Google: Here's why software engineer's anti-diversity memo is just wrong

Arguing the gender gap in tech is due to biological differences, a Google engineer's memo has sparked outrage.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Google says the employee's anti-diversity memo makes incorrect assumptions about gender.

Image: Google

Google's efforts to change its white-male dominated culture are in the spotlight after a software engineer posted a controversial internal memo arguing that gender gaps in tech don't imply sexism, but rather are a result of innate differences between men and women.

"I'm simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don't see equal representation of women in tech and leadership," the memo reads.

The author argues that Google is a left-leaning "ideological echo chamber" whose programs, such as mentoring for people with a certain gender or race, amount to "discrimination to reach equal representation".

Gizmodo published the full memo over the weekend as employees reacted to the document on social media.

The author, whose identity hasn't been publicly revealed, calls for Google to support "ideological diversity" and alleges that right-leaning employees are discriminated against and silenced.

While some employees call for the author to be sacked, other employees are supportive of the attempt to break Google's supposed "politically correct monoculture", Motherboard reported.

According to Recode, the letter has been circulating internally for the past week without action by Google until it went viral within the company on the weekend.

Google's new vice president of diversity, integrity & governance Danielle Brown responded to the author's memo in a company email titled 'Affirming our commitment to diversity and inclusion -- and healthy debate'.

"Many of you have read an internal document shared by someone in our engineering organization, expressing views on the natural abilities and characteristics of different genders, as well as whether one can speak freely of these things at Google. And like many of you, I found that it advanced incorrect assumptions about gender. I'm not going to link to it here as it's not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages," wrote Brown.

"Diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of our values and the culture we continue to cultivate. We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company, and we'll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul. As Ari Balogh said in his internal G+ post, 'Building an open, inclusive environment is core to who we are, and the right thing to do.' Nuff said."

Balogh, a Google vice president and the manager to whom the anonymous author reports, wrote:

"I'd like to respond to the 'pc-considered-harmful post'. Questioning our assumptions and sharing different perspectives is an important part of our culture, and we want to continue fostering an environment where it's safe to engage in challenging conversations in a thoughtful way.

"But, in the process of doing that, we cannot allow stereotyping and harmful assumptions to play any part. One of the aspects of the post that troubled me deeply was the bias inherent in suggesting that most women, or men, feel or act a certain way. That is stereotyping, and it is harmful."

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