/ Google Manifesto writer sacked

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
Surprised this hasn't come up for discussion here, given recent lively topics on gender, sexism, discrimination, etc.

http://gizmodo.com/exclusive-heres-the-full-10-page-anti-diversity-screed-1797564320

Certain parallels to the Prof Tim Hunt case, and unsurprisingly I think the sacking of the Google employee shows a somewhat dark place we are in with regard to political correctness and free discussion.
4
davidbeynon on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

He embarrassed his employer in public. That will get you sacked just about anywhere.
3
Coel Hellier - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

It's better to link to this version of it (which includes a crucial explanatory figure):

https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3914586/Googles-Ideological-Echo-Chamber.pdf
Coel Hellier - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

Possibly the best commentary on the affair that I've seen:

http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/08/07/contra-grant-on-exaggerated-differences/
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to davidbeynon:
> He embarrassed his employer in public. That will get you sacked just about anywhere.

I could imagine in some forms of employment, writing a reasoned document which argues that your anti-discrimination policies may actually be causing discrimination, might get you sacked.

But I wouldn't have thought an organisation such as Google would be one of them. Nor that any Silicon Valley employer would be opposed to such internal discussion or dissent.

EDIT: the only real embarrassment to befall his employer has been their knee-jerk response. They could very well face legal actions and are will likely have to scramble to create a justification for their actions.
Post edited at 14:37
1
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to Coel Hellier:

I've found a few similar articles, by people who could reasonably be considered experts in the field, and all broadly in favour of the manifesto writer's points and astounded by the reaction.

http://quillette.com/2017/08/07/google-memo-four-scientists-respond/

The social media storm is depressing, as is mainstream media's response. Few gave any recognition of the writer's points, generally used extremely emotive language with which to negatively frame his argument, and seem to have made his sacking sound like a right, proper and reasonable response.
1
davidbeynon on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

Doesn't matter if it was "well reasoned" or not. It caused google a lot of trouble, which was entirely predictable and unnecessary.
8
Coel Hellier - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> Few gave any recognition of the writer's points, generally used extremely emotive language with which to negatively frame his argument, ...

Agreed. Accounts in the mainstream media (Times, Guardian, BBC, etc) all seem to misunderstand and misrepresent what he was saying. I don't know whether this is (1) entirely deliberate, (2) a genuine inability to understand *distributions* and the different between a *group* *average* of a trait and the traits of each individual within the group, or (3) just going by what others have said about it, and so ignorantly repeating misrepresentations.
1
wintertree - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

I don't know what Google's social media policy is, but I do know my employers equivalent.

If I wilfully solicit a shitstorm for my employer on social media, then I don't have a leg to stand on, regardless of the validity of my view(s). I can't imagine getting the sack for an incident like this, but only because of the relative strength of UK employment law vs US law.

Given the drive to protect corporate reputation, the problem here could be seen as people using social media to shitstir, leaving Google with no choice.

Not a good situation to reach.
Post edited at 14:51
MonkeyPuzzle - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

If I wrote a 10-page diatribe against my company's policies *and* supposedly deeply-held philosophy, circulated it at work and then watch it subsequently leaked, I would have effectively viewed it as a being very long resignation letter.
5
MG - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to wintertree:
> I don't know what Google's social media policy is, but I do know my employers equivalent.

> If I wilfully solicit a shitstorm for my employer on social media,

But he didn't. It was a internal memo others circulated publicly. I really can't see what is so objectionable about it anyway. He may be wrong but is suggesting male and female brains and preferences differ now considered something you can be sacked for? For google diversity is good as long as everyone agrees, it seems, which is odd really for a diversity policy.
Post edited at 14:55
wintertree - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to MG:

> But he didn't.

It's pretty obvious exactly what was going to happen. In my mind I've made the jump to the person expecting this to happen because it's sooooo inconceivable that it wouldn't. Perhaps I'm to judgemental. If they didn't think the memo would escape into a social media shitstorm that brings their judgement into even more doubt...
Post edited at 14:58
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to davidbeynon:

> Doesn't matter if it was "well reasoned" or not. It caused google a lot of trouble, which was entirely predictable and unnecessary.

Really? It was an internal document, probably leaked publicly not by the writer but by those whose views it challenged.

Regardless, it shouldn't have created any trouble. There is little contentious in it at all. It is perfectly reasonable for an employer to critique policy. In fact it should be applauded and encouraged. Why any organisation would have a problem with that is beyond me.

It actually caused Google no trouble. There was a social media storm before most people involved had even read the original document. That is to say, lots of people jumping to conclusions about something they know nothing about.
The author cannot be held responsible for that.

The "problem" lies elsewhere.

Do you think his sacking is the correct course of action?
2
tony on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to wintertree:

> Given the drive to protect corporate reputation, the problem here could be seen as people using social media to shitstir, leaving Google with no choice.

Did he write it for release onto social media, or for internal consumption?

Seems to me Google had plenty of choice. It would be a strange world if all the employees of a company had the same views on gender diversity. It would have been very easy to say that the views expressed don't represent the ethos of the company but that the company respects the rights of the author to make his views known.

Mind you, it is all in the context of numerous law suits and complaints about discrimination across Silicon Valley, which may well have been an influencing factor.
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to wintertree:

None of this was posted on social media. Those reacting to his post did so.

So the shitstorm was wilfully created by those who objected to what he wrote.

But even if that wasn't the case and he had critiqued his organisation in such a way on social media, I still wouldn't have an issue with it. Where I have worked we have had a very open and liberal policy in this regard, and it has been extremely positive. Opening up policy and operations for open scrutiny can be good. In this case, his critique was measured and moderate and didn't reflect poorly on Google even if you agree with his criticism.

However, their reaction leaves them wide open for criticism.
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to MonkeyPuzzle:

> If I wrote a 10-page diatribe against my company's policies *and* supposedly deeply-held philosophy, circulated it at work and then watch it subsequently leaked, I would have effectively viewed it as a being very long resignation letter.

I find that depressing.

Organisations should be open to internal dissent and criticism, so long as it doesn't become dysfunctional or abusive. Put another way, if you are going to create policy then you would do well to listen to the views of those impacted by those policies. In this case the criticism came from what appears to be a well qualified and intelligent individual (www.linkedin.com/in/james-damore-b277b62b/).

If someone leaks the document with the intention of stirring up problems, then they are the ones who should be resigning.

Moreover, the underlying point by the author was not that he has an objection to policies combatting discrimination. Rather, that the policies put in place to do so may be having the complete opposite effect.

If you look at that as the equivalent of a resignation letter, then I despair.
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to wintertree:

> It's pretty obvious exactly what was going to happen. In my mind I've made the jump to the person expecting this to happen because it's sooooo inconceivable that it wouldn't. Perhaps I'm to judgemental. If they didn't think the memo would escape into a social media shitstorm that brings their judgement into even more doubt...

Unfortunately, this is the kind of reasoning that leads to decision-making behind closed doors, off-record, with no paper-trail.

If someone can't put in writing what their concerns are or even whistle-blow, and if we instead take at face-value and react in accordance to a completely contrived social media response that has no basis on the science being argued, then we are in a very very bad place.

MonkeyPuzzle - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> ...If you look at that as the equivalent of a resignation letter, then I despair.

I work for a large company (I'd say multi-national, but it's UK and US, so that's overstating it) and we have pretty well-defined processes for raising grievances with policy or application of policy. Writing a 10-page manifesto is not it. I doubt it is in Google either.
1
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to MonkeyPuzzle:
His method doesn't appear to have been the reason he was sacked. In fact, the grounds for his legal case seem to rest on the fact that he recently formally raised this issue through proper channels and that sacking someone in such an instance is unlawful.

The response of Google seems to have been in response to the content...which if that is suffcient to have you sacked from an organisation that champions freedom of expression then we are in an Orwelian world.

The document he posted appears to have been to an internal discussion board, with his very first sentence being "Feel free to comment"...which to me looks very much like someone wanting to get a feel for how others in the organisation feel about something, and which (again) seems entirely sensible.

At the very least, assuming he was inappropriate when there is no evidence to suggest so, thereby feeding in to his damnation, seems unfair.

EDIT: Here is the internal response from Google Boss, which appears to explain why he was sacked:

"Subject: Our words matter

This has been a very difficult few days. I wanted to provide an update on the memo that was circulated over this past week.

First, let me say that we strongly support the right of Googlers to express themselves, and much of what was in that memo is fair to debate, regardless of whether a vast majority of Googlers disagree with it. However, portions of the memo violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace. Our job is to build great products for users that make a difference in their lives. To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK. It is contrary to our basic values and our Code of Conduct, which expects "each Googler to do their utmost to create a workplace culture that is free of harassment, intimidation, bias and unlawful discrimination."

The memo has clearly impacted our co-workers, some of whom are hurting and feel judged based on their gender. Our co-workers shouldn't have to worry that each time they open their mouths to speak in a meeting, they have to prove that they are not like the memo states, being "agreeable" rather than "assertive," showing a "lower stress tolerance," or being "neurotic."

At the same time, there are co-workers who are questioning whether they can safely express their views in the workplace (especially those with a minority viewpoint). They too feel under threat, and that is also not OK. People must feel free to express dissent. So to be clear again, many points raised in the memo — such as the portions criticizing Google's trainings, questioning the role of ideology in the workplace, and debating whether programs for women and underserved groups are sufficiently open to all — are important topics. The author had a right to express their views on those topics — we encourage an environment in which people can do this and it remains our policy to not take action against anyone for prompting these discussions.

The past few days have been very difficult for many at the company, and we need to find a way to debate issues on which we might disagree — while doing so in line with our Code of Conduct. I'd encourage each of you to make an effort over the coming days to reach out to those who might have different perspectives from your own. I will be doing the same.

I have been on work related travel in Africa and Europe the past couple of weeks and had just started my family vacation here this week. I have decided to return tomorrow as clearly there's a lot more to discuss as a group — including how we create a more inclusive environment for all.

So please join me, along with members of the leadership team at a town hall on Thursday. Check your calendar soon for details.

— Sundar
"

....so the objections, for which he appears to have been sacked, are to statements in the manifesto that appear to be based on scientific evidence/fact.
Post edited at 15:46
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Agreed. Accounts in the mainstream media (Times, Guardian, BBC, etc) all seem to misunderstand and misrepresent what he was saying. I don't know whether this is (1) entirely deliberate, (2) a genuine inability to understand *distributions* and the different between a *group* *average* of a trait and the traits of each individual within the group, or (3) just going by what others have said about it, and so ignorantly repeating misrepresentations.

I think (1) and (3) most likely the main cause without any real interest in (2).

Sells more copy to find another misogynist to pillory, and having rooted one out from their hole stamps one's credentials to the flag. Very unlikely the journalists will suffer the consequences, nor be required to apologise.
planetmarshall on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> ....so the objections, for which he appears to have been sacked, are to statements in the manifesto that appear to be based on scientific evidence/fact.

Which ones are those?
3
planetmarshall on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> Really? It was an internal document, probably leaked publicly not by the writer but by those whose views it challenged.

I read the first couple of pages and rapidly lost the will to live after being overwhelmed by cliche. How this individual who quite clearly has a rather over inflated view of himself ever got a job at Google is beyond me. Perhaps they have a twit quota to fill, and someone should write a 10 page diatribe on that.

This article mostly reflects my opinion of it.

https://medium.com/@yonatanzunger/so-about-this-googlers-manifesto-1e3773ed1788
9
davidbeynon on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

> Which ones are those?

The ones he agrees with. Obviously.
3
trouserburp - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:
he definitely saw it coming
"when a man complains about a gender issue affecting men he's labelled a misogynist and a whiner"

agree positive discrimination or policies that begin by saying they are not 'positive discrimination' and then go on to positively discriminate carry pros and cons and are an obvious tightrope that need to be open to debate. The explanation for sacking him is rubbish, he's not asserting prejudices he's very clearly asserting that individuals are often different from a group. They could've fired him for writing long dubiously-cited rants during work time

But maybe he gets a big out-of-court settlement and has his point heard and debated in public, Google looks anti-discrimination (mostly, according to the papers) win-win?
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

> Which ones are those?

http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/08/07/contra-grant-on-exaggerated-differences/
http://quillette.com/2017/08/07/google-memo-four-scientists-respond/
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/no-the-google-manifesto-isnt-sexist-or-anti-diversity-its-sc...

> This article mostly reflects my opinion of it.
https://medium.com/@yonatanzunger/so-about-this-googlers-manifesto-1e3773ed1788

Hmmm, he comes across as a rather bigger twit - and as it happens his points seem to have been addressed in the links above. Feel free to stick to your guns on which is correct though.



planetmarshall on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to MG:

> But he didn't. It was a internal memo others circulated publicly. I really can't see what is so objectionable about it anyway.

Well, try to imagine being a female software engineer at Google and being asked to work with him.

4
trouserburp - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

Imagine being agreeable, stressed and neurotic?
planetmarshall on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:


The first scientist accuses those who object to the post as casting slurs and ad hominem, and then apparently entirely without irony goes on to say The arrogance of most of the comments reflects exactly the type of smug self-appointed superiority that has led to widespread resentment of the left among reasonable people. I didn't read the rest.

2
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

> Well, try to imagine being a female software engineer at Google and being asked to work with him.

Err, be a professional, realise that there are people you have to work with who may hold views (political, policy or otherwise) different to your own and get on with it? He hasn't after all criticised women (or perhaps you haven't read what he wrote and think he has?).

Or, you could claim that your feelings have been hurt because someone told you he hates women and refuse to work with him, while retreating to your safe space.
MG - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:
> Well, try to imagine being a female software engineer at Google and being asked to work with him.

Working with someone who holds different opinions to me? I think I could cope.


Edit: Thinking about it, I am pretty certain I work effectively with people who variously think, I am going to hell, I abuse my family, and that women shouldn't work at all. I seem to manage well enough, so I imagine I could cope with working with someone who thinks, on average, male and female brains differ and this might explain in part imbalances in male/female ratios in the work place.
Post edited at 16:47
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

> The first scientist accuses those who object to the post as casting slurs and ad hominem, and then apparently entirely without irony goes on to say The arrogance of most of the comments reflects exactly the type of smug self-appointed superiority that has led to widespread resentment of the left among reasonable people. I didn't read the rest.

Yep. He has a point. Try reading the comments on Gizmodo that he was referring to. It is exactly the kind of tripe and abuse that makes people resent people who claim to represent left views.

But good for you being sufficiently offended by that to decide the subsequent refutations of the criticisms against the author weren't worth reading.
1
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to trouserburp:

> But maybe he gets a big out-of-court settlement and has his point heard and debated in public, Google looks anti-discrimination (mostly, according to the papers) win-win?

Unfortunately, for Google, I don't think they are going to come out of it so well.

They are already facing questions similar to that of Facebook about bias, and as a search engine this is of particular concern.

The author's point was precisely that in seeking to stamp out easily observed bias, you may in turn overlook your own bias, and create a worse problem than you started with or move in to the realms of authoritarianism. The message from Google is internally inconsistent, reactionary. I think it more likely they will look worse rather than better once the dust has settled and people have had a chance to calmly read what was actually said without the social media witch-hunt volume turned up to 11 in the background.
planetmarshall on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> Err, be a professional, realise that there are people you have to work with who may hold views (political, policy or otherwise) different to your own and get on with it? He hasn't after all criticised women (or perhaps you haven't read what he wrote and think he has?).

The people I work with may be raving conspiracy theorists, marxists, creationists or fascists. So long as it doesn't affect the working environment it is not the company's problem.

If, on the other hand, an employee thinks it appropriate to circulate a document stating the following :

Women, on average, have more...

...Neuroticism (higher anxiety, lower stress tolerance). This may contribute to the higher levels of anxiety women report on Googlegeist and to the lower number of women in high stress jobs.


Seriously, I am amazed that you don't have a problem with this. I would be concerned about working with anyone who thought that this was appropriate - it is totally unprofessional and I am entirely unsurprised that they have faced disciplinary action. I would do the same.

11
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

It's a sad day when stating fact (the earth is not flat, it is not the center of the solar system, the planet is warming, men are proportionally more likely to commit crime and be violent than women, etc etc.) is considered a bad thing - simply because we don't like the sound of it.

In this case, and if you had read the links, "contrary to what detractors would have you believe, women are, on average, higher in neuroticism and agreeableness, and lower in stress tolerance.", see (as referenced) link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-3-319-09384-0_11

Now you might not like that this is what the science tells us, but science isn't "inappropriate" or "unprofessional". It is the nearest thing to "fact" that we can get and you are better off listening to it rather than closing your ears. The messenger is no more at fault than the science.

Likewise, if it is used in critiquing policy then chances are it is being used for justifiable reasons - especially if that critique is attempting to remove bias.

I hope you aren't in a position to bring about discipliniary action, as I fear for your employees with views like that.
1
MG - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

Is it clear exactly what form this memo took? I can see randomly emaillng opinions to colleagues on politics, religion, or differences between men and women, might be frowned upon, although hardly a sackable offence unless repeated many times.
RomTheBear on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:
> Surprised this hasn't come up for discussion here, given recent lively topics on gender, sexism, discrimination, etc.


