The Google employee fired for writing a 10-page screed on diversity and the role of women in tech has given his first set of interviews, speaking to right-wing YouTubers Stefan Molyneux and Jordan B Peterson.
James Damore was ousted from the search engine giant after penning a “diversity memo” dedicated to bemoaning the search engine giant’s diversity programs, along with stating that women aren’t in tech leadership roles as a result of them being more emotional and neurotic than men, among other things. Speaking to Peterson, a clinical psychologist and professor who is most famous for his discussions regarding “political correctness” and “social justice warrior culture,” Damore elaborated upon the reasoning behind him penning the memo.
“About a month and a half ago, I went to one of our diversity summits, all of it unrecorded and super secret, and they told me a lot of things that I thought were not right,” Damore said. “They were telling us about a lot of these potentially illegal practices that they’d been doing to try to increase diversity.” Damore didn’t elaborate any further on why he believes that Google’s diversity initiatives are “potentially illegal,” and there is no current evidence to support this claim. However, he is seeking legal action against the company for his termination. Damore claimed that the practices were designed to “treat people differently based on what their race or gender is.”
“Most meetings at Google are recorded and anyone at Google can watch it. They’re trying to be real open about everything, except for this,” he continued. “They don’t want any paper trial for any of these things.”
“Harmful” and “unacceptable”
Damore then went on to discuss how Google was opting not to hire white men in favor of women and minorities. “There’s a lot of ways in which they pressure people to increase the diversity of their team, and there’s no way to do that besides choosing someone based upon their race or their gender,” he said. “[They choose] more women or underrepresented racial minorities.”
Google is transparent about its employee demographics, with the Google Diversity page showing how many hires Google has made across different races and genders. As noted by the statistics, 56 per cent of Google’s employees are white and 69 per cent are male. 35 per cent of their employees are Asian, though only 4 per cent of their employees are Hispanic and 2 per cent are black.
An unnamed Google employee also appeared on the interview with Damore and Peterson, and while he largely appeared to agree with Damore’s sentiments, he argued against this specific point. “I would hesitate to say that’s 100 per cent true across 100 per cent,” he said. “So the organization I’m in, I have not personally seen anything that I would deem had crossed the line. I personally believe that there are a good amount of synergies to be found if you combine slightly different ideologies into a room, and that’s the thesis that some groups are working towards.
He continued: “Obviously there’s going to be a distribution of how people follow the rules, and it’s unfortunate to hear that it could be that some people fall to the wrong side of that distribution, but that certainly would not apply to everybody.”
According to Damore, the memo was initially submitted as feedback to the diversity summit he attended, though after it received little traction he later shared it with a group Google reportedly refers to as the “skeptics.” These skeptics then went on to pass the memo around, before it went internally viral and reached Google’s upper management, who branded it “harmful” and “unacceptable.” “The whole culture just tries to silence any dissenting view,” Damore added. “We really need some more objective ways of looking at these things.”
Speaking to Stefan Molyneux, a podcaster and author who has appeared on panels supporting the men’s rights movement, Damore said that there was “a lot of shaming” at the diversity summit. “There were a lot of people saying ‘no you can’t say that, it’s sexist,'” he said. “There’s just so much hypocrisy in the things that they’re saying, so I decided to write the document to clarify my thoughts.”
Were James Damore’s claims accurate?
Those supporting Damore’s criticisms have pointed to the science supposedly supporting his claims, but further investigation reveals that the majority of Damore’s statements are the result of either anecdotal “evidence,” or have no factual basis. In the segment of the memo in which he discusses women being more prone to neuroticism — Damore adds that women apparently have “higher anxiety, lower stress tolerance” than men — the former Google engineer points only to a Wikipedia page that includes a study seemingly validating his argument. However, a 2001 secondary analysis of the same test revealed that it was only based upon the self-perception of the subjects interviewed, and therefore cannot be used as grounds to confirm a biological difference in this area between genders.
Damore also argued that women are biologically inclined to be more agreeable than men, another claim that appears to have been debunked by studies. In a 2005 analysis, one experiment saw men and women being told that they would not be referred to as such in the test environment. As noted by the American Psychological Association (via Business Insider), “none conformed to stereotypes about their sex when given the chance to be aggressive.” The study also noted how under these conditions, “women were more aggressive and men were more passive.” A meta-analysis in 2014 also saw how when men and women evaluated each other, “women are rated as significantly more effective than men,” but in terms of self-perception, “men rate themselves as significantly more effective than women rate themselves.”
Though the science behind Damore’s claims is thoroughly questionable, many have also argued that Damore should have a right to express his thoughts regarding his employer, regardless of the negative attention it has brought upon Google. Those people have collaborated to organize a fundraiser for Damore to help pay for $60,000 in legal funds, which he plans to use to sue Google over his termination. The crowdfunding campaign is being held on WeSearchr, a site predominantly used by the alt-right for its campaigns. The site is also being used to fund the white supremacy site the Daily Stormer’s legal fund against the Southern Poverty Law Center, along with helping fund a hunt to uncover the identity of the man who punched alt-right leader and white supremacist Richard Spencer.