience. I worked for a very large corporation and observed who (by sex) worked in what positions. Programming can be split into 3 categories, “operating system programming”, “application programming”, and “support software programming”. On the scale, women dominated in the operating system arena. This area requires a lot more “esoteric” thinking. Men dominated in the application arena. This area requires “down to earth, solid thinking”. Support software was equally represented. This area is a mix of the 2 disciplines. As one of the authors in the article mentioned, our brains develop certain “interests, or abilities” (my words). Going back before my time, the first 6 programmers on the Univac computer were all women. Because programming was so new at that time, a very special skill set (and way of thinking) was required. Could the fact that it was all women be reflective of the differences in our brains? The majority of the engineers (hardware) were men. I also se a HUGE difference by race, which cannot be explained by simple demographics.

    • hippiefreak says

      From online research, FWIW, I found that the term ‘computer’ originated as early as 1613 and referred to people, both men and women, as well as objects that performed this function, such as the 1902 book ‘Screw Propeller Computer’. An 1894 reference from the US. Naval Observatory listed several men as computers. In astronomy, it was a temporary position for men until they advanced, and women generally were not allowed the job of computing until Pickering at Harvard University came along and hired a number of women. With men drafted to fight in WWII, many of the computers were women. The world’s first professional computer programmers were women, selected from this group of computers.

  38. Greatminds says

    He said that diversity of ideas and ideologies is lacking at Google. That is true diversity. If the culture at Google doesn’t encourage more women to work their as engineers and in STEM jobs then Google must look at their culture as to why men dominate the workplace there, not anything else.

    • Gandydancer says

      There is not the slightest evidence that Google’s “culture” is the reason men dominate tech jobs there.

  39. Pingback: Google CEO is PC: Genetic Differences Must Not Exist | Human Stupidity: Irrationality, Self Deception

  40. jeff says

    Thank you, this was very enlightening. Unfortunately, Google, Facebook, Intel and others are using diversity to replace American citizens with cheap labor mainly from India. If they were interested in diversity their demographics would more closely match the demographics of the US, but they don’t. The Asian population (which is mainly South Asian) at all of these companies is disproportionately high (30% or more compared to the 2010 US census 4.8%). Jesse Jackson addressed this way back in 2012, if they were serious about diversity we would have seen it in the corporate demographics by now.

  41. Louise says

    No!, we are not going to have this discussion about whether men, women and poc aren’t really biologically so different that that accounts for why there are less women and minorities in STEM!
    We women and minorities have had ENOUGH OF YOUR SEXIST AND RACIST NONSENSE!! It is so pervasive that yes, it does creep into science too, so we’ve seen loads of scientists claim that women are just ‘wired differently’ (yeah, think of ‘hysteria’), so ffs start by doing some decent science, start by dealing with sexist hiring practices and boys’ clubs in workplaces including labs and academia at large so we can finally do some decent science, and only then we can have this discussion, IF there were still a need!!

  42. Emelio Lizardo says

    But why is it desirable to have women in the workforce to begin with? Women do not permit men to stay at home and take care of the house. Therefor the only means to qualify to be a husband and father is to have as high a status career as possible. As men are replaced in those positions, the number of acceptable male mates rapidly diminishes. This is why at least 40% of families are impoverished single moms. It’s why when women over 40 begin to look for husbands there are no (acceptable) men to be found.

    Physical diversity does nothing for a company. In fact all it really is, is political speak for removing males and in particular white males. Organizations, professions, and schools that are majority female are never criticized for lack of diversity. The prison system is 90% male but no criticism of that is heard despite many studies showing that it is directly a result of systemic discrimination against males.

    • Black Spider-Man says

      Because many women outcompete men in the workplace and any workplace that did hire them would thus outcompete the one that didn’t. The market fixes this.

      Plenty of women have men at home to take care of the house. (I guess you don’t live in a city?)

      Impoverished single moms are often victims of racist bias in the legal system (the fathers are in prison).

      And no woman looks for a first husband over 40. Please.

