Equality has been a fighting issue since the day that sliced bread was invented, probably longer. It’s been fought for in plenty of places, such as: the voting booth, buses, wedding chapels. The workplace is no exception. Whether to secure equal pay between men and women, or to diversify a company, equality has always been an issue rife with dissatisfaction.
In the last week, dissatisfaction over inequality made itself known in one of the more prominent circles of society – the renowned circles of Silicon Valley. This place is normally an area known for pushing equality, with companies offering courses dedicated to teaching girls how to code and trying to close gender gaps in both hiring percentages and wages.
However, it seems that not everyone is content with the company’s goals.
James Damore, a software engineer at Google, published a ten-page manifesto, titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.” He sent this manifesto out as an internal memo to other Google staffers. Eventually, it was leaked to the public, and its contents caused uproar among the general populace.
Damore’s manifesto poorly attempts to explain the gender gap in hirings in companies like Google. However, his explanation for the gap is far from typical. He states that the gap between men and women hires is because women’s biological makeup “prevents” them from succeeding in the same capacity as their male counterparts.
“These positions [in fields having to do with science or technology] often require long, stressful hours that may not be worth it if [one] want[s] a balanced and fulfilling life,” the manifesto states.
Damore goes on to add that, biologically, while women are more cooperative, they are also more likely to have anxiety disorders. In fact, he believes that the reason there is less competition among workers is because Google hires women all the time.
Despite his claims, Damore claims that he doesn’t endorse stereotyping, and that he isn’t denying that sexism exists. It’s a hypocritical remark. He assumes that so many women have anxiety disorders that it is almost an automatic part of a woman’s identity. Yet, he claims not to make such assumptions.
His side remarks also contradicts his overall statement. In saying that positions in Silicon Valley’s companies are only for those who aren’t looking to have “a balanced and fulfilling life” – in his opinion, men – Damore is also implying that men shouldn’t have such lives. This seems strange for someone who’s advocating for the male advantage.
Of course, such remarks did not go unnoticed. Damore was almost immediately fired from Google for his manifesto, and the company was quick to distance itself from his actions.
“We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company,” remarked Danielle Brown “and we’ll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul.” Brown is the vice president of diversity, integrity and governance at Google, and she had recently been hired to improve diversity among employees.
Even those who weren’t as closely affiliated with the company were ready to distance themselves from Damore. “Despite speaking very authoritatively, the author does not appear to understand gender,” said Yonatan Zunger, a senior engineer who had recently departed from the company. “Perhaps more interestingly, the author does not appear to understand engineering.”
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