> Certain parallels to the Prof Tim Hunt case, and unsurprisingly I think the sacking of the Google employee shows a somewhat dark place we are in with regard to political correctness and free discussion.

The memo made lots of spurious claims about the gender gap being caused by differences in cognitive abilities between men and women, with dubious references to Wikipedia, despite the fact that there is proper scientific evidence showing the opposite is true.
No wonder he's fired, he produced a sexist, unscientific report, and embarrassed the company.
Post edited at 17:16
7
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to MG:

No, it's not entirely clear.

But he doesn't seem to have been sacked because he was spamming people or posting inappropriately. Even the response from Google has been there was a lot of validity in what he said and that they welcome the open dialogue.

Rather, the problem appears to be that his claims (average differences in genders) are possibly unfashionable, have therefore been taken at face value to be sexist and offensive, when in fact they appear to be supported by scientific evidence rather than contrary to it.

Even if the scientific evidence was contested, that would hardly make it wrong to cite them. Where would academia be (and therefore STEM itself) if it weren't for conflicting views being given air time to be fleshed out and challenged?

1
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> The memo made lots of spurious claims about the gender gap being caused by differences in cognitive abilities between men and women, with dubious references to Wikipedia, despite the fact that there is proper scientific evidence showing the opposite is true.

Really? He is "sexist", an embarassment to the company, and should be sacked?

Did you read the subsequent links supporting the science? Which scientific evidence are you referring to?

2
RomTheBear on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> Really? He is "sexist", an embarassment to the company, and should be sacked?

> Did you read the subsequent links supporting the science? Which scientific evidence are you referring to?

None of the links support the science.
The study he cites never says the gender differences it lists have a proven biological mechanism - only that there's a possibility one might exist.
5
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> None of the links support the science.

I'm intrigued. Can you elaborate?

Coel Hellier - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:
> If, on the other hand, an employee thinks it appropriate to circulate a document stating the following : "Women, on average, have more . . . Neuroticism"

But there is evidence that it is true! E.g. "Our results showed that women are almost twice as likely to suffer from anxiety as men, and that people living in Europe and North America are disproportionately affected."

https://theconversation.com/women-are-far-more-anxious-than-men-heres-the-science-60458

Are you saying that it should not be said because you think it is not true, or that you think it should not be said even if it is true, or that this topic should be off-limits whatever?

Just supposing a female employee stated that men are far more likely to commit violent crime or sexual assault than women -- which is very true and borne out by all the evidence (sorry men, but it really is!) -- would you then think it reasonable for men to refuse to work with her? Would you think it reasonable for men to take time off work as a consequence because they "are hurting" and upset? Would you suggest she be sacked?
Post edited at 17:35
Irk the Purist - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

Science does not exist outside of society. Any science commenting on issues of gender in society will be affected by the same issues. It is not value free. This is particularly true for unsettled and social/behavioural science and i include things like neurophysiology.

It's like marking your own homework.

You cannot hold it up as 'fact' in the way you are without also appreciating the societal context in which the author did the study, and the unconscious bias of the scientist themselves.


7
Coel Hellier - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to MG:

> Is it clear exactly what form this memo took?

We're told that Google run a number of email lists to discuss various topics (and that employees can opt in or out of such lists as they wish). The memo was then sent to one of these email lists, and was on-topic for that list.

It's worth emphasizing that companies like Google -- which are very much about cutting-edge technology and about keeping up with and anticipating trends -- want and encourage their employees to discuss all sorts of things as part of blue-sky thinking.

There was no violation on Google company policy in merely sending a memo on such matters to that email list, the problem was the particular views expressed. If the views had been in line with blank-slate ideology (that there are no differences at all on average between how women tend to think and how men tend to think) then there would have been no problem.
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to Irk the Purist:
I have no objection to any of that, aside from the "fact" that if we are going to go down that road then there is probably nothing can be labeled "fact".

But if all facts or science are to be contested, then contest them by having an open dialogue. You don't shut it down because you might not like the opposing view or because nothing can ever be proven as absolutely true.

It seems we are getting to a point where the only uncontestable truth is that someone's feelings have been hurt. And that is enough to have people sacked.

And so it comes back to the point, the original manifesto writer was trying to highlight exactly your point. That present efforts in ensuring diversity were seen as absolute and uncontestable, while they are actually subject to their own biases. For that, he has lost his job.
Post edited at 17:45
planetmarshall on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> It's a sad day when stating fact (the earth is not flat, it is not the center of the solar system, the planet is warming, men are proportionally more likely to commit crime and be violent than women, etc etc.) is considered a bad thing - simply because we don't like the sound of it.

It's important to be able to freely state facts, or observations backed up by scientific evidence. It's also important, especially in the workplace, to be aware of the consequences of your actions and how you might affect the people you work with.

I work with many people who openly wear symbols of religious observance. Despite the fact that I am an atheist, I have not decided to circulate an email stating that religious belief is nonsense and that, on average, there is a high probability of a given terrorist incident in the UK being committed by an Islamic fundamentalist. Nor have I decided to mention in passing to my black colleagues that there is a disproportionate number of black people in prisons.

I work with a number of female software engineers, all of whom are extremely competent. It seems to me spectacularly obvious that circulating a memo stating that women are, on average, statistically more likely to be neurotic and susceptible to stress, is not going to make for a pleasant working environment and has the strong possibility of making them feel uncomfortable working with, or under me. If the author did not grasp this, maybe he should spend some time trying to acquire some of those 'soft skills' he doesn't seem to value.

9
RomTheBear on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:
> In this case, and if you had read the links, "contrary to what detractors would have you believe, women are, on average, higher in neuroticism and agreeableness, and lower in stress tolerance.", see (as referenced) link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-3-319-09384-0_11

Except this paper does not say this at all. Duh.

> Now you might not like that this is what the science tells us, but science isn't "inappropriate" or "unprofessional". It is the nearest thing to "fact" that we can get and you are better off listening to it rather than closing your ears. The messenger is no more at fault than the science.

Yep, except his memo his full of innacuries, selection bias, and links to pseudo-science.
Post edited at 17:54
6
planetmarshall on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Just supposing a female employee stated that men are far more likely to commit violent crime or sexual assault than women -- which is very true and borne out by all the evidence (sorry men, but it really is!) -- would you then think it reasonable for men to refuse to work with her? Would you think it reasonable for men to take time off work as a consequence because they "are hurting" and upset? Would you suggest she be sacked?

If she circulated a memo stating this? It would be totally unprofessional, of course. I'd expect her to face disciplinary action, and yes I think many men in the office would be uncomfortable working with her, and rightly so.

Sacked? It would depend on the company's specific guidelines. The author of the memo was sacked because his assertions contravened Google's code of conduct - they were specifically in reference to women working in software.

7
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> Excecpt this paper does not say this at all.

Probably because it's only a chapter abstract/citation. Can you maybe copy and paste the bits you think are inaccurate?

> Yep, except his memo his full of innacuries, selection bias, and links to pseudo-science.

...please go in to more detail.
Irk the Purist - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

I would argue there is a spectrum from fact to belief and that all opinions/ideas lie somewhere along it. Obviously some are very close to one end or the other and are uninteresting. The ones in the middle cause arguments.

What the author appears to have done is point out that Google has an ideology, but been blissfully unaware that he may be interpreting the science in his own. That he claims that 95% of social science is left leaning is pretty illuminating in itself. What he means is, I don't agree with them.

His argument was one of values, attempting to dress it up as scientific, as though it was as clear as the earth is an oblate spheroid. The values he chose to express were, in my opinion and that of his employer, unsavoury.

So he was sacked.

What is inevitable is that he is now being held up as some kind of martyr to political correctness.



Coel Hellier - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

> If the author did not grasp this, maybe he should spend some time trying to acquire some of those 'soft skills' he doesn't seem to value.

But he does value soft skills! That's what his memo says. He's essentially saying, don't expect everyone to be equally good at everything, treat them as individuals.

His objection is to an ideology that expects exactly equal numbers of different groups to be represented in each task or skill.
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

In my previous work it was normal for it to be emphasised that whites, males and those from the developed world had privilege, advantage, were prone to crime, committed rape, so on and so forth.

I was lucky if I fulfilled one of those criteria. I don't like being told I'm likely to be a rapist, and likely to commit crime, etc. Doesn't make it wrong to be reminded if it is in the context of a discussion about exactly those topics.

In this case, the arguments about gender were used in context - so it is a million miles away from walking up to a black colleague and telling them they more likely to be in prison than me.

How can you possibly have a discussion about something if that discussion can be taken out of context and used against you?
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to Irk the Purist:

> That he claims that 95% of social science is left leaning is pretty illuminating in itself. What he means is, I don't agree with them.

While 95% might be an exageration, having majored in social sciences, I suspect he wouldn't be that far wrong.
The insinuation seems to be that he is somewhere on the right-side of the political spectrum. I suspect he isn't. He is actually giving a left-critique of leftism.


1
planetmarshall on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> I was lucky if I fulfilled one of those criteria. I don't like being told I'm likely to be a rapist, and likely to commit crime, etc. Doesn't make it wrong to be reminded if it is in the context of a discussion about exactly those topics.

> In this case, the arguments about gender were used in context - so it is a million miles away from walking up to a black colleague and telling them they more likely to be in prison than me.

Then why did you support your argument with this?

It's a sad day when stating fact (the earth is not flat, it is not the center of the solar system, the planet is warming, men are proportionally more likely to commit crime and be violent than women, etc etc.) is considered a bad thing - simply because we don't like the sound of it.

Which of those things is relevant to software engineering?
2
RomTheBear on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:
> Rather, the problem appears to be that his claims (average differences in genders) are possibly unfashionable, have therefore been taken at face value to be sexist and offensive, when in fact they appear to be supported by scientific evidence rather than contrary to it.

If he just stated that there are average differences between the genders and quoted the evidence, that would be fine.
The problem is that he infers from that that the differences between individuals can be explained in terms of the average difference between groups.
It's just a classic logical fallacy and very poor research (and "research" is probably too kind a word)
Post edited at 18:21
5
MG - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> Yep, except his memo his full of innacuries, selection bias, and links to pseudo-science.

So only "correct', "unbiased" memos are acceptable? How should this be judged in advance?

planetmarshall on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> Probably because it's only a chapter abstract/citation. Can you maybe copy and paste the bits you think are inaccurate?

... the Left tends to deny science concerning biological differences between people (e.g., IQ[8] and sex differences)... Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of humanities and social scientists learn left (about 95%), which creates enormous confirmation bias, changes what's being studied, and maintains myths like social constructionism and the gender wage gap[9]. Google's left leaning makes us blind to this bias and uncritical of its results, which we're using to justify highly politicized programs.

There's a logical hole in this reasoning that you could drive a truck through. 95% of social scientists lean Left. The Left tends to deny science concerning biological differences between people. So which science are they denying? The 5%?

1
RomTheBear on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to MG:

> So only "correct', "unbiased" memos are acceptable? How should this be judged in advance?

First by not making rookie mistakes such as quoting references from dubious sources that don't even support the point being made, and dwelling into obvious logical fallacies and poor reasoning.
4
MG - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

I'm not sure you're really getting the idea of email discussion lists. If being wrong or biased is sackable, there won't be much discussion!
RomTheBear on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to MG:
> I'm not sure you're really getting the idea of email discussion lists. If being wrong or biased is sackable, there won't be much discussion!

This clearly was a public memo in a professional environment. Not a discussion forum such as this one.
Personally I expect people at work to not make up stuff and fill memos with inaccuracies, especially if the content can create a bad work environment.
Post edited at 18:33
5
planetmarshall on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> ...please go in to more detail.

Yes, in a national aggregate, women have lower salaries than men for a variety of reasons. For the same work though, women get paid just as much as men. Considering women spend more money than men and that salary represents how much the employees sacrifices (e.g. more hours, stress, and danger), we really need to rethink our stereotypes around power.

This is not true, and I wonder why he has come to this conclusion. When corrected for the factors he cites, such as working hours and seniority, the most conservative estimates put Women on average about 5-7% less than men in the US (Source - United States Department of Labor)
2
MG - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

Assuming you are correct, do you not think pointing out innacurracies in the way you have is a better way forward than sacking people for being (possibly) wrong?
RomTheBear on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to MG:
> Assuming you are correct, do you not think pointing out innacurracies in the way you have is a better way forward than sacking people for being (possibly) wrong?

In this case the poor guy sent out a pseudo scientific nonsense memo, showing that he is not exactly the sharpest tool in the box, and on top of that ended up embarrassing his employer and possibly contributed to a toxic work environment.

I mean, what else do you need to get sacked ? Seems to me he f*cked up massively and got the sack. It happens.

I'd completely agree that he should be free to say all the nonsense he wants outside of work, but at work, when it can possibly implicate your employer, do at your own risks.
Post edited at 18:52
8
planetmarshall on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to MG:

> Assuming you are correct, do you not think pointing out innacurracies in the way you have is a better way forward than sacking people for being (possibly) wrong?

All other things being equal, yes. If someone is wrong it should be possible to demonstrate why without throwing one's toys out of the pram. Equally we should all be willing to change our opinions in the face of evidence if we're intellectually honest.

However, I think in the working environment there are additional factors to consider beyond just being right or statistically accurate. When we sign up to do a job we agree to abide by that company's code of conduct, which presumably includes not making things difficult for your coworkers.
4
MG - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

He sent it to an email list specifically for such stuff. Others published it
RomTheBear on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to MG:
> He sent it to an email list specifically for such stuff. Others published it

I'm not sure how that is supposed to make a difference, if I posted sexist crap on the company's internal social network, I'd probably expect consequences.
Post edited at 18:56
7
Coel Hellier - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to Irk the Purist:
> That he claims that 95% of social science is left leaning is pretty illuminating in itself. What he means is, I don't agree with them.

Well here is some actual data of how social scientists describe *themselves*. 89.3% left of centre, 8.3% centrist, 2.5% right of centre. Of the left-of-centre, 16% chose the furthest left possible on an 11-point scale. See the plot here:

http://quillette.com/2017/07/06/social-sciences-undergoing-purity-spiral/
Post edited at 19:07
Dauphin on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to davidbeynon:

"trouble"

D
Coel Hellier - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> If he just stated that there are average differences between the genders and quoted the evidence, that would be fine.

That's more or less what he did, and it was far from "fine".

> The problem is that he infers from that that the differences between individuals can be explained in terms of the average difference between groups.

Really? Where in the memo does he do that?
Coel Hellier - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

> There's a logical hole in this reasoning that you could drive a truck through. 95% of social scientists lean Left. The Left tends to deny science concerning biological differences between people. So which science are they denying? The 5%?

Yes!
Coel Hellier - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> First by not making rookie mistakes such as quoting references from dubious sources that don't even support the point being made, and dwelling into obvious logical fallacies and poor reasoning.

A professor of social psychology at Rutgers University has said:

"The author of the Google essay on issues related to diversity gets nearly all of the science and its implications exactly right."

Another professor at the University of New Mexico, with a long track record in the field, says:

"For what it’s worth, I think that almost all of the Google memo’s empirical claims are scientifically accurate. [...] Its key claims about sex differences are especially well-supported by large volumes of research across species, cultures, and history."

I think your suggestion that the memo is scientifically poor is not as clear as you might want it to be.

http://quillette.com/2017/08/07/google-memo-four-scientists-respond/
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

> There's a logical hole in this reasoning that you could drive a truck through. 95% of social scientists lean Left. The Left tends to deny science concerning biological differences between people. So which science are they denying? The 5%?

It is possible for 100% of social scientists to "lean left" and for the left generally to deny science concerning biological differences between people you realise. The clue may also be in the word "social" in front of science.
Irk the Purist - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to Coel Hellier:

And of course, left and right and centre are terms that require a social context to understand and will vary from state to state and country to country.
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> First by not making rookie mistakes such as quoting references from dubious sources that don't even support the point being made, and dwelling into obvious logical fallacies and poor reasoning.

Come on, point to the specific "dubious sources", "obvious fallacies" and "poor reasoning".

And please state categorically whether or not you think he should be sacked.
Irk the Purist - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to Coel Hellier:

You know I could find scientists who agree with creationism too?

1
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> This clearly was a public memo in a professional environment. Not a discussion forum such as this one.

How was internal discussion "public"? It may have been, and that would be fitting for Google. But there is no evidence to indicate that and it would appear the opposite was the case.

> Personally I expect people at work to not make up stuff and fill memos with inaccuracies, especially if the content can create a bad work environment.

Again, point to the bit that were made up. At the moment you are doing nothing more than throwing around accusations.
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

> This is not true, and I wonder why he has come to this conclusion. When corrected for the factors he cites, such as working hours and seniority, the most conservative estimates put Women on average about 5-7% less than men in the US (Source - United States Department of Labor)

Actually, it is very much disputed. There is a huge difference between comparing median salaries of men and women across the population and comparing those in like-for-like roles, factoring in retirement ages, time taken out for childcare, switching to part-time work, switching careers.