  43. Pingback: Why pink LEGO might be bad for girls | | Clicky

  44. Pingback: „Google ist wie ein religiöser Kult.“ | DH-BlackBox-Blog

  45. Black Spider-Man says

    Here is the correction to Geoffrey Miller’s strawman description of how people concerned with diversity think:

    — The human sexes and races have exactly the same minds, with precisely identical distributions of traits, aptitudes, interests, and motivations; therefore, any inequalities of outcome in hiring and promotion must be due to systemic sexism and racism; [correct]

    — The human sexes and races have such radically different EXPERIENCES AND OPPORTUNITIES, backgrounds, perspectives, and insights that companies must increase their demographic diversity OF APPLICANTS AND INTERVIEWEES in order to be competitive; any lack of demographic diversity must be due to short-sighted management that favors groupthink. [corrected]

  46. “The argument in the document is, overall, despicable trash.”

    https://www.quora.com/What-do-scientists-think-about-the-biological-claims-made-in-the-anti-diversity-document-written-by-a-Google-employee-in-August-2017

    TL;DR: Yes, men and women are biologically different — which doesn’t mean what the author thinks it does. The article perniciously misrepresents the nature and significance of known sex differences to advance what appears to be a covert alt-right agenda. More specifically, it:

    argues for biologically determined sex differences in personality based on extremely weak evidence
    completely fails to understand the current state of research on sex differences, which is based in neuroscience, epigenetics and developmental biology
    argues that cognitive sex differences influence performance in software engineering, but presents no supporting evidence. Available evidence does not support the claim.
    fails to acknowledge ways in which sex differences violate the narrative of female inferiority; this shows intellectual dishonesty
    assumes effective meritocracy in its argument, ignoring both a mountain of conflicting scientific literature and its own caveats (which I can only assume were introduced to placate readers, since their incompatibility with the core thesis is never resolved)
    makes repugnant attacks on compassion and empathy
    distorts and misuses moral foundations theory for rhetorical purposes
    contains hints of racism
    paradoxically insists that authoritarianism be treated as a valid moral dimension, whilst firmly rejecting any diversity-motivated strategy that might remotely approach it.
    ultimately advocates rejecting all morality insofar as it might compromise the interests of a group.

  47. Meagain says

    I’m surprised with David Schmitt’s response. Basically, he says that existing psychological sex differences are not that much relevant with Google workplace. So, does he mean to say that people-things orientation is not relevant for the fact that men are hugely overrepresented in software engineering? Higher IQ variance in men (given that software engineering is cognitively demanding job) is irrelevant as well? Higher assertivness & aggressiveness and status -seeking in men has nothing to do with asking for a raise & leadership position aspiration, both of which might explain some of the gender wage gap? And so on.
    Note that “small-to-moderate” effect sizes in neuroticism and other traits are derived from “lab” settings and by using surveys that greatly underrestimate their effect in the real world. So, sure, by looking from personality questionnaires you might think that sex differences in neuroticism is “small to moderate” but if you look sex differences in reporting levels of anxiety on Googlegeist, the differences won’t be that small anymore. It would be quite big. Anyway, very dissapointed with his response and looks like a cop out.

    Miller response is very good, but it seems to me that even he is trying to dodge the crux of the matter with engaging in generalities and vagueness . For example, in the end he writes:

    “Equality or diversity: choose one. In my opinion, given that sex differences are so well-established, and the sexes have such intricately complementary quirks, it may often be sensible, in purely practical business terms, to aim for more equal sex ratios in many corporate teams, projects, and divisions.”

    This is irrelevant. The question is not whether “it may often (how often btw?) be sensible … to aim for more (how much more?) equal sex ratio in many (how many? which ones?) corporate teams”. We’re not talking about equal sex representation in general, we’re talking about Google and tech companies (software engineering). So the question is not “is it sensible to aim for more equal sex ratios in many corporate teams?” but “is it sensible to to aim for more equal sex ratios in software engineering companies like Google?”. I suppose he answers only the first question because the answer to the first question is more PC-friendly. But by doing this he stops being relevant for the issue at hand.

  48. Pingback: The Google Gulag – AiluroFlame Blog

  49. oudeicrat says

    intolerant ruthless privileged neurotypical bigots bully and shame an asperger boy for calling for ideological diversity and citing scientific literature

  50. Pingback: What the ‘Google memo’ row says about free speech and STEM | April Six Proof

  51. Pingback: Bobo and Krugman | Marion in Savannah

  52. Pingback: Google y la diversidad. La controvertida ciencia tras el “manifiesto” de James Damore - MAESTROVIEJO

  53. Employers will always prefer to hire the socially acceptable minimum number of women, or other protected “minority”, because you can fire white men if they are bad employees or if they make you look bad.

