On the “Google Memo”

You’ve probably heard this story by now. I’m not going to give this any more emotional attention, but wanted to throw down a few quick things that have been bothering me:

  • Damore’s “freedom of thought” is not under attack.  Once you have written a 10-page screed and issued it to your fellow employees, some of whom are women who have to work on your team, you have crossed the line from “freedom of thought” to intimidation and harassment.
  •  Racial and gender diversity are not antithetical to “diversity of thought.” People who come from different racial/gender/class/etc backgrounds invariably bring their varied experiences to the table, creating diversity of thought. Unfortunately, for Silicon Valley types, “diversity of thought” seems to only refer to the right to bring libertarian and right-wing ideas to the table.
  • Those arguing that Damore shouldn’t be fired for his words seem to lack understanding of how his pseudo-scientific, misogynist ideas affect the women who have to work with him, and place Damore’s feelings and well-being above theirs. It’s a delicate balance for sure, but at a company where women only make up 31% of the global workforce and 20% of the technical workforce, Google should be placing the well-being of women above the well-being of misogynists…that is, if they actually want to change their statistics.

But on the other hand…

  • Damore is clearly sexist and thus I shall cry not even a microtear for him, but I will say this: If he’s right that employees don’t feel comfortable expressing their political views in the workplace (no, not in an intimidating 10-page screed, but in the workplace), then maybe Google does have a problem. But the reasons and solutions for that problem that Damore has identified are pseudo-scientific, misogynistic, and wrong.


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