Nothing I've read provides a definitive answer, but the common “women make 78 cents to the dollar” claim, as backed by United States Department of Labor, is bordering on myth and irrelevant if you are talking about salaries of software engineers at Google. It simply doesn't apply. I've seen claims ranging from 83% up to university graduate women now earning more than men.

What you need to look at is what similarly qualified and experienced female software engineers at Google earn in relation to their colleagues.
planetmarshall on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> A professor of social psychology at Rutgers University has said:

> "The author of the Google essay on issues related to diversity gets nearly all of the science and its implications exactly right."

He also said this -

The policies and atmosphere systematically ignore biological, cognitive, educational, and social science research on the nature and sources of individual and group differences. I cannot speak to the atmosphere at Google, but: 1. Give that the author gets everything else right, I am pretty confident he is right about that too;

He may be a scientist, but that doesn't mean everything he says is scientific. The second response from Schmitt was much more sensible.

Schmitt says -

....But it is not clear to me how such sex differences are relevant to the Google workplace. And even if sex differences in negative emotionality were relevant to occupational performance (e.g., not being able to handle stressful assignments), the size of these negative emotion sex differences is not very large (typically, ranging between “small” to “moderate” in statistical effect size terminology; accounting for less than 10% of the variance). So, using someone’s biological sex to essentialize an entire group of people’s personality would be like operating with an axe. Not precise enough to do much good, probably will cause a lot of harm. Moreover, men are more emotional than women in certain ways, too. Sex differences in emotion depend on the type of emotion, how it is measured, where it is expressed, when it is expressed, and lots of other contextual factors.

Which seems to directly contradict the Reutgers scientist. Incidentally, Schmitt's response was the only one not to be quoted by Breitbart, and also does not feature prominently in this thread.
Post edited at 19:52
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> In this case the poor guy

Yeah, poor guy. Just lost his job in the space of 4 days because of hurt feelings.

> pseudo scientific nonsense

And what then are your viewpoints of the scientists who say the conclusions he draws are broadly accurate based on the science?

For a software engineer, who appears to have a background in physical sciences, he has done a pretty good job of interpretting social science research in support of his case if qualified social scientists are saying "yep, you got that right, mate". Maybe not perfect, but seems to be doing a hell of a lot better than his detractors are.

> he is not exactly the sharpest tool in the box, and on top of that ended up embarrassing his employer and possibly contributed to a toxic work environment.

They have embarrassed themselves. Equally, those who claim "he isn't the sharpest tool in the box" and accuse him of being sexist because they don't like what they here are probably the ones creating toxicity.

> I mean, what else do you need to get sacked ? Seems to me he f*cked up massively and got the sack. It happens.

I certainly wouldn't have thought drawing on scientific evidence would get you sacked, but there we go. Apparently, all someone needs to do is claim to "be hurt" and that is sufficient.
planetmarshall on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> Nothing I've read provides a definitive answer, but the common “women make 78 cents to the dollar” claim, as backed by United States Department of Labor, is bordering on myth and irrelevant if you are talking about salaries of software engineers at Google. It simply doesn't apply. I've seen claims ranging from 83% up to university graduate women now earning more than men.

This is something of a strawman, as this was not the study I was referring to (as is apparent from the figures I quoted). The claim you are referring to (78%) is *not* backed by the US Department of Labor. Those are the raw figures before correcting for the factors you state, among others. The original report can be read here - https://web.archive.org/web/20131008051216/http://www.consad.com/content/reports/Gender%20Wage%20Gap...

planetmarshall on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> It is possible for 100% of social scientists to "lean left" and for the left generally to deny science concerning biological differences between people you realise. The clue may also be in the word "social" in front of science.

It's rather convenient for you to discount social science as 'proper' science when it doesn't support your argument, when you were perfectly happy to accept, and quote, the viewpoint of Lee Jussim, Professor of social psychology at Rutgers University, when it did.
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

> The second response from Schmitt was much more sensible.

Because you happen to agree with him and not the other three? ;-)

> Schmitt says -

He gave a nuanced case. He is hardly stating categorically, like you and Rom are doing, that the author got it completely wrong, used pseudo-science, and nonsense. Instead, he gives what sounds like a normal counter argument as would be common in academic discussion. It's refreshing....as its a million miles from saying "sack him because I don't like his viewpoint".

> Which seems to directly contradict the Reutgers scientist.

The point of the link was showing the views of four scientists from varied fields. None of it is contradictory, but merely lends different levels of support to the claims, ranging from "not likely to be a factor" to "very likely to be a factor" depending on their areas of focus.

That is a far cry from any one of them, let alone all of them, saying the author was completely or even somewhat misguided.
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:
> It's rather convenient for you to discount social science as 'proper' science when it doesn't support your argument, when you were perfectly happy to accept, and quote, the viewpoint of Lee Jussim, Professor of social psychology at Rutgers University, when it did.

I don't think I am discounting social science. Both my UG and PG degrees are in social sciences and I am posting here the views of physical and social scientists who are supporting the author.

But having sat through a myriad of lectures, seminars and workshops in gender studies and sociology, I can happily say I do think a lot of it is weakly substantiated bollocks. I struggle to make the same criticism of four scientists linked to here.

If you can though, then I'm all ears as I would really like to know where, in their support (or muted lack of support in one case) they got it wrong.
Post edited at 20:15
planetmarshall on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> Because you happen to agree with him and not the other three? ;-)

In part, probably. But also because he argued his case without making unsupported assumptions and loaded language.

> He gave a nuanced case. He is hardly stating categorically, like you and Rom are doing, that the author got it completely wrong, used pseudo-science, and nonsense. Instead, he gives what sounds like a normal counter argument as would be common in academic discussion. It's refreshing....as its a million miles from saying "sack him because I don't like his viewpoint".

But why are you continually insisting that he was sacked for his viewpoint? You've already quoted his employer who stated that that was not the case. This was not an academic environment - it's a workplace, with a code of conduct. He as sacked for contravening it.

2
Coel Hellier - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

> Schmitt says -

> ... So, using someone’s biological sex to essentialize an entire group of people’s personality would be like operating with an axe. ...

But then nothing in the memo did that!

And yes, the memo discussed a lot that wasn't directly relevant to working at Google, but that's because it was addressing the wider issue of whether one would expect men and women to be equally represented in every role if there were genuine equality of opportunity.
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:
An academic environment, such as a university, think-tank, or research facility is a workplace. Google, I would have long considered to also fall into that category. They all have codes of conduct, and it should be perfectly possible in all of them to state opinions such as his, if backed up by evidence, even for people to not agree with them. And everyone to tolerate those opinions and to still work together happily. Unless of course you decide that diversity of opinion cannot be tolerated.

Unfortunately, as I've posted here before, I have seen in universities a rapid decline in the tolerance of contrary viewpoints and a rise in "echo-chamberism". Anyone can claim offense, and offense is enough to shut down conversation...despite how subjective offense may be. I had hoped Silicon Valley was insulating itself from this, but it appears not.

In this case, the employee stated a viewpoint. At the very least, even if it were somehow not "correct", it still had "validity" in that it is strongly supported by available, peer-reviewed, research. But that viewpoint, despite its validity, got him sacked because people take offense to a valid viewpoint.

When validity takes a back-seat to personal feelings, or social media storms, I'm not sure that is a good place to be
Post edited at 20:35
planetmarshall on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:
> If you can though, then I'm all ears as I would really like to know where, in their support (or muted lack of support in one case) they got it wrong.

Lee Jussim is a professor of social psychology at Rutgers University...

I cannot speak to the atmosphere at Google, but: 1. Give that the author gets everything else right, I am pretty confident he is right about that too

This is an assumption. He doesn't know the author, and he doesn't know anything about the atmosphere at Google (which he admits), yet he can speak with confidence that the author got it right?

In 2017, the most common slurs involve labelling anyone who you disagree with on issues such as affirmative action, diversity, gaps, and inequality as a racist, sexist, homophobe, or bigot.

He's not necessarily wrong here, but these are all slurs visited by the Left on the Right. None in the other direction. Because the Right are always reasonable? Or because he has a Right wing bias? Since we know the former is not true, I think the latter is more likely, which leads me to doubt that he is being entirely scientific in his criticism. Perhaps a reaction against the previously observed political dominance in Sociology? Anyway, I'm speculating.

David P Schmitt

I have no criticism of Schmitt's use of language.

Geoffrey Miller

He seems very keen to point out that the memo's arguments are 'evidence based'. And are stated 'quite carefully and dispassionately.' By contrast, its opponents lack the necessary expertise to criticise it. In particular, Google's VP of Diversity is singled out for criticism -

Even Google’s new ‘VP of Diversity’, Danielle Brown, criticized the memo because it ‘advanced incorrect assumptions about gender’; I was impressed to see that her Michigan State B.A. in Business and her U. Michigan M.B.A. qualify her to judge the scientific research.

Apparently a software engineer can read enough about evolutionary psychology to write a memo that would 'get at least an A- in any masters’ level psychology course.', but an MBA can't read enough to criticise it? This is classic ad hominem, he criticises her apparent expertise instead of tackling her criticism directly. Isn't this exactly the kind of behaviour he was congratulating the memo writer for exposing?

Not content with the ad hominem, he follows it up with an appeal to authority. With himself as the authority.

His language is loaded and lacks any of the nuance of Schmitt, opinion dressed up as science. It's scientific and evidence based because he happens to agree with it.

Debra Soh

She didn't find the memo sexist. Oh well, that's ok then. I mean, some of my best friends are female software engineers.
Post edited at 21:00
1
wbo - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin: how ironic that new conservatives and the alt-right are the new 'special snowflakes'. How oppressed they are!

5
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to wbo:

Hmm, are you claiming the memo writer is alt-right or a neo-conservative?
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

> Lee Jussim is a professor of social psychology at Rutgers University...

> "I cannot speak to the atmosphere at Google, but: 1. Give that the author gets everything else right, I am pretty confident he is right about that too"
> This is an assumption. He doesn't know the author, and he doesn't know anything about the atmosphere at Google (which he admits), yet he can speak with confidence that the author got it right?

Well, to be fair, plenty of people here are making all kinds of assumptions about Google, the author and Google's internal comms procedures too. Given he's been asked to make an opinion on the author, at least he is stating his lack of knowledge.

> He's not necessarily wrong here, but these are all slurs visited by the Left on the Right. None in the other direction.

I disagree. I consider myself left-of-center. The left uses those slurs against anyone who presents a view opposing their own, regardless of where that person lies on the political spectrum.

We can't say for sure, but it is quite likely the author is not right-wing himself. This is something that the left fails to appreciate; the degree to which it alienates those also on the left, who happen not to agree with its views, by claiming they are right wing. Not to say the right isn't also guilty of this.

As I said before, in my view he is providing a left-critique of the left. I find the left to be increasingly oppressive, self-consuming, are prone to acts of bigotry against those it doesn't agree with. As with the right, the left has a long and well documented history of exactly this - and of purging those on the left who it finds to be insufficiently increasingly left. In his case, he is pointing out how policies that seek to ensure diversity are creating a lack of diversity. It is a view I agree with and one I believe shouldn't be classed as right-wing bias.

> Geoffrey Miller

> In particular, Google's VP of Diversity is singled out for criticism -

Fair to a degree. But also a fair statement on his part. Does a "Vice President of Diversity"'s MBA qualify her to judge scientific research?

> Apparently a software engineer can read enough about evolutionary psychology to write a memo that would 'get at least an A- in any masters’ level psychology course.', but an MBA can't read enough to criticise it? This is classic ad hominem,

The software engineer appears to have an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology, Physics and Chemistry, and a Masters in Systems Biology from Harvard. While it may be a bit below the belt, assuming one is better able to understand scientific literature is maybe not inacurate and I don't think the odd off-the-cuff remark damns the entire thesis.

It can't help but feel you are holding these experts to an extremely high standard (they cannot allow any emotion to enter their comments, even when they are being asked to defend areas of expertise that others have chosen to completely disregard). All the while those directly instrumental in the software engineers sacking, refuse to cite any scientific evidence whatsoever, or use nothing other than emotion or backlash to justify their position. This almost reflects the very problem the left is being blamed for in the first place.

> Not content with the ad hominem (ironic given Jussim's comments above), he follows it up with an appeal to authority. With himself as the authority.

Unfortunately, the original link appears to be down (apparently suffered an earlier DOS attack, presumably because some also didn't like what the four scientists were saying) so I can't really comment. But surely he is somewhat of an authority on these issues?

> She didn't find the memo sexist. Oh well, that's ok then. I mean, some of my best friends are female software engineers.

No, she didn't. But again, she seems to have unique qualifications that support the memo author's viewpoints. You seem somewhat disparaging of her because of that.

planetmarshall on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> We can't say for sure, but it is quite likely the author is not right-wing himself. This is something that the left fails to appreciate; the degree to which it alienates those also on the left, who happen not to agree with its views, by claiming they are right wing. Not to say the right isn't also guilty of this.

Well that's the point. The criticism is politically unbalanced, yet claims to be scientific. I find this to be disingenuous.

> Fair to a degree. But also a fair statement on his part. Does a "Vice President of Diversity"'s MBA qualify her to judge scientific research?

Perhaps not, but her LinkedIn profile suggests a 20 year long career in Silicon Valley with, amongst others, Intel and TAP Pharmaceuticals. It seems petty to suggest that she couldn't have read a few books in that time.


> It can't help but feel you are holding these experts to an extremely high standard (they cannot allow any emotion to enter their comments, even when they are being asked to defend areas of expertise that others have chosen to completely disregard).

Well, you did ask.

> Unfortunately, the original link appears to be down (apparently suffered an earlier DOS attack, presumably because some also didn't like what the four scientists were saying) so I can't really comment. But surely he is somewhat of an authority on these issues?

No doubt, but it smacks of academic hubris and comes across, at least to me, as somewhat condescending. His introduction should be sufficient, it's not necessary to then mention how many PhDs you've supervised.

> No, she didn't. But again, she seems to have unique qualifications that support the memo author's viewpoints. You seem somewhat disparaging of her because of that.

Mostly because it's anecdotal, and I don't think her contribution adds anything to the debate.

3
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

Regardless of which scientist is correct, I'm not of the Brexiteering "sick of experts" ilk. And frankly, as much of the research is well and truly out of my area of knowledge I'm willing to defer to the balance of opinion from those who study biological differences in humans. So, I'm taking the comments of these experts at face value and they seem more or less solid in their defense of the author.

But even if they weren't, there is an underlying point here:

There is something very Animal Farm, "4 legs good, 2 legs better", in a situation where an employee challenges a diversity policy, because they believe it does not actually safeguard reasonable diversity. And their employer's reaction is to fire them for doing so, because the way they articulated that opinion (or the opinion itself) is not deemed to be within the allowable scope of opinion and they have therefore said something they are not allowed to say.

Of course, if they had said all women should be shot, or even that women should not be employed, there would probably be fair grounds for that. But what they actually wrote was so far removed from that sort of viewpoint.
wbo - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:
That's my understanding from the US media. Certainly not left wing, even by US standards
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to wbo:

Do you have any links?
RomTheBear on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> Yeah, poor guy. Just lost his job in the space of 4 days because of hurt feelings.

No he's lost his job because he's a toxic incompetent asshole.

> And what then are your viewpoints of the scientists who say the conclusions he draws are broadly accurate based on the science?

Because you found a handful of "scientists" on the internet who agree with him doesn't mean he's right.

>

> For a software engineer, who appears to have a background in physical sciences, he has done a pretty good job of interpretting social science research in support of his case if qualified social scientists are saying "yep, you got that right, mate". Maybe not perfect, but seems to be doing a hell of a lot better than his detractors are.



> They have embarrassed themselves. Equally, those who claim "he isn't the sharpest tool in the box" and accuse him of being sexist because they don't like what they here are probably the ones creating toxicity.

No, I'm saying he is sexist because the memo simply makes up pseudo science to explain to us why men are better than women. It's not the first time really.

> I certainly wouldn't have thought drawing on scientific evidence would get you sacked, but there we go. Apparently, all someone needs to do is claim to "be hurt" and that is sufficient.

He didn't draw on any scientific evidence. Have you even looked and read the memo ? It's a total joke, a long series of logical fallacies, assumptions, simply made up "facts", and misrepresents the findings of the very few references he includes.
12
wintertree - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> And what then are your viewpoints of the scientists who say the conclusions he draws are broadly accurate based on the science?

That they're not scientists and that this stuff is most emphatically not science?...

2
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> No he's lost his job because he's a toxic incompetent asshole.
Wow. You really are quite bigoted and extreme yourself. Although I doubt you would ever see it.

> Because you found a handful of "scientists" on the internet who agree with him doesn't mean he's right.
Make my job easier and find me some experts in this field who are refuting his claims.

> No, I'm saying he is sexist because the memo simply makes up pseudo science to explain to us why men are better than women. It's not the first time really.
No, he says women are "different" from men, not that they are "better". But feel free to read in to it what you like.