  54. Pingback: Macht Freiheit böse? Die seltsamen Reaktionen auf das Google-Manifest | man tau

  55. Pingback: Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 113 – Glen Davis

  56. Rick says

    There have been (and likely will continue to be) many socio-structural barriers to women working in technological jobs. These include culturally-embedded gender stereotypes, biased socialization practices, in some cultures explicit employment discrimination, and a certain degree of masculinization of technological workplaces.

  57. Rick says

    “3. Google has, perhaps unintentionally, created an authoritarian atmosphere that has stifled discussion of these issues by stigmatizing anyone who disagrees as a bigot and instituted authoritarian policies of reverse discrimination;”

    “The arrogance of most of the comments reflects exactly the type of smug self-appointed superiority that has led to widespread resentment of the left among reasonable people.”

    So the author thinks that those who disagree with the essay are seld-appointedly superior, and those who agree with it are “reasonable. It seems his own point #3 applies to him.
    It sounds like his main objection isn’t that “This essay may not get everything 100% right”, but rather he doesn’t like the tone of the comments. The tone of the comments may not be correct, but they stand in sharp contrast to the sexist maunderings of the essay’s attempts to dismiss the history of “… many socio-structural barriers to women …” including “culturally-embedded gender stereotypes, biased socialization practices, in some cultures explicit employment discrimination, and a certain degree of masculinization of … workplaces.”

    or,

    tl;dr The essay is wrong, but for the wrong reasons.

  58. Pingback: The Psychology of the New McCarthyism – CoverDaily | Information at your finger tips

  59. Pingback: Googles avsatte «kjetter» – tar selskapet sikte på å bli meningspoliti? | steigan.no

  60. Pingback: CBC is Schizophrenic Over Google Memo | Jim's Jumbler

  61. Pingback: Shut Up, They Explained - Telzilla

  62. Pingback: Links 11/8/2017: Atom 1.19, LLVM 5.0 RC2 | Techrights

  63. Pingback: Weekend reading: You’re in the 1% for financial savvy – Frozen Pension

  64. Pingback: Shut Up, They Explained | DPC - Deranged Political Correctness

  65. Pingback: James Damore Was Right: The Inconvenient Truth Behind The Google Memo - Telzilla

  66. Pingback: The Google Monoculture - Telzilla

  67. Pingback: 2017: Social Media Purge Ensues? – A Swift Sunrise

  68. Pingback: The Google Monoculture | The Weekly Standard — Political News

  69. Pingback: Dimanche des liens, de l’auto-sexe, du sexe engagé, du script sexué, et puis l’Iliade, et l’Odyssée | People No Limit

  70. Pingback: Dimanche des liens, de l’auto-sexe, du sexe engagé, du script sexué, et puis l’Iliade, et l’Odyssée | France Actu

  71. Pingback: Dimanche des liens, de l’auto-sexe, du sexe engagé, du script sexué, et puis l’Iliade, et l’Odyssée – Buzz du Buzz

  72. Pingback: Wenn ein GamerGate mit seinen Flügeln schlägt | weltraumaffen.com

  73. Pingback: The full memo: James Damore – Googles Ideological Echo Chamber | How blue

  74. Pingback: Reading Material on Gender Essentialism – malb::blog

  75. Pingback: View from Brussels: Google sidesteps gender preference debate | kasperskylab2016.com

  76. Pingback: What neuroscience can tell us about the Google diversity memo | Wikipedia Editors

  77. Pingback: Google’s Thought Control problem | KELLHUB

  78. Pingback: Peggy Sastre contre Google – L'Épervier

  79. Pingback: Google’s Thought Control problem – Bringing you Latest News of all Nigerian Newspaper

  80. Pingback: Prof: Google memo was correct about gender differences - The Rightly Report

  81. Pingback: Prof: Google memo was correct about gender differences - The Right Side of News

  82. Pingback: What neuroscience can tell us about the Google diversity memo – नेपाली टाईम्स

  83. Pingback: Paradox of the ‘Equality and diversity’ dogma – Insights

  84. Pingback: Google Makes Another Huge Blunder: Firing Damore | al fin next level

  85. Pingback: Wikipedia’s Left-Wing Editors Attempt to Minimize Evidence Supporting Google Memo – New Right News

  86. Pingback: What neuroscience can tell us about the Google diversity memo

  87. If Haidt and Mill aren’t left enough for you, may I suggest “Free Speech and Political Struggle” by Hal Draper? He was a libertarian Marxist.

