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Male Google engineer who penned 10-page rant against tech giant’s diversity policies angers co-workers

The essay came as Google engaged in an ongoing effort to try to get more women and minorities into technical and leadership jobs

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 August, 2017, 5:13pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 August, 2017, 9:55pm

A document written by an unnamed senior software engineer at Google suggesting the company encourage “ideological” rather than gender diversity, is generating anger within the company and in Silicon Valley.

Titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber”, the male author wrote that women don’t make up 50 per cent of the company’s tech and leadership positions not because of sexism but because of differences in their preferences and abilities.

He also wrote that the company’s focus on diversity tends to alienate conservatives, which he believed was bad for business as conservatives tend to be more conscientious, a trait that was required for “much of the drudgery and maintenance work characteristic of a mature company.”

The essay came as Google engaged in an ongoing effort to try to get more women and minorities into technical and leadership jobs, and as the Mountain View-based company was being investigated by the US Labour Department over allegations that it does not pay men and women equally.

It also comes against a backdrop of heightened discord throughout the country as once-marginalised views of the so-called alt-right, which decry “political correctness,” have been amplified and championed by many supporters of US President Donald Trump.

Just a month ago Google hired Danielle Brown, the former head of diversity at Intel, to be its vice president of diversity.

In the past several years as staffing data has come out, Silicon Valley firms have been shown to hire a high proportion of white and Asian men, but fewer women and other minorities. Increased efforts to deal with the lack of diversity have also created a backlash against such initiatives.

The 10-page manifesto against Google’s diversity initiatives appears to have first been circulated internally at the company Friday. It was initially reported by Motherboard.

On Saturday Gizmodo published the full document, prompting a flood of angry tweets and some supporting the writer’s right to free speech.

The overall tone of the essay was calm. The author acknowledged that there was bias that held women back in tech and leadership. He did not suggest that women weren’t capable of doing technical work but rather that the differences between men and women should be acknowledged.

He stated that women tend to be more interested in people rather than things, “empathising vs. systemising,” whereas men had a higher driver for status and so tend to end up in leadership positions.

He also said that on average, women had more “neuroticism” as defined as “higher anxiety, lower stress tolerance”.

The author did not believe that Google should engage in social engineering just to make its jobs equally appealing to men and women, calling “discriminatory” programmes at the company available only to women and minorities.

Google didn’t appear to have any plans to discipline the staffer, though Brown, the vice president for diversity, did say that the views expressed in the essay were not endorsed, promoted or encouraged by the company.

In a memo to employees on Saturday, she wrote: “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. But that discourse needs to work alongside the principles of equal employment found in our Code of Conduct, policies, and anti-discrimination laws.”