> He didn't draw on any scientific evidence. Have you even looked and read the memo ? It's a total joke, a long series of logical fallacies, assumptions, simply made up "facts", and misrepresents the findings of the very few references he includes.
Yes, you said that before. Kindly point to specifics.
RomTheBear on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> How was internal discussion "public"? It may have been, and that would be fitting for Google. But there is no evidence to indicate that and it would appear the opposite was the case.

Public, as in public within google.

> Again, point to the bit that were made up. At the moment you are doing nothing more than throwing around accusations.

you can pretty much take every claim he makes, and verify yourself that the papers or random Wikipedia articles he references simply do not corroborate what he says.
7
RomTheBear on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:
> Wow. You really are quite bigoted and extreme yourself. Although I doubt you would ever see it.

> Make my job easier and find me some experts in this field who are refuting his claims.

> No, he says women are "different" from men, not that they are "better". But feel free to read in to it what you like.

> Yes, you said that before. Kindly point to specifics.

I've already done so. He makes conclusions based on aggregate differences of certain characteristics, and then makes conclusion that somehow it explains unrelated differences at another level of aggregation without any evidence to back it up.
Almost every point he makes is like that, it's just idiotic.

And some of the time, it's just simply plain wrong.
Post edited at 23:33
7
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> Mm, almost all of them ?
> I've already done so. He makes conclusions based on aggregate differences of certain characteristics, and then makes conclusion that somehow it explains unrelated differences at another level of aggregation without any evidence to back it up.
Almost every point he makes is like that, it's just idiotic.

Oh, good lord. You are trying to do this aren't you?
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:
> No he's lost his job because he's a toxic incompetent asshole.

Here's a video interview with the "arsehole".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEDuVF7kiPU&feature=youtu.be

Makes very interesting listening and plenty more links in the description on supporting evidence.
Post edited at 23:52
RomTheBear on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:
> Almost every point he makes is like that, it's just idiotic.

> Oh, good lord. You are trying to do this aren't you?

Just read the bloody thing ffs, I'm not going to copy paste the whole thing.

Ok, a couple of examples, because I'm nice:

"Women, on average, have more:
? Openness directed towards feelings and aesthetics rather than ideas. Women generally
also have a stronger interest in people rather than things, relative to men (also
interpreted as empathizing vs. systemizing).
? These two differences in part explain why women relatively prefer jobs in social
or artistic areas. More men may like coding because it requires systemizing and even
within SWEs, comparatively more women work on front end, which deals with both
people and aesthetics."

- There is no evidence that women, on average, have more "Openness directed towards feelings and aesthetics rather than ideas"
- There is no evidence that women prefer jobs in in social or artistic areas
- There is no evidence that "More men may like coding because it requires systemizing ",
- There is no explanation or eveidence as to why those supposed difference woudl explain why "comparatively more women work on front end, which deals with both people and aesthetics."

And to put the nail in the coffin, you don't have to be a genius to realise that you can take aggregate differences and then explain difference between individuals with them anyway, so even if the "facts" he enumerates, which he has no evidence for, were correct, the conclusions are no more than the result of a logical fallacy.

And what's his reference ? Wikipedia.... really ? And the Wikipedia article doesn't even corroborate his claims anyway...

Come on, it's just ridiculous. And that's just one bullet point. I could do the same with each of them.
Post edited at 23:56
5
David Martin - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

I'm lost. What have you posted that refutes Damore's points? What is "the thing"?
1
RomTheBear on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> I'm lost. What have you posted that refutes Damore's points? What is "the thing"?

The memo. Have you even read it ? it seems not.
6
RawPowa! - on 10 Aug 2017
What I find crazy about Googles attempts to create a "diverse" employee base is that most graduates of the top US Universities in comp sci and other stem courses are men. Harvard female graduates make up around 25% of graduates, so 3 men graduate for every woman. How can you get parity between male and female employees with a situation like that? You can't so they're going to keep chasing their tale and blaming it on unconscious biases when there just aren't as many qualified women.

The other issue they have is that women will always leave in greater numbers when they have kids. Apparently Google solved this by having a very generous maternity leave program which kept first time mothers, but I imagine they mostly left after they'd had all their children. Women also don't want to work long hours as managers, they want to work part-time more so they can spend time with their kids. So you're going to get more attrition in older women.

http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2016/2/22/computer-science-department-gender-gap/
https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-gender-ratio-for-each-of-the-majors-at-MIT
1
David Martin - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

Thank-you. When you say "a couple of examples", I assume you will go on to refute the rest of what you don't agree with? This paragraph you grabbed was low-hanging fruit in relation to the entire memo. I hope you aren't simply declaring the memo invalid based on this one example?

> - There is no evidence that women, on average, have more "Openness directed towards feelings and aesthetics rather than ideas"
> - There is no evidence that women prefer jobs in in social or artistic areas
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/38061313_Men_and_Things_Women_and_People_A_Meta-Analysis_of...
I get the impression it is an area that is high contested when discussed in terms of "all men/women". But that's not exactly what the author does when discussing the relative averages of two normal curves.
Moreover, it doesn't appear to be the case that the vast majority of evidence contradicts his viewpoint, certainly not as you say "there is NO evidence".

> - There is no evidence that "More men may like coding because it requires systemizing ",
Maybe. I don't know. Is there evidence to show that larger numbers of male coders is due to unfair hiring practices or corporate policies that discriminate against women? This seems to be the counter assumption.
Moreover, he is saying "may". Merely positing an idea. If you want to claim he is an arsehole, or basing this on no evidence, I'm not seeing that as the case.

> - There is no explanation or eveidence as to why those supposed difference woudl explain why "comparatively more women work on front end, which deals with both people and aesthetics."

If the empathizing and systemizing evidence is real then the bias for front-end work would, I think, be self-evident. From my own experience, as a systemizer I really don't enjoy front-end development while those that do have a different focus.

> And to put the nail in the coffin, you don't have to be a genius to realise that you can take aggregate difference and then explain difference between individual with them.
How is he doing the later?

> And what's his reference ? Wikipedia.... really ? And the Wikipedia article doesn't even corroborate his claims anyway...
I have no issue with that. Wikipedia is itself referenced, so easy enough to follow the trail.

> Come on, it's just ridiculous. And that's just one bullet point. I could do the same with each of them.
Please do.
2
RomTheBear on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:
> Thank-you. When you say "a couple of examples", I assume you will go on to refute the rest of what you don't agree with? This paragraph you grabbed was low-hanging fruit in relation to the entire memo. I hope you aren't simply declaring the memo invalid based on this one example?

You can demolish pretty much every paragraph the same way. nobody says everything he says is invalid, it's just full of rookie mistakes.


> I get the impression it is an area that is high contested when discussed in terms of "all men/women". But that's not exactly what the author does when discussing the relative averages of two normal curves.


He's discussing the relative average of two normal curves for all men/women and then makes unrelated conclusions about the gender gap in tech, with no proven link between the two.
It's no more than unproven assumptions.


> Moreover, it doesn't appear to be the case that the vast majority of evidence contradicts his viewpoint, certainly not as you say "there is NO evidence".

There is no evidence for the conclusion he's making.

> Maybe. I don't know. Is there evidence to show that larger numbers of male coders is due to unfair hiring practices or corporate policies that discriminate against women? This seems to be the counter assumption.

Exactly, "I don't know" is the right answer here.

> Moreover, he is saying "may". Merely positing an idea. If you want to claim he is an arsehole, or basing this on no evidence, I'm not seeing that as the case.
Yes, he is simply making assumptions.

> If the empathizing and systemizing evidence is real then the bias for front-end work would, I think, be self-evident. From my own experience, as a systemizer I really don't enjoy front-end development while those that do have a different focus.

Why do you think that's self-evident ? It certainly isn't, and anyway, he references no evidence to suggest it, he is just peddling the usual familiar tropes.

> How is he doing the later?

He's looking at average characteristic across two different groups (men and women) and then making conclusions from that, without the proper evidence for it, on other characteristic for different subgroups.

It's a bit as if I was saying "men are taller, on average, than women, therefore it explains why men at Google are paid more than women"

That's just bollocks with no evidence, although I can make it look "pseudo scientific" by showing studies that show that indeed men are in average taller, it doesn't allow you to make specific conclusions about anything else.


> I have no issue with that. Wikipedia is itself referenced, so easy enough to follow the trail.

You have no issue with vague referencing to entire Wikipedia pages, that link to studies that do not support his claims ? Really ?

> Please do.

No, I have better things to do, your turn to make an effort.
Post edited at 07:50
1
neilh - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to RawPowa!:

Oh FFS it's the same with Black computer scientists there is discrimination in Silicon Valley.

In the washington rust belt something like 20 % of software employees are black.

Yet in Silicon Valley it's about 1 % .

Big Ger - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to neilh:

> Oh FFS it's the same with Black computer scientists there is discrimination in Silicon Valley.

> In the washington rust belt something like 20 % of software employees are black.

> Yet in Silicon Valley it's about 1 % .

It's not about the figures, but the reasons why.
Coel Hellier - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> And to put the nail in the coffin, you don't have to be a genius to realise that you can [can't?] take aggregate differences and then explain difference between individuals with them anyway, ...

Can you give examples of him trying to do that?

edwardgrundy2 - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to neilh:

> Oh FFS it's the same with Black computer scientists there is discrimination in Silicon Valley. In the washington rust belt something like 20 % of software employees are black. Yet in Silicon Valley it's about 1 %.

For this point to stand, do you not need figures on the universities that the people working in the different areas you mention go to?

For example, if in silicon valley people go to unis where only 1% of STEM graduates are black, but the equivalent figure for the rust belt is 20%, then Raw's point would still make sense.

edwardgrundy2 - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> - There is no evidence that....

Do you mean there is no evidence for these things, or that the memo guy hasn't provided any evidence in his memo?

> And to put the nail in the coffin, you don't have to be a genius to realise that you *can't?* take aggregate differences and then explain difference between individuals with them anyway, so even if the "facts" he enumerates, which he has no evidence for, were correct, the conclusions are no more than the result of a logical fallacy.

I think you mean "can't" (have *corrected* in quote), and have misunderstood the memo guy. The memo guy is very clear that he's using average differences to explain why you get more men in certain areas - not that they can be used to explain differences between individuals. See the two graphs - one that shows over lapping distributions, one that just compares the average of each distribution. He says the latter is wrong.

Also, generally his over all conclusion is that biological differences *may* explain *some* of the differential rates of employment between men and women.

edwardgrundy2 - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:
> No he's lost his job because he's a toxic incompetent asshole. Because you found a handful of "scientists" on the internet who agree with him doesn't mean he's right. No, I'm saying he is sexist because the memo simply makes up pseudo science to explain to us why men are better than women. It's not the first time really. He didn't draw on any scientific evidence. Have you even looked and read the memo ? It's a total joke, a long series of logical fallacies, assumptions, simply made up "facts", and misrepresents the findings of the very few references he includes.

This wasn't my reading of the memo at all. The logic seems pretty sound to me, the conclusions quite mild. He's also clearly not saying men are better than women. Simply that they are on average different in their abilities and preferences and that some of this is down to biology. And he calls for different approaches at work to make the work itself less bias towards male preferences and abilities - which seems a pretty progressive approach.

Obviously I don't know if the science he's basing his arguments on is sound - eg about women being more open etc. You seem to think it's clearly not correct, but unless your an expert in this area, I'm not sure how you can be so sure about this. Even if he does misinterpret or misrepresent the science, I'm not sure how you can judge his motives for doing so so surely?

This blogger guy [link below] certainly thinks there's a good argument for biological differences. He's a psychologist and part of the "rationalist community" [a name that he doesn't like]. One the main characteristics of this community is aimming for objective, honest argument - and he certainly does that. So he might be wrong, but he's defintiely familiar with the science, clever and trying his best to interpret it objectively. If you read his other work, it seems pretty clear he's no sexist either.

All this is to say, I know nothing about the google memo guy beyond reading his memo. But there's a clever, objective, non sexist, well informed guy that broadly agrees with the google memo. So, I think a slightly more reflective reading of the memo, before calling the author a disgusting male supremicist, might serve you well.

http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/08/07/contra-grant-on-exaggerated-differences/http://slatestarcodex.c...

Further discussion between blog author and guy he's responding to in the comments below worth reading too.
Post edited at 08:59
neilh - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:

Something like 40-50% of maths graduates these days are women. Most of these are more than capable of matching men in software.

You need to ask yourself why women are not attracted to a career n computers......usually its because of the idiots like this guy Danmore.

You only have to look round and see what is going on in the likes of Uber to see that there is an issue.

By the way my daughter just got a 1st in computer science.
4
David Martin - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to neilh:

> You need to ask yourself why women are not attracted to a career n computers......usually its because of the idiots like this guy Danmore.

Why the automatic assumption "it is because of idiots like Danmore"? It could just as easily be because its traditionally been the preserve of geeky, spotty, males, far from glamorous or attractive to either gender.

If coders were originally almost all female, asking why males progressively took over the role might be a better question. Perhaps it was simply never attractive to females in the first place, but seen as a "job for women" they were only too happy to get out of IT related fields when the opportunity arose.
David Martin - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to wbo:

> That's my understanding from the US media. Certainly not left wing, even by US standards

That's a bit of a claim. He describes himself as a classical-liberal and while probably somewhat conservative, he comes across pretty squarely in the centre of the political spectrum...certainly not "alt-right" or "neo-conservative".

Though the left's tendency to throw those extreme labels at people they disagree with was one of the points he was making.
Offwidth - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:

Bloody scientists just won't agree with each other.... maybe its a macho thing?

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/08/adam-grant-on-google-memo-differences-between-sexes-are-slim-to-none...
edwardgrundy2 - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

The blog I linked to is actually a response* to Adam Grant - the guy in the article you link to. The debate between the two goes on in the comments below. Having read both, I'm more persuaded by the Scott Alexander than Adam Grant, but I'm certainly not suggesting that Alexander's argument *proves* the google guy right.

If nothing else, it's a great example of how to argue reasonably. And, I think, a great example of how it's wrong to shout down anyone with views that might appeal to sexist people as being sexist themselves.

*sorry if you'd realised this already
Bob Hughes - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

I think this is a really interesting case precisely because it sits very much in a grey area - I think both Damore & Google were right but for different reasons, and they both carry some fault or blame.

To start with Damore, where i think he is right:
He is right - or at least there is nothing wrong - with raising Google's diversity policies as a topic for discussion
I have no idea about the science - it seems that reasonable people can disagree on it; at least as far as that is the case it seems reasonable to make the claims he is making
The reaction to his post was certainly over-reaction, I can see little excuse for having leaked it and it has certainly been mischaracterized in the press.

Where I think he is wrong is in having a tin ear for the current environment in Silicon Valley (which is odd since that is exactly what he is railing against) and therefore how his memo would play out. Basically, I think he was naive. When Google is facing a class action suit from 70 women over unequal pay, a leading VC has recently had to step down over accusations of asking women for sexual favours in return for him investing in their start-ups, when Travis Kalanick has taken a step back because of the frat-boy culture he developed at Uber - it is obvious that publishing a memo stating that women on average show more neuroticism or can't handle stress as well is going to create a shit-storm. Whether or not those things are true there are good ways to make his argument without needing to use an example like neuroticism wwhich plays so well into the stereotype. Its not that the topic is off-limits, it is that the topic is clearly sensitive and contraversial and so anyone addressing it - especially in a company-wide forum - would be well advised to do so with care.

Almost as an aside, i think you see his naivety in the interviews he gave as well. Giving a 45-minute interview to a couple of websites that can easily be characterised as alt-right when pretty much every paper, website and blogger wanted to interview him seems like playing to the choir.

Where I think Google is right is in sacking him, not because he committed a great trangression but because of the position they, and silicon valley find themselves in. They have no problem recruiting bright, white males. They do have problems recruiting anyone else (although it should be said that this does seem to be a tech thing more than a google thing - the male/female split for non-tech roles at Google is pretty much 50:50). They pretty much had to do something significant and newsworthy to avoid being characterised as another tech company which is run by the boys for the boys.

Where i think they got it wrong was in not taking seriously some of the valid comments he was making. If, at the same time as sacking him, they had launched a review of some of their diversity programs which could be described as discriminatory i think that would have shown more balance.

1
Bob Hughes - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to neilh:

> Something like 40-50% of maths graduates these days are women. Most of these are more than capable of matching men in software.

> You need to ask yourself why women are not attracted to a career n computers......usually its because of the idiots like this guy Danmore.

> You only have to look round and see what is going on in the likes of Uber to see that there is an issue.

Read the slatestarcodex link posted further up (iif you haven't already) - it is a very cogent review of the issues and it would seem it is more complex that this. Of course, Uber and in a much lesser way Damore certainly do not help but i am not sure that they are the cause.

edwardgrundy2 - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to neilh:

I thnk you're kind if replying to arguments that people aren't making.

1. The Danmore idiot isn't saying that men have better abilities for coding. He's saying men are more interested in it. He's also not saying that this exaplains all the difference in the men and women in tech - he's saying it's partly biological and it may explain some of the diffference. From this he argues for changes to how they work that are less bias towards men's preferences and abilities, and against aiming for equality of outcome.