  88. Pingback: In Defense of the Google Manifesto – AREO

  89. Pingback: Google vs ¿machismo científico? – MOV Magazine

  90. Pingback: View from Brussels: Google sidesteps gender preference debate - Magazineclick

  91. Pingback: How the Google memo may affect Trudeau's feminist affirmative action - Loonie Politics

  92. Pingback: Google vs. Science, Feminists vs. Babies, Commies vs. History, Ad Infinitum : The Other McCain

  93. Alex says

    Here is my question: if the people doing the hiring are familiar with these studies, will that cause them to discriminate against women based on the “averages” that these studies present and/or give them reason to “justify” gender gaps?

    For example, if a company has two applicants, a man and a slightly more qualified woman, would the hiring managers fear hiring someone that is likely more ”neurotic,” likely more willing to spend money (especially in a role where purchasing would be required), and likely more concerned with work-life balance (read: less willing to work long hours)? I know plenty that would feel comfortable going with the less qualified man to mitigate those “risks.”

    Until job interviews are performed blind, where the hiring company has no idea of applicants race, sex, age, or any other of the many ways we tend to stereotype, then memos like this need to stay far away from the workplace. The studies cited simply take large samples and find trends, which is exactly what we already do as humans with our propensity to stereotype. They have absolutely no business being used to explain away any SPECIFIC situation such as the gender gap at Google.

    Science aims to be based on fact, not bias. Until someone proves that Google’s hiring managers have no bias, please do not use science to explain away the gender gap there.

  94. leanne says

    This whole fuss is basically trying to disguise the fact coding is not actually that hard. Anyone who can type words into a computer can learn how to code. However this doesn’t suit the new ‘masters of the universe’ so they feel better if they claim coding is too difficult for women’s brains to manage. I’m not saying coding doesn’t take effort or training, but so does being a lawyer and nobody’s running around claiming women can’t do that (any more). With the right training and effort anyone could be a lawyer, same with coding.
    I do believe there are differences between the way the average man and the average woman approach things, but it in no way affects either sex’s ability to code in the same way it doesn’t affect their ability to speak English.

    • I think the issue is exactly what any reasonable person would want to say about “equality of outcome politics”. It a totalitarian thought regime that places individual rights with post modernist deconstruction Marxism. Just we we saw in the Russian Gulag culture. Minimizing the significance of this incident is basically part of a political strategy that replaces Western culture with victimology, fallacy, childishness, whining, and mediocrity under the guise of “helping the oppressed”. The article reveals the dangerous, misguided, conspiracy based, nonsensical fallacies of “equality of outcome” politics that is slowly sucking the life and energy out of our citizens and our country.

    • FooBar says

      “Anyone who can type words into a computer can learn how to code.”

      And anyone who can type, or even write longhand, could equally well write a novel. Just as anyone who can paint a house could create the next Mona Lisa. And if you’ve ever taken a bath, you’re halfway to being an Olympic swimmer.

      “With the right training and effort anyone could be a lawyer, same with coding.”

      Only in a blank-slate fantasy world. In reality, more than half the world’s population couldn’t even function as competent paralegals–an entry-level position being rapidly taken over by algorithms written and implemented by “masters of the universe,” BTW.

      Students who flunk out of engineering go into medicine and law. Failed doctors and lawyers do not become engineers. It has to do with the difference between creative, logical problem-solving, versus memorization and following flowcharts created by others.

      In reducing software engineering to “typing words into a computer,” you show contemptible ignorance of the intelligence required to create elite, world-class software. At the senior engineering level, at a place like Google, if you don’t possess a Mensa-caliber I.Q. you needn’t even apply.

      “The top software developers are more productive than average software developers not by a factor of 10X or 100X or even 1000X but by 10,000X”–Nathan Myhrvold, former Microsoft CTO.

      Can you guess why that is? Hint: It’s not that they’re able to type 10,000X faster, nor that they’ve spent 10,000X more hours practicing….

  95. Pingback: What Do They Believe? | Spawny's Space

  96. Pingback: 2695: The High Road - Page 2

  97. Pingback: The Drill Down 488: Google "Echo Chamber" Memo | The Drill Down

  98. Pingback: Google In A Corner – Shaquille Moore

  99. Pingback: That Google Memo | The Illustrated Empathy Gap

  100. Perun says

    Prof. Miller’s article is largely based on a false dichotomy. Accumulating people with different mental abilities is not the main business reason for valuing diversity: companies deal with society, and to appeal to different social groups (women, different races, cultures), it helps to have them on board in your company, and to give them a degree of equality in outcome to keep them motivated and engaged (given that we live in a world where people are judged by, and identify themselves by external characteristics).

Comments are closed.