It was a rough week at Google. On Aug. 4, a 10-page memo titled "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber" started circulating among employees. It argued that the disparities between men and women in tech and leadership roles were rooted in biology, not bias. On Monday, James Damore, the software engineer who wrote it, was fired; he then filed a labor complaint to contest his dismissal.
We've heard lots about Silicon Valley's toxic culture this summer - venture capitalists who proposition female start-up founders, man-child CEOs like Uber's Travis Kalanick, abusive nondisparagement agreements that prevent harassment victims from describing their experiences. Damore's memo added fuel to the fire, arguing that women are more neurotic and less stress-tolerant than men, less likely to pursue status, and less interested in the "systemizing" work of programming. "We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism," he concludes.
Like the stories that came before it, coverage of this memo has focused on how a sexist tech culture harms people in the industry - the women and people of color who've been patronized, passed over, and pushed out. But what happens in Silicon Valley doesn't stay in Silicon Valley. It comes into our homes and onto our screens, affecting all of us who use technology, not just those who make it.Read More