2. Me and, as far as I can tell, Raw, aren't saying there's no problem with sexism in tech. Niether's the Danmore idiot as far as I can see.

3. I made the point that to refute Raw's point using the number of black people in tech, as you tried to do, you'd need to look at the number black people in stem at the universties from which these jobs recruit. This is because his point was that for women, this matched with recruitment. You've just kind of ignored that as far as I can see.

Also, this is a thread about a memo about why there are fewer women in tech, that's what we're discussing.... suggesting that we need to ask ourselves why there's more women in tech is a bit odd.. That's clear what we're all doing here!

Congrats to your daughter!
1
neilh - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

Tosh .

What happens is that the women with the right skills are selective about who they work for .that is why currently uber is having difficulties recruiting women. They do not want to work there.

There are a reasonable number of women working in software. It's just they work for companies who look after them and make sure they are not treated like idiots .
1
neilh - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to Bob Hughes:

The problem I have with people like dannmore is they play on this alt right libertarian philosophy and they believe there should be no laws. Try reading about the guy who set up Silk Road on the dark web to understand their perspective.
1
neilh - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:

Not read all your posts thoroughly.
Nevis-the-cat - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to Bob Hughes:
Good response and summary.

1) he was at best naive, at worst intentionally destructive

2) He makes some points that merit discussion, but then wraps them in a poorly structured and supported argument, which relies far too much on inherent assumptions, which themselves are open to challenge.

3) I would argue there is a lack of constructive engagement between political and social views in public and private bodies. This is self defeating, creates the social justice warrior and ironically, allows people to cry "PC gone mad" while the Alt Right to sneak in the back door unspotted because were fighting the fight in the wrong area.

4) By choosing to go onto an Alt Right Youtube channel instead of sitting down with say the Washington Post to offer up his argument, he has locked himself into the echo chamber he very much despises.
Post edited at 10:25
1
Mike Highbury - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to Nevis-the-cat:
> 4) By choosing to go onto an Alt Right Youtube channel instead of sitting down with say the Washington Post to offer up his argument, he has locked himself into the echo chamber he very much despises.

Which, sadly, doesn't give us the opportunity to see how well he, as an individual, handles stress.
edwardgrundy2 - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to neilh:

> The problem I have with people like dannmore is they play on this alt right libertarian philosophy and they believe there should be no laws. Try reading about the guy who set up Silk Road on the dark web to understand their perspective.

Does the Danmore idiot think there should be no laws? Or is he alt right?

A quick google suggests he's motivated by Jonathon Haidt's work, which is basically about trtying to get left and right to nderstand each other better, and to have arguments based on facts, logic etc. rather than campaigning, echo chamber type stuff. Beyond speaking to some alt right people I can't see anything to say he himself is alt right. That he likes Jonathon Haidt suggests he's not.
Nevis-the-cat - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:

This is where we need Dave H to return to UKC.

I think that's a good spot re Haidt. I also think he's tried to form a badly structured argument around his work.
bouldery bits - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

Rich dude gets sacked for being annoying.

Who cares?
2
RomTheBear on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:
> Do you mean there is no evidence for these things, or that the memo guy hasn't provided any evidence in his memo?

He's provided evidence for some (not all) of his statements about differences on the aggregate on some characteristics.
But he has no evidence for the conclusions he makes from it.

For example, he says that women on average displays higher levels of anxiety than men, this may be true, but it doesn't allow to conclude that this explains why women at google report higher levels of anxiety than men.


> I think you mean "can't" (have *corrected* in quote), and have misunderstood the memo guy. The memo guy is very clear that he's using average differences to explain why you get more men in certain areas - not that they can be used to explain differences between individuals. See the two graphs - one that shows over lapping distributions, one that just compares the average of each distribution. He says the latter is wrong.

Yes, which is odd, because then he goes on to make that very mistake.

> Also, generally his over all conclusion is that biological differences *may* explain *some* of the differential rates of employment between men and women.

Yes, and he has no evidence for that, hence why this is just a bunch of nonsense.
It's as if I was saying "men on average are taller than women hence it may explain different rates of employment between men and women".
Well no, in itself, without further evidence, it doesn't explain that difference.

You could argue he is careful in using the word "may" but then he goes on to gives policy recommendation based on these assumptions.

If he was a bit more honest he would say "this may explain the difference, but is also may not, hence the point is moot and I can't make any recommendations from that"
Post edited at 11:42
2
edwardgrundy2 - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to Nevis-the-cat:
I think his memo's pretty well structured and well argued. I write that kind of thing for a living, and if I'd written as clear and (IMO) well strucured and argued document as his, I'd be proud of it.

Other than naivity - which he's admitted to - the only potential issue I can see with it is if he has misinterpreted or misrepresented the science. As I've linked to above though, informed people think he's summarised the science accurately, and others think he hasn't. Personally I'm more persuaded by the arguments consistent with how he's summarised the science.

The one fault, in terms of both naivity and objectivity/completeness is that he might have spent more time looking into why the science sumarises might be wrong, and state clearly that it could be wrong and his arguments depend on it being correct. He could also give his, it would seem entirely reasonable view, that he's pretty sure it's correct.

Also, worth noting, apparently he sent his memo to a group called 'the secptics' at google, to have it critiqued. His question was basically: I think googles a bit of an echo chamber, here's my argument for this, is it really me that's in the echo chamber? [this is according to him, but I see no reason to disbelieve]
Post edited at 11:27
tom_in_edinburgh - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to neilh:
> Oh FFS it's the same with Black computer scientists there is discrimination in Silicon Valley.

> In the washington rust belt something like 20 % of software employees are black.

> Yet in Silicon Valley it's about 1 % .

I used to work for a silicon valley company. There were hardly any black employees BUT there were tons of Indian and Chinese employees. Probably more Chinese/Indian Americans than white Americans. If you go to most computer science conferences you will see hardly any black people but tons of Indians and Chinese as well as US and Europeans. There were significantly fewer women than men in the company I worked for, but if you look at graduating classes from Universities there are also significantly fewer women than men.

I don't think it is discrimination by tech companies, they are just reflecting the demographics of the people who want to do that kind of job. Same as when I used to walk into the Uni science campus in the morning: roughly equal numbers of males and females when you walked onto the campus but a lot more females turned left into Biology/Botany and a lot more males turned right into Engineering.

Is this really a problem: I'd love my own daughter to be an engineer like me and I give her every encouragement but she is far more interested in biology.
Post edited at 11:44
Bob Hughes - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> Is this really a problem: I'd love my own daughter to be an engineer like me and I give her every encouragement but she is far more interested in biology.

It may or may not be a problem at the level of society. I'm not convinced that we have got to the bottom of whether it is simply a question off preference or whether women are acctivelly put off workig in tech.

However, if you are Google and one of your biggest strategic challenges is recruiting enough talented engineers then finding a way to unlock access to 50% of the population - among who there may be some very talented potential software engineers is very definitely an important thing to do.
Coel Hellier - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> For example, he says that women on average displays higher levels of anxiety than men, this may be true, ...

OK so far ...

> but it doesn't allow to conclude that this explains why women at google report higher levels of anxiety than men.

But then he doesn't conclude "that this explains why"! He says "this may contribute to the higher levels of anxiety women report on Googlegeist".

"may" (Oxford Dictionary) = "expressing *possibility*
"contribute to" = it may be *part* of the explanation, which is not the same as saying "this explains why".

So you're misrepresenting what the memo says.
edwardgrundy2 - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:
I think your misunderstanding or deliberately misrepresenting the memo. My understanding of his argument is a follows:

1. there are differences in preferences and abilities and these are in part biological [this seems a reasonablee summary of the science, certainly informed and reasonable people agree, although others disagree].
2. these differences would be consistent with more men than women at google
3. these differences may* explain part of the actual differences proprotions of men and women in jobs that we see at google

For example, if A. women are on average more anxious for biological reasons, and B women at google report more anxiety on average. Then it seems reaonable to conclude that C. it's likely that A. partly explains B. This isn't saying that averages explain individual differences. It's saying that averages may partly explainother averages.

This seems entirely reasonable to me. That's just my judgement though. What it's certainly not is something that might be reasonably characterised as just a bunch of assumptions. It's also certainly not making the leap from averages to individuals that you suggest it is.

*he says "may", but taking the memo as a whole, he's really saying are likely to. Which seems a reasonable judgement to me if his summary of the science is correct.
Post edited at 12:00
edwardgrundy2 - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Beat me to it!
Jim C - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to MG:

> But he didn't. It was a internal memo others circulated publicly. I really can't see what is so objectionable about it anyway. He may be wrong but is suggesting male and female brains and preferences differ now considered something you can be sacked for? For google diversity is good as long as everyone agrees, it seems, which is odd really for a diversity policy.

Did they sack the leaker, who has actually committed the worst offence to his employer ?
Bob Hughes - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to Jim C:

> Did they sack the leaker, who has actually committed the worst offence to his employer ?

I dont think they know who it was.
David Martin - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to bouldery bits:

> Rich dude gets sacked for being annoying.
> Who cares?

Person with valid viewpoint that goes against the grain gets sacked for articulating it.
Sets dangerous for all employees, where rich, poor, annoying or not.
2
David Martin - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to Nevis-the-cat:

> 4) By choosing to go onto an Alt Right Youtube channel instead of sitting down with say the Washington Post to offer up his argument, he has locked himself into the echo chamber he very much despises.

Given the way he has been hung out to dry by the mainstream media, is this any surprise?

The Alt-Right is welcoming those who have been maligned by others. That is the reason for its success.
Jim C - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

Is this really a problem: I'd love my own daughter to be an engineer like me and I give her every encouragement but she is far more interested in biology.

I agree, people interested in biology are likely to go into Heath research, nursing , medical type jobs that we need , so that is fine, I'm not bothered what gender those people are as long as we have enough of them.

Similarly with Engineers, I'm only interested in getting enough Engineering graduates to contribute the the success of the country.

The only type of encouragement I want to see the government make, is to subsidise courses for the types of skills that the country needs ( or is projected to need) , if you want to study something outside what is required, then you can expect to pay full whack the privilege.
DubyaJamesDubya - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> I could imagine in some forms of employment, writing a reasoned document which argues that your anti-discrimination policies may actually be causing discrimination, might get you sacked.

> But I wouldn't have thought an organisation such as Google would be one of them. Nor that any Silicon Valley employer would be opposed to such internal discussion or dissent.

> EDIT: the only real embarrassment to befall his employer has been their knee-jerk response. They could very well face legal actions and are will likely have to scramble to create a justification for their actions.

But then you couldn't understand why anyone would have a problem with the n-word.
1
Jim C - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to Bob Hughes:
It would be interesting to find out if they ( Like Trump) launched an inquiry to find the leaker , and made it clear that this was gross misconduct ( or in the US case a criminal offence)?

If Google stifle free thinking and sharing of ideas internally, that will be a bad move, but of course being allowed to speak freely or to receive the views of your colleagues, does come with responsibilities, and there will be internal procedures ( of should be) that make it clear that they cannot just leak outside the organisation anything they don't agree with. If you do you should be the one to be sacked, not the person who shared their ideas in confidence.
Post edited at 12:24
Bob Hughes - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> Given the way he has been hung out to dry by the mainstream media, is this any surprise?

The New York Times has been pretty balanced - that would have been a good place to start. He probably would have been given a fair hearing at Vox, despite them being firmly in the leftie camp.

Anyway, he's now given quite a good interview to Bloomberg

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2017-08-10/fired-engineer-damore-i-feel-google-betrayed-me-vid...
Nevis-the-cat - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> Given the way he has been hung out to dry by the mainstream media, is this any surprise?


Yes, but no not really. He could engage and push the debate into the mainstream. He makes some fair points which do need to be debated and there are sober, mainstream broadsheets and media that would allow him to do that.

but he ran to the Alt Right and that is self defeating.


> The Alt-Right is welcoming those who have been maligned by others. That is the reason for its success.

Often they are maligned because they're talking bollocks. Just like plenty of people on the left talk bollocks and run to the SWP.

It's still bollocks.
1
Geras on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to wintertree:
Same here, it was pretty common for empolyers to have such clauses, even before Social Media. You can express your views, but expressing negative views relating to your employer, when you can be identified as an employee in public, will be grounds for dismissal. Irrespective of the validility, or coherence of the argument deployed. You can make your point within an organistaion, and if your view point is not supported, you are free to either live with it or leave. The only time that such behaviour results in a good outcome (and then its not certain), is if the company is doing something illegal, or morally repugnent.
Nevis-the-cat - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to Bob Hughes:

That was a more sensible interview. It is shame he did not do that first.

He does make some fair points. There is an inherent view in certain sectinos of the left that all c(C)onservatives are idiots/ evil /delete as applicable.

Equally, the right adopts the same view of "libtards" and progressives.

Both a zero sum games.

An echo chamber of whichever political persuasion is pointless. I've lost friends when I've called them out over lazy and nasty comments about the right. Equally, when I've called someone out for posting Pegida shit.

If his intention was to open a debate and try and break down a mono-culture, and address why there is an under representation at source then that is fair.

Where I think he went wrong was that he presented it from the wrong end of the telescope. Better to address why less women walk into the Tech labs at Uni , or how we teach tech in our schools.

In respect of Google,. they had an opportunity here to appear a sober and considered organisation and open up the debate. if he's wrong destroy his argument rather than lazily falling back into the campus speak which he called out.
David Martin - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to Geras:

> The only time that such behaviour results in a good outcome (and then its not certain), is if the company is doing something illegal, or morally repugnent.

Based on his interview, that is his claim. Google is enacting illegal policy apparently.
neilh - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

Except you have to look at the Washington belt way where a lot of companies employ black software engineers because they are encouraged to do so by the USA govt. those same companies are also at the cutting edge of cyber security and USA universities turn out a good few black software engineers .

In India about 5o% of computer scientists are women.

Above as reported in the guardian a couple of days ago.
neilh - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to Jim C:

I was talking to a female professor of computer science/ data management last week . Computer scientists who can talk to biologists are very rare and highly valued.so you never know!
RomTheBear on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:
> I think your misunderstanding or deliberately misrepresenting the memo. My understanding of his argument is a follows:

> 1. there are differences in preferences and abilities and these are in part biological [this seems a reasonablee summary of the science, certainly informed and reasonable people agree, although others disagree].

> 2. these differences would be consistent with more men than women at google

> 3. these differences may* explain part of the actual differences proprotions of men and women in jobs that we see at google

> For example, if A. women are on average more anxious for biological reasons, and B women at google report more anxiety on average. Then it seems reaonable to conclude that C. it's likely that A. partly explains B. This isn't saying that averages explain individual differences. It's saying that averages may partly explainother averages.

No it is not reasonable at all to conclude this. The fact that A correlates with B does not mean that A explains B.

Here is an experiment : take blue flower seeds, and red flowers seeds. Plant the blue ones in a pot with good soil, and the red ones with a pot with poor soil.
After a while, the blue flowers in good soil grow taller than the red flowers.

Would it be reasonable, for an external observer, who hasn't analysed the composition of the soil in each pot, to jump to conclusion and assume that it is likely that the color of the flower explains the differences in average sizes between the two pots ? Of course not.



> This seems entirely reasonable to me. That's just my judgement though. What it's certainly not is something that might be reasonably characterised as just a bunch of assumptions. It's also certainly not making the leap from averages to individuals that you suggest it is.

He does, from averages across the population to a non- representative subset.

> *he says "may", but taking the memo as a whole, he's really saying are likely to. Which seems a reasonable judgement to me if his summary of the science is correct.

No, it's entirely unreasonable, and illogical, plus easily proven false, a survey has been done across several companies including google, to analyse the psychological traits of employees across several companies.
In the case of google, they found no differences between men and women.

That illustrates quite well the fact that what is true on the aggregate is not necessarily true on a subset, and group average characteristics do not necessarily drive differences between groups.
Post edited at 13:38
2
Coel Hellier - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> a survey has been done ...

> In the case of google, they found no differences between men and women.

Cite?
Offwidth - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to Bob Hughes:
Not that great an interview. He still insists the science backs him up it when it simply doesn't. Gender differences from biology don't explain anything like the gaps we see in things like Silicon Valley tech employment or management unless you include (probably larger) influence from cultural issues. He is right that gender inbalance in US tech as a whole are not Googles fault, more the fault of the US society and education systems generating so few graduates, but Google are big enough to cream off the best, and in that from across the world where gender balances are better, not just US graduates. He is fair in my view that Google really let him down for what was clearly a genuine (if naive and ill informed) attempt to improve things using internal company systems. Yet then he berates Google for what amounts to reasonable action to increase gender representation for the sake of improving their buisness (anyone who thinks google will be employing stupid women in preference to bright men as he implies must be rather dumb themselves... the actions he describes are there to ensure they don't lose good women in a currently male dominated environment). He claims to be a centrist looking to join hands across politics but then ends up defending alt right (who frankly have a terrible reputation when it comes to fair commentary on science, or for that matter truth as a whole) and uses trite antagonistic arguments like the left accuse the right of being stupid which applies equally well the other way round and is a rhetoric caricature of a complex situation in which many alt right statements are just plain dumb in scientific terms. He seems to me to be an engineer stuck commentating in societal levels of social science and politics where he is completely out of his depth and now an inadvertant pawn.
Post edited at 13:47
Jimbo C - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

He wrote an essay about un-conscious bias and at the same time, didn't identify his own bias. This upset some people and got him sacked. I think it's a good essay, but it is still biased.

