Earlier this week, an employee at Google, James Damore was fired after writing and sharing an internal, 3,300-word “man-ifesto” in which he attacked Google’s “politically correct monoculture” and said biological differences lead to women being inferior engineers.
Firing Damore for this leaked memo is technically legal. The question now is: does this perpetuate that which Damore argued? Is Google becoming an “ideological echo chamber?” The answer (as it pertains to Damore, at least) is no. When you create a hostile work environment (and on the assumption that women are lesser than men), you’re probably getting canned.
Damore went on to claim that Google’s progressive initiatives “alienate non-progressives,” which is rather ironic. Not to generalize “non-progressives,” but it seems that when you suppress the rights of others/refuse to give them respect, the person who is more likely to lose friends is the “non-progressive.” In Damore’s case, non-progressives are also likely to lose their job. Despite that, there is something to be said about Damore feeling safe enough to openly share this document with others (and put his name on it). Former Google engineer Erica Baker responded to the news of the memo, saying it was “disappointing but unsurprising.” Damore clearly felt that this was something he could get away with, and that is the problem. Because if this doesn’t prove that sexism is alive and well today, I don’t know what does.
In his memo, Damore says he doesn’t deny that sexism exists (though he thinks the statistically-proven gender wage gap is a myth…) and that he does not endorse using stereotypes (though he also states that higher rates of anxiety in women is why there aren’t more women in high stress jobs). One contradictory statement after another, Damore shows not only does he not seem to understand engineering or gender, but he also does not know how to make a valid point (especially since there is no evidence for his ludicrous claims). In addition, he doesn’t even know how misogynistic he is being.
Feminists (regardless of gender) need to speak up in moments of injustice, no matter how small. Every act of resistance can chip away at the abundance of this type of rhetoric. And it’s necessary because, memo aside, this type of discriminatory speech has severe implications. Silicon Valley has notoriously low rates of non-whites and non-males. According to the annual Google diversity report released in June of 2017, white people make up 56% of employees and men make up 69%. If we want an equal society, race and gender (among other things) included, then we clearly cannot afford to let comments slide; we do not have a moment to waste.