Google fires engineer who authored anti-diversity manifesto

3 min read

google fires employee behind anti-diversity manifesto 2

Google has faced a tumultuous weekend, and yesterday the Silicon valley giant took steps to rectify what it deems a breach in the company’s Code of Conduct. Google has now fired the software engineer responsible for writing and internally circulating a 10-page manifesto targeted at calling out diversity programmes within the firm, stating biological differences as the root causes for the gender gap and the inability of some to fulfil specific roles within a company. Google’s CEO sent out a company-wide email condemning the manifesto, stating that it advanced gender stereotypes and went against company conduct.

James Damore confirmed his firing in an email, reported by Bloomberg. The engineer is currently seeking legal advice on his options, after his dismissal over “perpetuating gender stereotypes”. Although Google’s initial response to the matter seemed in strong objection, there was never an indication that action such as this might have been taken. But growing noise over the weekend prompted a response from CEO Sundar Pichai, whose company email pointed out how the manifesto violated company conduct. “To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK,” wrote Pichai.

However, the email made no indication that Damore would be fired over the authoring of the views. Yet the company decided to take action regardless, perhaps to show how it won’t tolerate breaches of its company conduct that all employees ascribe to when working under their umbrella. It’s a strong showing from a Silicon Valley tech company, especially in the wake of numerous recent scandals. More recently Uber CEO Travis Kalanick lost his job amid sexual harassment and discrimination allegations, while Ellen Pao’s gender-discrimination lawsuit brought many of these issues to light for the first time in 2015 with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Damore’s views have already garnered both condemnation and support from different sides of the public and within Google itself – a company that has 69% of its total workforce and 80% of its technical staff comprised of males. It’s unlikely this is the last Google is going to hear on the issue.

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Last Updated: August 8, 2017

Alessandro Barbosa

You can all call me Sandy until I figure out how to edit this thing, which is probably never. Sandy not good enough? Call me xXx_J0k3R_360degreeN0Sc0pe_xXx. Also, Geoff’s a bastard.

  • D4RKL1NG
    • hahaha 2017 summed up

    • MonsterCheddar

      Yep. Typical.

  • For the Emperor!

    When it comes to tech and IT…how does gender play a role? When it comes to physical endeavours, biology does make a difference, but so does diet and lifestyle etc. Given that Google is mostly tech and IT, how does one get from “1 and 1 is 2” when it is clearly “1 and 1 is 1”?

    • Did you not know binary has like 50 different numbers

    • miaau

      Well, I can tell you that there are far more men in Engineering and IT roles in the work environments I am exposed to.

      • For the Emperor!

        I see the same here. And when I studied my degree, there were literally less than 5 ladies in a group of 300 or more!

        • miaau

          Yeah, totally like that. So I hear / heard from many people.

          If I had a degree, I would have said the same. But I do not.

        • Matthew Holliday

          Same with architecture, 150 people in first year, and there were probably only 15-20 women.
          Second year was very different though, only like 40% of the class made it through, and of the 60% that didnt make it, I think only 2 of them were women.
          They had a much higher pass rate, and looking at the quality of their work, I dont think too many shenanigans were involved.

          Girls tendancy for tidiness is an asset when 50% of your mark comes from the quality of your linework.

      • Matthew Holliday

        Same with architecture and engineering.
        Probably to a lesser extent, but still.
        Personally Im inclined to believe it has more to do with interests than bias.
        Pegging on from what skittles mentioned about social pressures, girls and boys grew up having different interests because “its just the way it is”

        The current/next generation will probably be a bit more cosmopolitan in that respect, so the numbers will start to move over in time.
        Natural progression etc.

        • miaau

          Yeah, I hope the next generation is freer in roles than the current.

          • Matthew Holliday

            So long as they dont all try to become instagram models, youtubers and socialites, we should be okay.

    • Skittle

      There was an interesting documentary on BBC the other night (something about what makes girls girls and boys boys). It showed that with human babies, boys are more interested with toy cars and girls spend more time with dolls. This may come down to social pressures bla bla bla.. The interesting thing is that they did the same experiment with a bunch of monkeys and the male monkeys went to the cars and the female monkeys went to the dolls.

      Genders may be biologically programmed to have different interests.

      • miaau

        my daughters, 1 and 3, both play with cars. Vroom, vroom and so forth. I think they like the moving up and down on wheels thing. AND play with dolls, the 3 year old sometimes in mimic of what mommy does with the baby, i.e. carrying the baby on the body with a sling, or just pretending to do the nappy and, of course, the “toemaar, toemaar” when the doll is crying.

        And that sounds like an interesting docciie.

        • Skittle

          Exceptions to every rule and things are probably changing as time goes on but I don’t think that saying men and women are the same makes men and women the same.

          • Skyblue

            Agreed. At a biological level we are different and no sex change or “I identify as” will ever magically transform your biology makeup to a different sex.

      • frikkenator

        Saying girls like dolls and boys like cars is the root of the whole problem here, enforcing stereotypes and painting an entire gender with the same brush. Some girls do like cars and end up being mechanics, some girls do like tech and end up being engineers, just because they are different to the preconceived norm doesn’t mean they should not be considered equals both in ability and compensation.

        It’s also because of these debunked stereotypes that a lot of both girls and boys are actively dissuaded from following certain career paths, and pushed towards “more appropriate” careers by parents, peers and institutions. This is what Google is trying to address with some of their programs and these programs are a large part of what the author is against. Given all of the above, no reasonable person would be against encouraging and enabling women who do want to go into tech to do so, and all this memo serves to accomplish is creating a divisive and hostile work environment, as his intentions of not wanting women in his workspace is now clear.

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    Wow this is a complex one.