Having said that, even if he had written it without any bias, it would still have upset some people, but then the boss wouldn't have had the same reason (or excuse?) to sack him.

I agree that there are differences between males and females. That much is obvious, but it does not make one more capable than the other of doing a job, it just means they might approach the job differently. I think that what really prevents true equality are the stereotypes unconsciously ingrained in our culture that influence peoples' development and decisions from day one. To give an example, last night I saw two TV adverts back to back, one to persuade women that they need to use moisturiser and one to persuade men that only the shampoo labelled 'For Men' will work on their hair. I know this is quite far removed from the article in question, but I think it shows how ingrained and invisible the stereotypes are.
MG - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:


> Would it be reasonable, for an external observer, who hasn't analysed the composition of the soil in each pot, to jump to conclusion and assume that it is likely that the color of the flower explains the differences in average sizes between the two pots ? Of course not.

It would be quite reasonable to suggest it as a cause, yes. If the response was to sack the proposer, rather than investigate other possible causes, the true result may never be discovered.


> In the case of google, they found no differences between men and women.

Which would be expected surely? If there is no differences between men and women, it wouldn't appear. If there are differences across the whole population but google's selection process only chooses those with the traits they need for software engineering, it still wouldn't appear. Any test would need to be across the whole population.
Offwidth - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:
"Given the way he has been hung out to dry by the mainstream media, is this any surprise?"

Remind me who the biggest player is again in US mainsteam media in finance or viewing terms?. Why people swallow this dumb attack on liberal journalism as mainstream fake news pedlars and regard the likes of Breitbart with their readership and financial backing as plucky outlying truth tellers and not mainstream political spin merchants amazes me.... maybe that political compass you claim points left is slipping. When I first went to the US with my naive centrist British sensibilities (informed from Orwell through Python) I initially thought the first Fox news show I watched was a brilliant satire, now it leaves me in shock and depression. Bloomberg hardly eviscerated him and most of the major liberal press seem keen to interview him.... where he decided to go was his choice
Post edited at 14:12
Offwidth - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to MG:

Google recognised both that they had a problem and the potential future impacts of that on their business and built in improvements in their systems to ensure they were not losing talented women (that he complains about in that Bloomberg interview).
MG - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to Offwidth:
His complaint as I understood it was that it was easier for women to get a job in google than men. If his example is correct (second bite at an interview) this is true. I can well see why he might regard this as unfair - given two otherwise identical candidate, the woman will get the job. Quite possibly the woman would get the job even if less capable with this system.
Post edited at 14:12
Offwidth - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to MG:
So what? Affirmative action (taking the person from a minority group all other factors being equal, where severe under-representation is evident, to counter clear evidential bias in past recruitment) is a US system with a fine history that has proven very successful. There are also many more reasons it's a good idea for Goggle to improve levels of women in their tech sections for perfectly sensible business arguments over and above fairness. What happens when such affirmative action systems are blocked is also telling:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/04/affirmative-action-california-black-hispanic-students
Post edited at 14:23
MG - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

It's highly controversial (and in the UK illegal). In any case, whether he was right or wrong isn't (or shouldn't be) the issue. The question is whether the point is reasonable to raise, which it clearly is.
Offwidth - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to MG:

I fully agree his manifesto was a reasonable thing to raise even though I disagree with most of its content. UK legal positions are irrelevant (and ignorant... we could learn a lot from how the US closed such gaps so well).
MG - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

> I fully agree his manifesto was a reasonable thing to raise even though I disagree with most of its content.

Good, we agree then on that.
Offwidth - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to MG:

I'm sure we agree on a lot... forums exaggerate difference. There is a good TV show on Beeb Two currently showing the cognitive dissonance of Silicon Valley senior management's cultures. In the end despite all the fluffy world enhancing guff they are just as hard nosed as any big business... this poor man did what they ask internally, it became known outside and he lost his job (as ruthlessly as maybe if he was working for Trump) as a result.
Bob Hughes - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

> So what? Affirmative action (taking the person from a minority group all other factors being equal, where severe under-representation is evident, to counter clear evidential bias in past recruitment) is a US system with a fine history that has proven very successful. There are also many more reasons it's a good idea for Goggle to improve levels of women in their tech sections for perfectly sensible business arguments over and above fairness. What happens when such affirmative action systems are blocked is also telling:


Am i understanding that graph correctly? It looks like the % black and hispanic freshmen was steadily in decline before affirmative action was banned and then it picked up after the ban was put in place. Who was the affirmative action intended to help?
Oliver Houston - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

OK, I'm late to this party, but I've been through the document and looked at his "evidence";

Of a total of 33 "references", 22 are what I would consider opinion pieces. I think Wikipedia is his largest source, closely followed by The Atlantic and New York Post.

8 Reference peer-reviewed academic literature.

1 is broken and 2 seem to link to google company documents.

Now with all the railing against the MSM by his supporters, you've just invalidated his most powerful references. To talk about media bias, using the media and the oh-so reliable wikipedia as 2 thirds of your source material, kind of stinks of hypocrisy and bias.

This is before I begin to criticise the actual articles referenced. Now I'm not one to say that academia is the only source of reliable information, but referencing opinion to back up opinion seems like building a house of cards.
RomTheBear on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to MG:
> It would be quite reasonable to suggest it as a cause, yes. If the response was to sack the proposer, rather than investigate other possible causes, the true result may never be discovered.

Reasonable to suggest this is one possibility amongst many others, and that in the end, we simply don't know, , yes, suggest that this is the most likely explanation and then make policy recommendations based on that - no.

> Which would be expected surely? If there is no differences between men and women, it wouldn't appear. If there are differences across the whole population but google's selection process only chooses those with the traits they need for software engineering, it still wouldn't appear. Any test would need to be across the whole population.

Exactly, but he's taking observation from the whole population, and then makes unproven assumption from it (first mistake) and then assumes that this applies to google employees (second mistake).
Post edited at 15:23
Offwidth - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to Oliver Houston:
Yet he was an engineer who thought he had something to say in a company that said they encouraged such thinking, even if, as it turned out, he was writing largely from a position of ignorance, he shouldn't have been sacked. When I look at wikipedia in my engineering sub-subjects, it's really reliable and well referenced.. more so often than the text books... how would he know that Social Science comments on that site were so much less reliable.
.
Post edited at 15:36
Oliver Houston - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

I don't necessarily think he should have been sacked, a point for point, well written and referenced rebuttal would probably have been a much stronger response. Coupled with some internal discussion. But sackings do seem to be more the norm over the pond.

I'm merely pointing out that his so-called evidence based opinion is just that, an opinion. If we all reference anything we like on the internet, we can find evidence for pretty much any opinion we like.

I agree that Wikipedia is a brilliant project and often very well written/researched. But there's nothing to stop him adding whatever he wants to it and then referencing himself.
1
wintertree - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to Oliver Houston:

> But there's nothing to stop him adding whatever he wants to it and then referencing himself.

Not that referencing academia helps much with the social sciences where in some given field arguably two opposing camps trott out the same old core arguments in new clothes every generation. A nice way to keep the old citations and impact factors ticking along in the absence of serious tests of correctness. It has the side effect that you can happily pull out papers to back up most views....

I'd treat anything referencing individual studies with extreme caution and would only want to see quality metareviews used in any reasoned argument.
Post edited at 16:12
Offwidth - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to Oliver Houston:
It went through wide internal discussion in Google and got edited and yet no one did anything about it being a 'problem' until it became outside news. As for the validity of his ideas, I'm with you but sadly many here seem to be arguing he was broadly right such is the paranoia around the subject of trying to fairly tackle serious institutional gender inbalances these days.
Post edited at 16:14
Coel Hellier - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to Oliver Houston:

> Of a total of 33 "references", 22 are what I would consider opinion pieces. I think Wikipedia is his largest source, ...

Actually, all the evidence is that Wikipedia is pretty reliable as an overview of a topic.

And this was an internal memo, not a submission to a refereed academic journal -- by that standard it was well referenced.
Coel Hellier - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to Oliver Houston:
> But there's nothing to stop him adding whatever he wants to it and then referencing himself.

Yes there is -- other editors.

And are you suggesting that he'd actually done that (edited Wiki and then cited his edits in the memo) or are you just trying to fault him regardless?
Post edited at 16:27
Coel Hellier - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> Exactly, but he's taking observation from the whole population, and then makes unproven assumption from it (first mistake) and then assumes that this applies to google employees (second mistake).

No, wrong again. You are continually misrepresenting the memo. He does not "assume" that it applied to google employees, he *suggested* that it *might*.
1
TheDrunkenBakers - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
> I used to work for a silicon valley company. There were hardly any black employees BUT there were tons of Indian and Chinese employees. Probably more Chinese/Indian Americans than white Americans. If you go to most computer science conferences you will see hardly any black people but tons of Indians and Chinese as well as US and Europeans. There were significantly fewer women than men in the company I worked for, but if you look at graduating classes from Universities there are also significantly fewer women than men.

> I don't think it is discrimination by tech companies, they are just reflecting the demographics of the people who want to do that kind of job. Same as when I used to walk into the Uni science campus in the morning: roughly equal numbers of males and females when you walked onto the campus but a lot more females turned left into Biology/Botany and a lot more males turned right into Engineering.

> Is this really a problem: I'd love my own daughter to be an engineer like me and I give her every encouragement but she is far more interested in biology.

This.

I work for Nimble Storage so right in the middle of Silicon Valley. There is no discrimination in our business plus we were founded by two Indian American tech wizards. That, and until we were acquired by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, we were also run by an Indian American. I can categorically state that this industry only discriminates on talent and what blood it can get from its employees, regardless of skin colour or sex. In fact, as a highly sales driven organisation, our top sales person is female and she probably earns considerably more than the blokes.


Post edited at 16:40
RomTheBear on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> No, wrong again. You are continually misrepresenting the memo. He does not "assume" that it applied to google employees, he *suggested* that it *might*.

He suggest that it may, and bases all his recommendations on these suggestions.
Frankly, just read the report, it's pretty clear that he is making a point and not simply exploring possibilities at random, hiding behind the word "may" doesn't cut it frankly.
Post edited at 16:54
Coel Hellier - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> He suggest that it may, and bases all his recommendations on these suggestions.

You are overlooking that many of his suggestions are not aimed at women who are already Google employees, they are aimed at recruiting more women.

Therefore it is valid to refer to studies about women overall, without having to assume that they apply to the subset who are already Google employees.
RomTheBear on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> You are overlooking that many of his suggestions are not aimed at women who are already Google employees, they are aimed at recruiting more women.

> Therefore it is valid to refer to studies about women overall, without having to assume that they apply to the subset who are already Google employees.

No, he is simply enumerating a list of characteristic where there are tiny average differences between genders, and then just speculates that those average differences of those cherry-picked characteristic explain the gender gap, without any evidence.
Plus he makes an assumption about a subset from differences between larger groups, which is plain wrong. Even if he was correct that those characteristics make you more likely to do well in tech jobs, this doesn't mean the average differences between gender on those characteristics can be used to explain any of the gender gap in tech, this is pure speculation.

Now you could say his memo was just a collection of pure speculations, and wasn't intended to be anything else, but it's pretty clear reading it that it isn't, he is clearly making an opinionated case.
Post edited at 18:00
Oliver Houston - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Im not suggesting he did, but have you read this: https://heterodoxacademy.org it's pretty clearly opinion dressed up to look like science. This is one of his references, so claiming his memo is evidence based, is pretty dubious.
edwardgrundy2 - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

1. As you say, it is not reasonable to conclude that A definitely explains B. Nobodies saying that is reasonable, though. Not me, not Coel, not the memo guy. It is reasonable to conclude that A may partly explain B. Or, if you look at more thorough discussions of the science, - it's probably reasonable to conclude that A is likely to to partly explain B. (ie a reasonable and objective person might reach that view)

2. Your flower example is quite useful here - apparently you see these gender differences fairly consistently, and more so where people have more freedom to choose. This would be analogous to trying the flower experiment with different soils. Allied with women being over represented in other fields, this is consistent (but of course does not prove absolutely) with different preferences being to some extent biologically determined.

3. Your example of studies of companies not showing different traits between men and women is also helpful (not for your argument though). It's entirely consistent with memo guy's theory. He's saying tech attracts people with certain traits, (and that these traits are more common in men so you get more men). So, based on his theory, you'd expect the women and men it attracts to be similar.

Finally, and I guess this is the heart of our disagreement, there is no conclusive science to prove what is driving the difference in men and women working at google, or else where but people need to make a judgement based on the available evidence. That's what this guy seems to be doing, certainly that's what the guy on the blog I linked to is doing.

Why do they need to make such a judgement? Because it affects how best to deal with the geneder gap. For example, if it is mostly biologically determined differences, then there's a good argument for the things he suggests (ie make the work itself less bias towards male preferences). If it's just genuine sexism then positive discrimination makes more sense (although from a cognitive diversity perspective, this might have a role even if it is biological differences).
1
RomTheBear on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:
> 1. As you say, it is not reasonable to conclude that A definitely explains B. Nobodies saying that is reasonable, though. Not me, not Coel, not the memo guy. It is reasonable to conclude that A may partly explain B. Or, if you look at more thorough discussions of the science, - it's probably reasonable to conclude that A is likely to to partly explain B. (ie a reasonable and objective person might reach that view)

Why ? There is absolutely no evidence that a explains B even partly. This is simply a guess based on cliches.

> 2. Your flower example is quite useful here - apparently you see these gender differences fairly consistently, and more so where people have more freedom to choose. This would be analogous to trying the flower experiment with different soils. Allied with women being over represented in other fields, this is consistent (but of course does not prove absolutely) with different preferences being to some extent biologically determined.

> 3. Your example of studies of companies not showing different traits between men and women is also helpful (not for your argument though). It's entirely consistent with memo guy's theory. He's saying tech attracts people with certain traits, (and that these traits are more common in men so you get more men). So, based on his theory, you'd expect the women and men it attracts to be similar.

No it is not, his theory is that it is biological differences that in part explain the gender gap between men and women in tech, and explain why they are, according to him, not as much carreer driven and resistant to stress, and less attracted to jobs in tech.
Of course there is simply no evidence for that, he is simply jumping to conclusions from tiny aggregate differences.

> Finally, and I guess this is the heart of our disagreement, there is no conclusive science to prove what is driving the difference in men and women working at google, or else where but people need to make a judgement based on the available evidence. That's what this guy seems to be doing, certainly that's what the guy on the blog I linked to is doing.

He's not making a judgment based on evidence. He presents evidence that is unrelated and then bases his judgement on familiar tropes and cliches.
Post edited at 07:59
1
wbo - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:
More sport on how this is grist to the mill for the alt right. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/aug/10/google-cancels-meeting-james-damore-memo-alt-righ...

I'm not going to comment on the quality of the 'science' here (although my use of '' is a bit of a giveaway). But it is always surprising and disappointing how so called 'alternative' speakers 'not scared to speak a bit of common sense' end up in bed with, to be blunt, fascists.

Next week - traffic stats from Saudi Arabia prove woment are generically not disposed ot driving

2
neilh - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to Coel Hellier:

I assume that you are aware that Google in the USA is being sued by about 60 female employees for pay discrimination.
neilh - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to wbo:
Like your last sentence.10/10.
neilh - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

Is that native Indian or Indian originally from India?

Big difference in USA terms.
TheDrunkenBakers - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to neilh:

Indian originally from India.

Our corner of that sector is incredibly well represented by tech savvy Indians (Asian) whether they are developers/techies or in many cases the creators of the companies themselves.
edwardgrundy2 - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:
> Why ? There is absolutely no evidence that a explains B even partly. This is simply a guess based on cliches.

If you accept there are biological differences - which you don't but other reasonable informed people do, and memo guy does - the only assumption you need to make for A to partly explain B is that people's individual preferences affect where they end up working. If that's true it logically follows that it partly explains the difference. I've no evidence (beyond anecotal) that people are more likely to work somewhere consistent with their indvidual preferences true, but it seems an entirely reasonable assumption to make, and I'm sure there is evidence for it (your google psch studies for example).
Post edited at 10:15
edwardgrundy2 - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> No it is not, his theory is that it is biological differences that in part explain the gender gap between men and women in tech, and explain why they are, according to him, not as much carreer driven and resistant to stress, and less attracted to jobs in tech.

Yes, he's saying that's the case *on average* and that's why you get less women in tech - ie there's less women with the preferences for tech. He's not saying that the women you do get in tech are different from the men you get in tech. So his theory's consitent with the men and women you do get in tech having similar preferences.

