Published: Tue, August 08, 2017
Tech | By Constance Martin

Google employee sparks gender equality debate with controversial memo

Google employee sparks gender equality debate with controversial memo

The script argues against the search giant's inclusivity and diversity strategy on the grounds that - from a non-biased standpoint - "men and women biologically differ in many ways" and that "these differences aren't just socially constructed".

Unsurprisingly, the document has caused outrage amongst many employees at the liberal-leaning firm, with internal discussion boards set ablaze with debate. However, the internal document went public over the weekend and the tech behemoth has had to go into damage control, forced to defend its own poor record on racial and gender diversity.

Cut to someone publicly outing the employee who wrote the memo, and him being thoroughly excoriated on social media.

The company should end its programs created to encourage members of minorities and underrepresented groups from joining the company, because it's "lowering the bar". The document, titled "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber", was distributed internally, and calls for the company to replace its diversity initiatives with ones that promote "ideological diversity".

Motherboard has now received a response from Danielle Brown, Google's vice president of diversity, integrity and governance, who was brought onboard to manage investigations that the company isn't paying female employees a fair wage.

Some conservative commentators, including internet host Tara McCarthy and political scientist Charles Murray, supported the author of the document.

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Google is now battling the U.S. Department of Labour as the agency says it found "systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce", the Telegraph reported. The objective of the memo was to persuade Google to abandon certain diversity-related practices the engineer found objectionable and to convince co-workers to join his cause, or at least discuss the points he raised.

He also suggests ways to improve diversity by addressing biological differences directly, such as making "software engineering more people-oriented", "allowing and truly endorsing part-time work" and addressing a fixed idea of the "male gender role".

According to Google, 80 percent of its tech employees are men, compared to just 20 percent who are women.

"Diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of our values and the culture we continue to cultivate", Brown writes, also adding that she "found that [the memo] advanced incorrect assumptions about gender".

"Google has taken a strong stand on this issue, by releasing its demographic data" and by taking other steps, she said. There is no evidence that women are less skilled coders or are not tech-savvy.

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