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Google fires employee who wrote anti-diversity memo

Google fires employee who wrote anti-diversity memo


Reportedly for ‘perpetuating gender stereotypes’

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Google has fired a senior software engineer for authoring a 10-page screed condemning the company’s diversity efforts and claiming men are biologically more predisposed to working in the tech industry than women, Bloomberg reports. The engineer, James Damore, confirmed his firing in an email to Bloomberg, saying he was terminated for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.”

Damore’s so-called “manifesto,” which went viral internally at Google this past weekend, was first reported by Motherboard, leading to Gizmodo’s publishing of the full text of the document. From there, intense debate ensued surrounding Damore’s viewpoints and the extent to which they undermined Google’s and other tech companies’ continued efforts to increase the representation of women in tech.

Damore says he was fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.”

The crux of Damore’s argument was that biological differences between men and women are the cause of the gender gap at Google and the broader tech industry. He also said that efforts to remedy the gap are drowning out “ideological diversity” and creating a culture that discriminates against conservative viewpoints.

Google’s initial response to the document was tempered. Danielle Brown, the company’s recently appointed vice president of diversity, said in her initial statement that Damore’s views are not ones “that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages.” However, Brown made a point to say that Google is tolerant of opposing viewpoints. “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,” she wrote. It was unclear at the time what, if any, action Google planned to take on the matter.

Despite Brown’s statement, backlash against Damore began to grow on Monday, especially once his name began circulating on Twitter. (Both Google and the journalists behind earlier reports on the screed originally declined to name Damore, citing his personal safety. His name was reportedly attached to the document, making his identity internally clear.)

The mounting backlash prompted Google CEO Sundar Pichai to send a company-wide email titled, “Our words matter.” The email, the existence of which was reported earlier today by Recode, definitively stated that Damore had violated the company’s code of conduct, crossing “the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace,” Pichai wrote. “To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK.”

While Pichai’s email did not conclusively say Damore was fired, the engineer’s confirmation to Bloomberg makes clear that Google deemed his violation of the code of conduct — and the unwanted attention it generated — serious enough to warrant termination. The act will undoubtedly add fuel to the fire, as conservative factions on the internet have already sprung up in Damore’s defense, hailing him as a hero for calling out political correctness and speaking out against diversity in the tech industry.