About the tiny differences argument - read the blog I linked to. It's a response to a guy making that argument. V. interesting particularly if you're a scientist with an interest in stats (I think I remember you're in academia somewhere?)
David Martin - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to wbo:

A bit sad the way the Guardian frames this. The supportive reaction for Damore summed up as being from the alt-right. As though only the extreme right, Yianoupolous etc are the ones on side with this. You too support Damore then you are likely alt-right too.

The left seems to struggle to see that opposition to its own views may not be confined to lunatics. The reaction is from across society, Damore himself indicated he was getting huge amounts of support from within, left-leaning, Google.

Part of the problem really: dismiss opposition as coming from an extreme end of the political spectrum.

> Next week - traffic stats from Saudi Arabia prove woment are generically not disposed ot driving

Yes. You support Damore you likely support women not being allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. The science behind the two causes being so similiar. Right?
Post edited at 11:11
David Martin - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to wbo:


Actually, that article really does wind me up and is so indicative of the problems highlighted by his original argument.

Google cancels staff meeting as a result of the backlash....and everything thereafter points to this backlash as coming exclusively from the right or the "alt-right"

Just take the left menu bar for each linked article:

"Fired Google memo writer gives first big interviews to rightwing YouTubers"...because he's alt-right, right-wing etc.

"Google's sexists memo has provided the alt-right with a new martyr"...because the memo is without question "sexist" and its the alt-right who have objections to his firing.

"What Gamergate should have taught us about the 'alt-right'".

As for the article itself:

So the townhall meeting his cancelled because people feel afraid to speak their minds. Isn't that the exact problem the memo was seeking to highlight? Now the shoe is on the other foot, the Guardian chooses to start frothing at the mouth? If a conservative doesn't feel free to speak his mind, then that's just fine. If liberals feel that way then this is worthy of a news article about how the right is preventing freedom of speech?

People worried they might be outed for speaking publicly? No sense of irony there?

"Damore and his memo have quickly become a cause celebre within various rightwing internet communities,"...yes, nothing to do with normal middle-of-the road lefties and righties being horrified that quoting credible research and making a case for greater support for diversity as a result of that can get you fired?

"Disgraced Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos". I wonder how long he will carry the epithet "disgraced"? Does the Guardian still reference Johan Hari as "disgraced"?

Some Google employees have been singled out by Breitbart as social justice warriors and there have been screenshots revealed about internal chats on diversity.
Hmmm, welcome to Damore's world....but he's just an alt-right, sexist, misogynist so fine to leak his views on to the internet, single him out for his viewpoints, and make him the target of abuse, and have him sacked.

Talk of "agitators", a "campaign", and linking "Gamergate harassment"....

They go on to do a hatchet job of personal attacks on the two youtubers Damore chose to gave interviews to (because that obviously smears Damore as being a sympathiser with their views....even though he has stated he isn't), for (among other things) criticising safe spaces, white privilege, and being anti-feminist (while I don't know these two, many on the right, and people such as Yianoupolous tend to be fiercely anti "third-wave" feminism and and actually supportive of classical feminism, since they see the two as polar opposites when viewed from a classical liberal standpoint...hence feminists like Hoff Summers also supporting them).

Danielle Brown has faced substantial backlash, and has been the subject of harassing memes? Poor thing It's not as if anyone has just lost his job largely based on her reaction and its not as if that same person hasn't also received huge vitriol online.

Coel Hellier - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to the thread:

A summary of some of the science:

https://heterodoxacademy.org/2017/08/10/the-google-memo-what-does-the-research-say-about-gender-diff...

A couple of quotes:

"Gender differences in interest and enjoyment of math, coding, and highly “systemizing” activities are large. The difference on traits related to preferences for “people vs. things” is found consistently and is very large, . . . "

and:

"Our verdict on Damore’s memo: Damore is correct that there are “population level differences in distributions” of traits that are likely to be relevant for understanding gender gaps at Google. Even if we set aside all questions about the origins of these differences, the fact remains that there are gender differences in a variety of traits, and especially in interest/enjoyment (rather than ability) in the adult population from which Google and all other tech firms recruit."
David Martin - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> Of course there is simply no evidence for that, he is simply jumping to conclusions from tiny aggregate differences.
> He's not making a judgment based on evidence. He presents evidence that is unrelated and then bases his judgement on familiar tropes and cliches.

So you disagree with his suggestions then? Pages 8-10?

Coel Hellier - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to neilh:

> I assume that you are aware that Google in the USA is being sued by about 60 female employees for pay discrimination.

Yes, I'm aware of that, and it might explain why Google are a bit jumpy, but it's not that relevant to the memo since Damore does not advocate any discrimination -- indeed he advocates a rejection of discrimination and treating people as individuals, not as a member of a group.
RomTheBear on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> So you disagree with his suggestions then? Pages 8-10?

I don't really disagree or agree, I just observe that they are not based on any evidence.
3
Offwidth - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Despite clear good intent, what he says may as well be random. If he was serious, instead of being an Engineer ignorant of the subject researching on the internet to build his case he might have gone and talked to some proper experts. I think you should be more careful too...I'm sure you don't mean to but it could be read that you are supporting his actual case in that memo, rather than what he tried to do, this is a very controversial field with angry people on both sides and you are well away from your own expertise and our own employers assurances of free debate is best not trusted too far.

Everyone comes out looking bad. Google can't have their cake and eat it in this way: he should never have been sacked. He should have stuck to complaining in the mainstream press and done some proper research and apologised. The press have been the press and placed the story above the person and added to the damage. The alt right continue to be extremist rabble rousers. UKC like most of the web gets to spout off in subjects they also haven't properly researched or understand.
3
David Martin - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> I don't really disagree or agree, I just observe that they are not based on any evidence.

I'm surprised by that as I find the suggestions very hard not to agree with, regardless of which side of the political fence you sit on. But I ask as the "Suggestions" section alone makes up around a quarter of the entire memo.

Yet you label him an "incompetent toxic asshole" and say you can demolish just about every paragraph in his memo.

Rather, it seems you base the former on the fact that (being charitable to your line of reasoning here, despite it seemingly not being supported by the wealth of research referenced here) Damore, as a physical scientist, may not have grasped some of the nuance of social science work and therefore backs his suggestions (which you neither agree nor disagree with) with some faulty assumptions (which you don't agree with).

Can you not see that the adverse reaction to his memo might be out of all proportion to what he actually produced? And that this does have a profoundly damaging impact on the diversity of opinion - which in itself somewhat validates the whole premise of his memo. We're not talking insidious "micro-aggressions" here. We are talking all out attacks and job losses.

I think we can all acknowledge that research in these areas will be contentious as it's obviously an emotive subject. But from what I can see the research appears very supportive. Arguing incessantly over such points is rather missing the wood for the trees.
Coel Hellier - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

> If he was serious, instead of being an Engineer ignorant of the subject researching on the internet to build his case he might have gone and talked to some proper experts.

People are holding this memo to very high standards, and yet it was only an internal memo intended to provoke discussion on an internal email list there for discussing things -- a bit like UKC but internal to the company.

I also hope that people are equally demanding regarding claims that there are no differences at all -- on average -- between how men and women think. Anyone arguing that seems to get a free pass, and isn't expected to produce evidence, yet it is a position that underpins a lot of actual policy in a lot of organisations.

I've been on "diversity training" with my employer, and that involved copious ideological claims that are much more dubious than Danmore's memo and much less supported by any evidence.
elsewhere on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> Yes, I'm aware of that, and it might explain why Google are a bit jumpy, but it's not that relevant to the memo

Only in a parallel universe where embarrassing his employer on a topic he knows they're being sued over doesn't matter.

A highly self-referential google for Google at https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=google&tbm=nws shows about 80% of the first page of news results for Google relate to this memo.

Few non board level employees will survive tarnishing a corporate brand to the extent that it becomes the main story internationally about the company.

I'm not saying it's right or fair but it does look inevitable.
Post edited at 12:38
neilh - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

I would been far more impressed with the company being set up by a native Indian. Let's be honest it's hardly an example of diversity in tech.....it is what most of us would expect!
neilh - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to Coel Hellier:

I wonder if Danmore has a partner /wife/ girlfriend. I wonder what she thinks .

2
David Martin - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to elsewhere:

> Only in a parallel universe where embarrassing his employer on a topic he knows they're being sued over doesn't matter.

The employer embarrassed themselves. Which probably explains why there are now so many hits for Google. I don't think Damore can be held responsible for his own employer's over-reaction, especially since it is categorical in its support from diversity of opinion.

Still no word on the leakers. Had someone not leaked the internal document, none of this would be news.
elsewhere on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> The employer embarrassed themselves.

I think the timeline is it became a story, then he was sacked. The embarrassment making sacking likely happened before Google reacted or sacked him.

Bob Hughes - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> Still no word on the leakers. Had someone not leaked the internal document, none of this would be news.

For the sake of balance its worth pointing out the people sending screenshots of Google's internal message boards to Brietbart news. I agree with Offwidth above: no-one comes out of this looking great.

Offwidth - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to Coel Hellier:
The issue is, from a review of all the work done by experts, how likely cultures mainly determined such differences rather than biology. All the indications I've seen on causes of gender inbalances agree: from overall research metadata reviews and their input to concerned organisation investigations (governments, tech related PSRBs, big companies etc), from the very different gender distributions in 'hard' STEM across different countries and even the difference between UK girls schools and mixed schools; cultures are the main issue. This isn't a denial of biological effects (which can't be altered) but places proper emphasis on cultures (which can be changed). The fact some researchers claim this is wrong should be viewed in the same sense as climate change scientists who deny global warming is down to man... with a very strong pinch of scepticism. The history of the political right taking scientific outliers and doing real damage is a long one: from dodgy tobacco company funded research, through climate change denial, to the support of the doctor who questioned the MMR vaccinations (its not a left vs right thing either.... Russia and China with their totalitarian tendencies do the same... the important thing is to fight for truth over ideology).
Post edited at 14:08
1
planetmarshall on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> They go on to do a hatchet job of personal attacks on the two youtubers Damore chose to gave interviews to (because that obviously smears Damore as being a sympathiser with their views....even though he has stated he isn't), for (among other things) criticising safe spaces, white privilege, and being anti-feminist...

> Danielle Brown has faced substantial backlash, and has been the subject of harassing memes? Poor thing It's not as if anyone has just lost his job largely based on her reaction and its not as if that same person hasn't also received huge vitriol online.

So Damore's supporters are the victim of 'hatchet jobs', whereas the backlash against Danielle Brown only merits sarcastic sympathy?

Captain Darling: So you see, Blackadder, Field Marshall Haig is most anxious to eliminate all these German spies.
General Melchett: Filthy hun weasels, fighting their dirty underhand war!
Captain Darling: And fortunately, one of our spies...
General Melchett: Splendid fellows, brave heroes risking life and limb for Blighty!
2
Bob Hughes - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> I've been on "diversity training" with my employer, and that involved copious ideological claims that are much more dubious than Danmore's memo and much less supported by any evidence.

That's not restricted to diversity training. I've had dubious psuedo-science in sales training, communications training, marketing training, leadership training, management training...


MG - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> I also hope that people are equally demanding regarding claims that there are no differences at all -- on average -- between how men and women think.

It is odd how this is the default position given how blatantly false it is - just look at e.g. (average) sexual preferences between men and women, or average propensity to violence.
planetmarshall on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to MG:

> It is odd how this is the default position given how blatantly false it is - just look at e.g. (average) sexual preferences between men and women, or average propensity to violence.

Perhaps because most of us deal with individuals and drawing conclusions from large scale population statistics only makes sense if you're dealing with populations.
3
MG - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

> Perhaps because most of us deal with individuals and drawing conclusions from large scale population statistics only makes sense if you're dealing with populations.

Umm, we are talking about populations here. No one has suggested assuming and individual has certain characteristics because of their sex.
Coel Hellier - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

> This isn't a denial of biological effects (which can't be altered) but places proper emphasis on cultures (which can be changed).

I don't think it's sense to regard biological affects as unchangeable. All genetic/biological effects get thrown into the mix with environment and culture, and the end result is malleable. For example, if someone has a gene that makes them more shy than average, then they can deliberately train themselves to act more boldly in social interactions. The gene doesn't mean they can't do it, it means it is harder for them than others and comes less naturally.

> The fact some researchers claim this is wrong should be viewed in the same sense as climate change scientists who deny global warming is down to man ...

I don't agree that the "it's all culture" explanation has been established to the that extent, I think that's a highly ideological claim.

For one thing, evidence is that in highly egalitarian societies with a high degree of wealth and personal freedom, such as Scandinavia, you still get a high level of disparity in which roles the different sexes choose. It may be that, when equal freedom of choice really is there, people then use it to act on their natural inclinations and preferences, and that these really are -- on average -- different between the sexes.

Why is that such an outlandish idea? After all, one sex is soaked in one set of hormones and the other sex is soaked in another set of hormones, and we know for a fact that these hormones affect our brains, feelings and attitudes.
planetmarshall on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> For one thing, evidence is that in highly egalitarian societies with a high degree of wealth and personal freedom, such as Scandinavia, you still get a high level of disparity in which roles the different sexes choose. It may be that, when equal freedom of choice really is there, people then use it to act on their natural inclinations and preferences, and that these really are -- on average -- different between the sexes.

Interesting that you should pick Scandinavia as an example. I'm not sold on strict gender quotas, but Sweden Social Democratic Party has had one since 1993, with interesting results.

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/businessreview/2017/03/13/gender-quotas-and-the-crisis-of-the-mediocre-man/
planetmarshall on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Why is that such an outlandish idea? After all, one sex is soaked in one set of hormones and the other sex is soaked in another set of hormones, and we know for a fact that these hormones affect our brains, feelings and attitudes.

No indeed, but equally we know that there are cultural pressures and gender stereotypes that affect both men and women, and to deny that these exist would surely be just as naïve? If Google wishes to recruit more women, as it might, then surely it makes sense from a business perspective to understand what those sociological differences are, as it can't do anything about the biological ones.

damhan-allaidh on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to Coel Hellier:
I will try and have a closer look at those papers in more detail because I wonder how many of them, if any, take into account the cultural influences and conditioning many women experience?

It starts at an early age - just to give an example when I started teaching secondary school an introduced myself as Dr Allaidh, one of my 11 year old female pupils immediately piped up, "Miss, you can't be a doctor because boys are doctors and women are nurses." The rest of the class nodded sagely (I didn't even try to open up the fact that I was not one of those kind of doctors at that point). Sure enough, for my entire (short) teaching career, I was Dr Mrs Allaidh, and the male dr in the school was simply Dr Smith.

My parents raised me in a fairly gender neutral kind of way which was great (I started working on building sites with my dad when I was very young and was used to being treated as 'one of the guys'), it meant a lot of conflict in school ("No you can't join the ice hockey team because you're a girl"- even though I played ice hockey with these guys at the weekends anyway and could give as good as I got or, my favourite, the (male) school guidance counsellor: "Secretarial school is a good option for you." "Why? I want to be an archaeologist." "It's not really a profession a lot of girls go into." When I appled to do Egyptology at the University of Chicago, the then (male) HoD said to me in his office, "You should consider an occupation more suitable for a woman." (I went to night school while still in HS for two years, and excavated at the weekends and presented my first archaeological paper at 16). One of my PhD supervisors constantly ripped me to shreds for listening to Woman's Hour in the lab (on my own - I wasn't inflicting it on anyone else) and wearing nail polish and skirts - "No one will take you seriously." I could go on - it's not a flood, but a steady corrosive drip, drip of: this is your place, these are your preferences, this is what you are suitable for because you are a 'girl'. It happens to boys in a different, equally damaging ways, and I certainly saw it happen when it came to social class when I was teaching in UK schools.

I don't think the guy should've been fired, I think a valuable chance was lost to open up an educational dialogue for everyone - and it's played straight into the hands of the alt-right.
Post edited at 15:19
Offwidth - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to Coel Hellier:

The vast bulk of research shows Biology isn't dominant in tech gender inbalances (the true climate change metaphor is those who deny 'man-made' change is dominant... all sides agree there are many possible causes) and biology can't be changed. It also indicates strongly that culture is dominant, something that can be changed in itself and as you rightly point out can counter biological effects as well. Even Scandinavian countries have cultures that lead to gender difference (and their own research meta data to show it). This 'culture only' argument is a fiction at worse or at best a straw man as everyone serious about the subject knows biology has an influence.
TheDrunkenBakers - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to neilh:

> I would been far more impressed with the company being set up by a native Indian. Let's be honest it's hardly an example of diversity in tech.....it is what most of us would expect!

So would I. In fact, more saddening is the fact that I have worked for large US pharma/biotech/IT companies for the last 20 years or so and I cant remember the last time I encountered a native American or any native north American (Inuit etc) at all.

