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Google Engineer Fired For Writing Sexist Memo Suggesting Women Were Less Likely To Succeed

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James Damore, a former software engineer at Google, was fired on Monday, August 7, for violating the company’s code of conduct. Google fired Damore after he authored internal memo that claimed women were “biologically less likely to succeed at the company.”

Google CEO Sundar Pichai released a statement on Damore’s dismissal, saying that portions of the memo violated Google’s code of conduct. Furthermore, he said that the memo “crossed the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.'”

Damore, who began working at Google in 2013, wrote a controversial 10-page document which was first published by technology website Motherboard on Saturday. Danmore, a 2013 Harvard graduate, stated that women could not get ahead at Google due to “biological differences.”

via Bloomberg:

Damore’s 10-page memorandum accused Google of silencing conservative political opinions and argued that biological differences play a role in the shortage of women in tech and leadership positions. It circulated widely inside the company and became public over the weekend, causing a furor that amplified the pressure on Google executives to take a more definitive stand.

After the controversy swelled, Danielle Brown, Google’s new vice president for diversity, integrity and governance, sent a statement to staff condemning Damore’s views and reaffirmed the company’s stance on diversity. In internal discussion boards, multiple employees said they supported firing the author, and some said they would not choose to work with him, according to postings viewed by Bloomberg News.

“We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company,” Brown said in the statement. “We’ll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul.”

In his document, Damore detailed his belief that Google is “blind to” the differences between men and women. Furthermore, Damore said that Google staff are trained to believe that “a lack of diversity is down to discrimination when sometimes there are other factors to consider.”

Danielle Brown, Google’s new head of diversity, released a full statement on the issue:

Googlers,

I’m Danielle, Google’s brand new VP of Diversity, Integrity & Governance. I started just a couple of weeks ago, and I had hoped to take another week or so to get the lay of the land before introducing myself to you all. But given the heated debate we’ve seen over the past few days, I feel compelled to say a few words.

Many of you have read an internal document shared by someone in our engineering organization, expressing views on the natural abilities and characteristics of different genders, as well as whether one can speak freely of these things at Google. And like many of you, I found that it advanced incorrect assumptions about gender. I’m not going to link to it here as it’s not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages.

Diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of our values and the culture we continue to cultivate. We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company, and we’ll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul. As Ari Balogh said in his internal G+ post, ‘Building an open, inclusive environment is core to who we are, and the right thing to do. ‘Nuff said.’

Google has taken a strong stand on this issue, by releasing its demographic data and creating a company wide OKR on diversity and inclusion. Strong stands elicit strong reactions. Changing a culture is hard, and it’s often uncomfortable. But I firmly believe Google is doing the right thing, and that’s why I took this job.

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.

I’ve been in the industry for a long time, and I can tell you that I’ve never worked at a company that has so many platforms for employees to express themselves — TGIF, Memegen, internal G+, thousands of discussion groups. I know this conversation doesn’t end with my email today. I look forward to continuing to hear your thoughts as I settle in and meet with Googlers across the company.

Thanks,

Danielle

In an email to Bloomberg, Damore said that he had been fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes” and that he’s “currently exploring all possible legal remedies.”

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    Eric ItalianoCOED Writer
    A New Jersey native & Rutgers University graduate who firmly believes it's better to be lucky than good. My goal in life is to one day write a Batman screenplay. You can probably find me somewhere cooking either too little or too much pasta. contact me - eric.italiano@teamcoed.com
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