I hope it’s clear that I’m not saying that diversity is bad, that Google or society is 100% fair, that we shouldn’t try to correct for existing biases, or that minorities have the same experience of those in the majority.
But why let that stand in the way of lazy reporting and inflammatory headlines?
So what exactly is the problem with this this memo [full text here]?
The author, former Google Senior Software Engineer James Damore (he’s since been fired), goes off the rails with his explanations for why there isn’t enough gender diversity at Google specifically and in the computer world more generally.
He makes a series of sexist claims about how women are different from men, and in the process spouts a bunch of pseudo-scientific gibberish about biological determinism of the sexes. Among other things, Damore states that women relative to men supposedly:
- Are more prone to feelings than ideas
- Prefer people to things
- Are likelier to prefer jobs in “social or artistic areas”
- Are more gregarious and less assertive
- Are more extroverted
- Are more cooperative
- Are more agreeable, and . . . wait for it . . . neurotic!
Because apparently this is the Gilded Age and Charlotte Perkins Gilman is looking for just the right man to inspire her to write “The Yellow Wallpaper.”
Damore maintains these alleged broad differences between men and women are a fact of science, but he offers up no scientific evidence to support his argument. He firmly dismisses the notion that any such differences could be the result of social factors alone, but again he offers no evidence.
Other highlights include equally simplistic lists about the differences between left-wing and right-wing biases, and unsubstantiated drivel about everything from evolutionary psychology and the universal qualities of human culture to prenatal testosterone and the gender identification of males castrated at birth and raised as females.
Cause, why not.
In short, Damore’s memo is a rambling mess, reading less a coherent report and more like a personal catharsis of his personal demons about women and gender.
As I read the memo, Damore came off as a clever little moron, a smart kid who went to good schools but learned little more than how to code and be sophomoric. The kind of little know-it-all who thinks he’s way smarter than he actually is, and has now been done in by hubris and a lack of footnotes.
Basically me as a teenager if you change “code” to “follow sports and listen to music.”
Think about it. What kind of personality does it take for a twenty-something to believe that silly ‘ole Google’s been handling this whole gender diversity thing all wrong, that he knows what’s really going on in the world of science and men and women and corporations and economies and culture, and that he can single handedly can fix it all by writing up a ten page memo and circulating it around the company?
It’s either someone who’s utterly delusional (which Damore does not seem to be) or someone deeply insecure who masks by telling himself and people around him how smart and competent he is. Here, let me prove it to you! I just fixed the gender gap with this handy memo!
You know, the kinda guy who lies on his LinkedIn page about having a Ph.D. from Harvard when he really only has a Master’s degree. Yes, Damore did that too.
James Damore is a boy who thought he was a man. He entered the world-of-men-and-not-enough-women, and attempted to do something grand and manly, but got in over his head and was exposed for the child that he is.
Unfortunately for him, the whole world found out. And now he has a choice. He can grow up and move on, or he can become a poster child for the Age of Trump, another wounded man-child never admitting his mistakes and demanding we all acknowledge his greatness.