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Google swiftly fired the male software engineer Monday who penned an “anti-diversity” memo that sparked outrage throughout Silicon Valley. The internal document argued that fewer women work in technical positions because of biological differences, not social constructs or discrimination.
The 10-page manifesto, titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” was written by James Damore, who told Reuters he was fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes” and is “currently exploring all possible legal remedies.” Before he was fired, Damore sent a note to the U.S. National Labor Relations Board accusing Google of silencing 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.
The manifesto spread like wildfire across Google after at least eight employees started tweeting about it late last week. It was first shared on a company mailing list and Google+, and went “internally viral,” according to a Google employee speaking with Motherboard. At least one employee reportedly threatened to quit her job if the human resources department didn’t take action. A large majority of employees at the Mountain View company were disturbed by some of the memo’s claims, namely, that inherent psychological difference between men and women are the reason men are more cut out for tech roles.
“Note, I’m not saying that all men differ from women in the following ways or that these differences are “just.” 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 document goes on to list several supposed biological differences between men and women; for example, women look for more work-life balance and have higher anxiety while men have a greater drive for status. The memo states, “We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism,” and includes a number of suggestions, including “stop alienating conservatives,” “de-moralize diversity,” and “de-emphasize empathy.”
Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai told employees that portions of the document violated the company’s Code of Conduct and “[crossed] the line by advancing harmful stereotypes in our workplace.”
“Our job is to build great products for users that make a difference in their lives,” Pichai wrote in a statement obtained by Recode. “To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK.”
As Gizmodo reports, Damore’s dismissal from Google has rallied members of the alt-right, who are now crowdfunding the former employee and calling for a boycott against the tech giant.
Motherboard published a full copy of the memo on its site.
Phillip Tracy is a former technology staff writer at the Daily Dot. He's an expert on smartphones, social media trends, and gadgets. He previously reported on IoT and telecom for RCR Wireless News and contributed to NewBay Media magazine. He now writes for Laptop magazine.