    I get why they fired him, they’re well within their rights to do so, and it is fair to say he’d created an uncomfortable situation within the workplace – which justified giving him the boot. We also don’t know if this was the final straw if there were maybe other issues with the guy beforehand. I think it would be helpful to the company if their diversity head had (or would) issue a much longer response with simple explanations about where he went wrong and why.

    He’s wrong on a lot of his stuff, in other place he did have valid points. He obviously cared enough about what he perceived to be issues to write that whole thing. I doubt he’s alone in his beliefs either, so a basic “No, you’re wrong. Fired.” won’t help with people who hold those same beliefs, instead they’ll be confirmed and fester, perpetuating the issues.

    Sometimes you have to work with people you don’t like or who hold odd views on things, and this could’ve been a good teaching moment. But it seems like they just want it all to go away in a hurry.

    • miaau

      i.e., sometimes you have to live and work within the system, like it or not.

      • Alien Emperor Trevor


  • Skittle

    If he did breach the code of conduct then he should of known better, if Google is acting on Twitter outrage then shame on them.

    Remember drones, no free thinking!

  • Quentin Huggett

    Very disappointing. Fired for having alternative views. Fired for a thought crime.

    We are on a hiding to nothing. When people cant express their views and only certain views are tolerated we are in a dangerous place.

    This rascim/sexim which hunt world wide is disgusting.

    If a person takes an “action” that stops people from a certain group from doing/getting something then i will be there to fight that discrimination with you. That is racicm/sexism. But if they express an unpopular view that doesn’t fit with your world view and you then go and take away their livelihood then we have to ask the question who really is the tyrant and the “bad” people in this scenario.

    Freedom of expression is a right we should all fight for. Diversity of views is how diversity has impact. If we all had the same views there would be no progress.
    Wake up people.

    • This is the thing… Odds are when this goes to court, and it will, he’ll fight based on freedom of speech and expression. He may have been wrong to a degree, but this is nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction to appease people that “google will do the right thing”.

      All this is going to do is cause issues… Google inspire free thinking… just a pity it seems that it’s free thinking within the confines of what they deem to be acceptable. People inside google with conflicting views will now just keep it quiet, and you can’t fix an issue if nobody talks about it.

      “Progress”? Sounds more like one step forward, two steps back to me.

      • I don’t know.

        Take the gender out of this.
        Imagine you wrote an entire manifesto labelling your amorphous, genderless blob co-workers as incompetent , incapable of doing their jobs and essentially, lucky to be there.

        Is that not creating a hostile working environment? Based purely on that, he shouldnt be working there.

        • BakedBagel

          He didnt do that tho Geoff.

        • Quentin Huggett

          That’s not what he did at all Geoffrey. Not only that but your statement is exactly the issue here. You have reduced this complex issue to simple statement that in no way represents the intent and the content of his memo. A reductionist view of these issues is exactly the problem.

          Here have a look what Jordan Peterson had to say on this in his interview with this guy.

          • I have yet to watch the video – but I have had time to pore through his manifesto some more and give it a little more thought instead of going with knee-jerk reactions and you’re right to a large degree.

            I was being completely reductionist. While I don’t agree with many of Danmore’s views and I believe that his sharing them in the way that he did weren;t quite right, the issue is indeed a complex one. Intent and context do matter – but in the end he has created – unintentionally, but it exists nonetheless – a hostile working environment.

          • Quentin Huggett

            Geoffrey you claim “a hostile working environment” has been created here. Has it? In what way? Please do elaborate. Who did he create a hostile environment for?
            Do you know he released this memo a month before this hit the headlines?
            That only once it made the news did the higher ups take notice.

            Watch the video i posted earlier. As Jordan points out googles response and lambasting him for using words like “neuroticism” when in fact that is the correct scientific term.

            Intent matters, context matters and content matters.

            The context of this suggest that there is no hostile environment at all. It making the news changed the context, and thus some FEAR mongers/snow flakes claimed hostility.

            Intent, his intent was to discuss this issue, to present his views and…

            Content, the content of his memo does in fact deal with the facts here.
            Take a look at this article

            Written by a woman, let me quote the last two paragraphs which some it up quite well.

            “Some intentionally deny the science because they are afraid it will be used to justify keeping women out of STEM. But sexism isn’t the result of knowing facts; it’s the result of what people choose to do with them.

            This is exactly what the mob of outrage should be mobilizing for, instead of denying biological reality and being content to spend a weekend doxxing a man so that he would lose his job. At this point, as foreshadowed in Mr. Damore’s manifesto, we should be more concerned about viewpoint diversity than diversity revolving around gender.” – Debra Soh

            Like i said earlier…

            This rascim/sexim which hunt world wide is disgusting.

            This man should not of lost his job for this and the fact such a large amount of people think it right that he did is truly concerning.

            “….. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
            – Martin Niemöller

  • and in our country minsters assault woman and get off with a slap on the wrist and a public apology.

    Ah the times we live in.

  • HairyEwok

    So much for free speech i guess.

    • Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences. It means that he can’t be put in prison for what he’s said – but if he’s violated the policy of the company he works for they have every right to boot him.

  • Rick

    Quick , ask 10 women random women what they do for a living? Chances are engineering won’t feature.

    Stop trying to fix diversity in certain jobs. People choose to do what they want. These “Diversity” programmes are sexist and racist by definition. I’ts like saying “You’re a women so you get something based solely on the sex you were born as”. That statement applies to race as well.

    Quite ironic that these progressive people/companies are no more tolerant than the KKK. Google , you lost my respect and even though I hate apple , I will be getting a ios phone and switch to bing.

  • Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

    Meanwhile, some of us sit back and watch in amusement how the rest of the world bickers among itself

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