One of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies is being attacked from within for being a liberal bastion.
A screed titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” that’s making the rounds at Google says the company’s diversity initiatives are discriminatory, and chalks up the gender gap at the company to the biological differences between men and women.
One of the writer’s bullet points: “Women, on average, have more neuroticism (higher anxiety, lower stress tolerance). This may contribute to the higher levels of anxiety women report on Googlegeist and to the lower number of women in high stress jobs.”
The 10-page manifesto in all its glory can be found on Gizmodo. The outrage over it can be found at your fingertips — all over social media and the internet. But its writer — who by many Googlers’ accounts is a male engineer who we haven’t been able to identify and therefore can’t reach for comment — also is getting virtual high-fives.
Google has not yet responded to our request for comment. But Danielle Brown, the company’s new VP of diversity, wrote an internal memo that was obtained by Motherboard.
“Part of building an open, inclusive environment means fostering a culture in which those with alternative views, including different political views, feel safe sharing their opinions,” Brown wrote. “But that discourse needs to work alongside the principles of equal employment found in our Code of Conduct, policies, and anti-discrimination laws.”
The brouhaha, which became public after several Google employees started tweeting about the manifesto Friday night, is quite a welcome for former Intel executive Brown, who said she started only a couple of weeks ago.
“Like many of you, I found that (the document) advanced incorrect assumptions about gender,” she said in the memo. “I’m not going to link to it here as it’s not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages.”
The writer complains that Google group-think has done harm and that the company needs to “stop alienating conservatives.
“While Google hasn’t harbored the violent leftists protests that we’re seeing at universities, the frequent shaming in TGIF and in our culture has created the same silence, psychologically unsafe environment,” the writer said.
TGIF is the weekly companywide meeting. By shaming, the writer might also mean the unconscious-bias training Google is implementing. The writer questions its value.
“We haven’t been able to measure any effect of our Unconscious Bias training and it has the potential for overcorrecting or backlash, especially if made mandatory.”
But while it’s true that Google publicly champions the hiring of women and minorities to diversify its workforce, which like many others in the corporate world continues to be largely white and male, the tech giant was actually accused by the Department of Labor of routinely paying women less. The government is asking the company to provide detailed employee data, which Google is fighting.
Of course, the writer of the manifesto has something to say about gender and pay:
“Yes, in a national aggregate, women have lower salaries than men for a variety of reasons. For the same work though, women get paid just as much as men. Considering women spend more money than men and that salary represents how much the employees sacrifices (e.g. more hours, stress, and danger), we really need to rethink our stereotypes around power.”
According to Google’s latest diversity report, its overall workforce is 69 percent male and 31 percent female. And women are even more under-represented in tech and leadership roles at the tech giant: 80 percent male and 20 percent female, and 75 percent male and 25 percent female, respectively.
Here’s a sampling of the back-and-forth over the manifesto.
Write a doc about how inferior women are, then try to be a hero by offering help to save the *vulnerable* 🤢🤢🤢 Still shaking in anger.
— Jaana B. Dogan 👀 (@rakyll) August 4, 2017
Oh my gosh. How did you get a job a google? It’s ironic emotion is your reaction.
— Garrett (@aceisnaughty) August 6, 2017
Meanwhile, Yonatan Zunger, a former Google engineer, wrote in a Medium post that the writer of the manifesto — who urges Google to “de-emphasize empathy,” doesn’t understand engineering.
“Essentially, engineering is all about cooperation, collaboration, and empathy for both your colleagues and your customers,” Zunger writes. “All of these traits which the manifesto described as ‘female’ are the core traits which make someone successful at engineering.”
Zunger goes on to say: “What you just did was incredibly stupid and harmful. You just put out a manifesto inside the company arguing that some large fraction of your colleagues are at root not good enough to do their jobs, and that they’re only being kept in their jobs because of some political ideas.”