These businesses have been highly racially/sexually diverse with black, white, Chinese, Indian, male, female, gay blah blah etcand for this they should be applauded but Native Americans have been, to me at least, non existent. The policies of the businesses I have worked for have been about merit so I can only assume that NA/NC peoples are either not interested or are being excluded by some other mechanism. In fact, when was the last time a Native American was prominent at all. I'm thinking Lou Diamond Phillips of 80s Young Guns fame.
damhan-allaidh on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

It may not be that obvious when you meet someone that they are Native American. Having said that, there are serious issues: http://www.epi.org/publication/bp370-native-americans-jobs/
edwardgrundy2 - on 12 Aug 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

Hi, the scandanavian stuff supports the idea that it's mostly biological.... ie in coutries with more gender equality, apparently you get bigger gender differences.

Also, interested to know where you the vast majority of research supports stuff comes from?
1
neilh - on 12 Aug 2017
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:
One good thing about the Fed is that the actively promote small bussiness and target veteran owned, women owned, black and native Indian owned small businesses. I have dealt with all 4.
bouldery bits - on 12 Aug 2017
In reply to neilh:

What did you buy?
neilh - on 12 Aug 2017
In reply to bouldery bits:

I have sold to them. Not bought from them .
Offwidth - on 12 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:
What collected data from multiple Scandinavian research studies in particular supports that, or is that just an untested idea you are sharing, like the google engineer?

This isn't just about reviews of Social Science meta-data, either: its a major economic concern, so western governments, higher educational institutions, independent institutes, tech related companies and engineering and scientific professional bodies have been producing evidence based reports on the problem and what to do about it for many decades. How people see this scale of effort, including many very conservative minded people, as some mass left wing PC conspiracy to hide biological influences is beyond me and seems almost as mad as man-made climate change deniers. Biology has a clear influence and this is further complicated by what exactly is defined as biology and the complex business of splitting off its interaction with cultures but time and time again culture seems to top the major collective studies. For simple minded engineers convinced about biology (usually based on no evidence and having a strong distrust of Social Science research) I ask things like why are there such large world wide variations in STEM gender balances of undergraduates; why do women have the largest research publication output in a handful of smaller European countries (like Latvia) and why do British all girls schools have such a different STEM output to mixed schools.

In the end cultures are the only thing we can change and that can be an incredibly slow and complex business

http://www.nature.com/news/bibliometrics-global-gender-disparities-in-science-1.14321
Post edited at 11:20
edwardgrundy2 - on 12 Aug 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

Sorry, wrote that when I got in last night. Not very clear! And I've maybe misunderstood the comment I was replying to.

My understandingof your post is that you're saying that gender differences in countries that are, on the face of it, more gender neutral (ie Scandis), support the idea that it's mainly culture.

My point in response, is that 1. apparently there are larger gender gaps in countries that are more gender neutral - western societies including Scandis than there are in other countries. And 2. this supports the biological differences argument - ie the more freedom people have to choose their careers and interests, the more influence you would expect biology to have.

I read this in the slatestarcodex blog linked to above. I don't think it's just a made up idea, or that the google guy was just making up ideas. I think it's a reasonable attemp to interpret the available evidence. Personally I find it fairly persuasive although an alternative explanation would be that in free-er societies we're more 'free' to be influenced by culture.

Agree that obviously it's both to some degree and the two will interact. I don't think anyones disputing this.

I'm still none the wiser to where you're getting the majority of evidence says it's culture stuff from. You seem well informed about this, but you're just kind of saying this is how it is - at the same time the slatestart codex guy seems well informed an I'm sure aware of relevant research and reaches a different conclusion...

Last thing, you mention that culture is the only thing we can change - gentic engineering or whatever aside, that's obviously true. But the question is how much should we change our culture? And what action should we take to mitigate negaive affects? How much of it gender differences are biologically determined is relevant to those questions.
RomTheBear on 12 Aug 2017
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> People are holding this memo to very high standards, and yet it was only an internal memo intended to provoke discussion on an internal email list there for discussing things -- a bit like UKC but internal to the company.

> I also hope that people are equally demanding regarding claims that there are no differences at all -- on average -- between how men and women think. Anyone arguing that seems to get a free pass, and isn't expected to produce evidence, yet it is a position that underpins a lot of actual policy in a lot of organisations.

It is absolutely fine to make those claims about smallish group level innate differences between men and women, as long as they are supported by scientific evidence,
However it clearly doesn't explain why a fifth of computer engineers are women.
Dalmore claims that women are "more interested in people than things", and then speculates that this explains why so few women are in tech. But even if you were to go along who those baseless speculations, it doesn't really make sense, if that was true then we could equally speculate that we should have more women than men in senior computing jobs that involve mostly managing teams.
Post edited at 11:58
1
Offwidth - on 12 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:
OK so you have no data and you are speculating. I've nothing against this as long as you look at the mass of reaserch data over cherry picking and rhetoric. Getting people interested is part of resolving the problems in my view.

I wasn't trying to imply the Scandinavian situation gave better evidence: I've no idea of relative differences in comparative levels. I've just been been told they found the same evidence across Europe including Scandinavia. Everywhere seems to have complex and often local cultural effects. As the paper I just linked implies these micro-cultural effects will be hard to indentify and unpick almost anywhere.

Most of the input I've had is from expertise in three distinct areas: those involved in my subject based work on improving gender balances, Social Science researchers in the field and Union based research links. Most of what I have evidence wise is in physical documents but I'll try and see if I can link some more references via the web next week if clearing isn't too busy. The link I provided further up is typical of those who are dealing with modern metadata and blog spin as others might, they cant override that data.
Post edited at 12:20
edwardgrundy2 - on 12 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> It is absolutely fine to make those claims about smallish group level innate differences between men and women, as long as they are supported by scientific evidence. However it clearly doesn't explain why a fifth of computer engineers are women.

But he's just arguing that it may partly explain!!!!!!!

Reasonabe infomred people think that a significant amount being biological is supported by the scientific evidence. You might disagree but you'd need actually have a discussion about the evidence and how to interpret it rather than just asserting "there is no evidence" and pretending people are claiming thngs that they're not.

> Dalmore claims that women are "more interested in people than things", and then speculates that this explains why so few women are in tech. But even if you were to go along who those baseless speculations, it doesn't really make sense, if that was true then we could equally speculate that we should have more women than men in senior computing jobs that involve mostly managing teams.

1. There is evidence that suggests men are more interested in 'things', and tech is more about these 'things'. So it's not baseless to suggest that it might partly explain the difference. 2. You couldn't equally speculate that...
edwardgrundy2 - on 12 Aug 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

I've read a couple of blog posts between informed guys arguing bothsides of the argument. They seem familiar with the data/research. The original blog post is a guy responding to the guy that 'debunked' the google memo. I'm fairly persuaded by the arguments of the guy (indirectly) supoorting the google memo.

I think it's a bit unfair to charachterise this as me having no data and speculating. Obvioulsy I've not read any primary research, but I've read arguments of people that have, and reached a view about which I find more persuasive. I'd say that's pretty much gold standard for internet chat in an area you don't work in!

I don't see that the article you link to is evidence of anything re the debate here. I've only skimmed it but they just seem to say, men get published and cited more than women, some misogynists will interpret this as showing male superiority, that's not true, it's cultural differences.... without really saying why. As far as I can see it could equally be biological gender preferences. (As above, I thnk we agree it's v.v.likely both to a greater or less extent)

No need to dig stuff out on my account, I was just interested in where you're coming from. But thanks for the offer. Out of interest what is your subject?
Offwidth - on 12 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:

Evidence except in some countries where there is little or none in University stats but cultures cause differences later.
edwardgrundy2 - on 12 Aug 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

Sorry, could you explain that a bit further? I'm not sure I follow, but sounds interesting
Offwidth - on 12 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:
I know your convinced but you're not an expert and not looking at the data itself. Some well intentioned people say exactly the same about climate change arguments online (where some research and much big buisness pressure from oil companies say man made change is not dominant). Yep, that's what counts for (fool's) gold internet standards in some places and even in discussion groups in some companies: why the punishment Google gave this guy was completely wrong.

I'm from a Physics and Electronic Materials Science background, mainly work as an academic in the EEE area but have worked across Engineering and Science disciplines and have been involved in some national policy work.

Here are some sources to be getting on with:

http://www.wes.org.uk/content/useful-statistics

http://www.oecd.org/gender/data/wherearetomorrowsfemalescientists.htm
Post edited at 13:20
edwardgrundy2 - on 12 Aug 2017
In reply to Offwidth:
I'm not convinced and I know I'm not an expert. I just find one side of the debate between, as far as I can tell, informed and intelligent people more persuasive. The analogy with the climate change debate is that I've read what informed people say about that too, and I'm persuaded that we should be taking action to mitigate it. Difference being that I'm more persuaded on climate change.

As with your earlier link I don't see that the stuff you're linking to tells us anything about the debate we're having here. It just shows that there are differences, I don't see that it tells us anything about the extent to which they are culturally and biologically driven..

You argue that it does....

> Evidence except in some countries where there is little or none in University stats but cultures cause differences later.

I'm not sure I follow your point though. But it sounds interesting. Grateful if you could humour me by walking me through it? It seems like the crux of our disagreement, and (believe it or not! ), I really am open to being persuaded otherwise.

If you're interested in this stuff, I would recommend reading the blog linked to above when you get the time.
Post edited at 13:45
summo on 12 Aug 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

> Evidence except in some countries where there is little or none in University stats but cultures cause differences later.

I agree. My partner works for a major Swedish company they were discussing who to delegate a task to that would involve a fair bit of travel and time away mon-Fri.. . She re-educated a member of staff who immediately ruled out some women who had kids, but not guys who were also parents. Even in societies that are considered more equal there has to be biological reasons why on average many people develop a given view. Plenty evidence out there already on what is learnt versus inherited. We've evolved through thousands of generations, it's hardly surprising that after a few hundred thousand years society suddenly decides that men and women must perform identically in all respects and it doesn't exactly work perfectly.

Offwidth - on 12 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:
The changes from country to country are just too large for biology to be a main factor. 9% in the UK to 30+% in other countries in engineering grads in the wes link. In the wider OECD links Maths grads as an example goes from majority women in some countries to much lower in most western countries and hardly any in some others. No countries I'm aware of show more women in the top positions in STEM and in most countries the gender stats for top positions are very low.

Being able to make convincing sounding arguments on the internet is mainly politics and rhetoric so I'll stick to listening more to what most of the scientists who look at the mass of data say. What's your bloggers credentials in that ? (remember anti-climate change scientist bloggers use the same sort of approach).. I'll still look at it sometime.
Post edited at 14:07
edwardgrundy2 - on 12 Aug 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

> The changes from country to country are just too large for biology to be a main factor. 9% in the UK to 30+% in other countries in engineering grads in the wes link. In the wider OECD links Maths grads as an example goes from majority women in some countries to much lower in most western countries and hardly any in some others. No countries I'm aware of show more women in the top positions in STEM and in most countries the gender stats for top positions are very low.

Is that a different argument from the one you made before? (It seemed to about the change following uni)

Eitherway, addressing this one. Differences between countries suggest (pretty much prove) that culture has a big effect on gender differences. But it doesn't tell us about how much of an indvidual gender difference or the average gender difference accross all countries is biological and how much is cultural. You can see this with a simple hypothetical examples where we assume different biological affects. Say we have three countries with gender differences (%women - %men) of -10, -20, and -30. If the biological difference is zero, then the cultural impact is -10, -20 and -30. But if it the biological impact is -20 then you have cultural impacts of +10, 0 and -10. In both cases culture has a large effect, but in the first biology has no effect and in the second it has a large effect.

I really hope most scientists aren't making this argument!!

> Being able to make convincing sounding arguments on the internet is mainly politics and rhetoric so I'll stick to listening more to what most of the scientists who look at the mass of data say. What's your bloggers credentials in that ? (remember anti-climate change scientist bloggers use the same sort of approach).. I'll still look at it sometime.

He's a psychiatrist and member of what's sometimes referred to as the "rationalist community". Their ethos is all about rational, evidence based argument (also sci fi and futureology). A lot of his blogging is about interpretting scientific evidence in his field which I guess extends to this stuff. Although I don't think his day to day work would look at gender differences. If you read his stuff generally I think you'd agree he's pretty well informed, tries hard to be objective and to ackowledge his biases and is good at interpretting research/data.

I like to think I can tell the difference between politics and rhetoric and well argued, evidence based stuff

I still don't see anything that says most scientists say it's mostly cultural. Not in anyway saying they don't say this.
Jonny on 12 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> The memo has clearly impacted our co-workers, some of whom are hurting and feel judged based on their gender. Our co-workers shouldn't have to worry that each time they open their mouths to speak in a meeting, they have to prove that they are not like the memo states, being "agreeable" rather than "assertive," showing a "lower stress tolerance," or being "neurotic."

The low expectations on show here as regards understanding distributions is mind-boggling, from the CEO of Google, of all places.

He should swot up on some of the recent neuroscience research, which shows that humans are actually pretty exceptional intuitive Bayesian statisticians.

Offwidth - on 12 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:

Multiple cultures acting at different times over life on top of biology... upbringing, schools, universities, careers and changing social influences. Same argument, broken into sections.

I gave up thinking I could read things intuitively when I hit Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. Learning the narratives we build in our heads, to convince ourselves of our beliefs, as demonstrated in Psychology research, put a nail in the coffin. Incidently, outliers do win out sometimes in science: Einstein and Boltzmann are a good famous examples but very rare... people like Semmelweis are maybe more interesting and typical:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignaz_Semmelweis
crossdressingrodney - on 13 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:

This has been very interesting reading so far, in large part due to your careful and considered response, in clearly attempting to learn more about this. Thanks.

Like you, I find the blogs indirectly supporting the Google chap quite convincing and, while I'm keeping an open mind, those representing the "other side" on here need to raise their game. Convince us!
1
RomTheBear on 13 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:
> But he's just arguing that it may partly explain!!!!!!!

> Reasonabe infomred people think that a significant amount being biological is supported by the scientific evidence. You might disagree but you'd need actually have a discussion about the evidence and how to interpret it rather than just asserting "there is no evidence" and pretending people are claiming thngs that they're not.

There is NO evidence that biological differences explain ANY of the gender gap in tech. That is simply made up.

> 1. There is evidence that suggests men are more interested in 'things', and tech is more about these 'things'. So it's not baseless to suggest that it might partly explain the difference.
2. You couldn't equally speculate that...

I am simply illustrating the point that this is pure speculation. If one speculates that women being more interested in people than things than men explain why there are less women software engineer, then you could equally speculate that it should mean than women should be more numerous in senior roles where "people" are more important than "things".
Basically with such poor reasoning you can make up any bullshit you want. This whole thing is risible.
Post edited at 23:09
6
edwardgrundy2 - on 14 Aug 2017
In reply to crossdressingrodney:

Thanks, kind of you to say so
edwardgrundy2 - on 14 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

Science works by looking at the evidence and seeing what theory best fits it. If you read the blog I linked to, I think you'll see that's what the guy is trying to do and that it isn't no-evidence-bullshit-reasoning-pure-speculation or whatever.

Your example isn't the same because there are plenty of other things about leadership roles other that seemingly suit men's preferences. Drive for status for example. I think your example might be described as bullshit reasoning.

Anyway, been interesting chsatting but I don't think we're going to get much further on this.





1
RomTheBear on 14 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:
> Science works by looking at the evidence and seeing what theory best fits it. If you read the blog I linked to, I think you'll see that's what the guy is trying to do and that it isn't no-evidence-bullshit-reasoning-pure-speculation or whatever.

No, that's not how science works. If all the evidence you have is seeing the sun rising and setting every day, a theory that fits this evidence is that the solar system revolves around the earth. It looks plausible, could fit the little evidence you have, but it doesn't mean it's true or even likely.

Same here. The evidence he shows does not allow to make the conclusions he makes. As you say, it's just a theory, but it doesn't seem to fit the evidence particularly well (even though he cherry picked the evidence, which is even more risible).

> Your example isn't the same because there are plenty of other things about leadership roles other that seemingly suit men's preferences. Drive for status for example. I think your example might be described as bullshit reasoning.

It's exactly the same, there are indeed plenty of other things about leadership roles that seemingly suit men preferences, and so someone else could equally argue that there will be plenty of other things about software engineer role that will suit women preferences.

The reality is that from the evidence he cherry picked you could make up any theory you want, it doesn't mean any of them will be true. His conclusions from the evidence are no more than opinions.
Post edited at 11:20
2
Irk the Purist - on 14 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:

> Science works by looking at the evidence and seeing what theory best fits it.

Very naive. There are countless examples of quite the opposite, where evidence is adapted to meet the theory. In fact you could argue this is how science works day to day.

Where theory is adapted to evidence it is usually incremental changes, desperately seeking to maintain the integrity of the current consensus.

Philosophy of science - lecture 1.1

Coel Hellier - on 14 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> If one speculates that women being more interested in people than things than men explain why there are less women software engineer, then you could equally speculate that it should mean than women should be more numerous in senior roles where "people" are more important than "things".

... unless managing software engineering generally requires a lot of past experience as a software engineer.
edwardgrundy2 - on 14 Aug 2017
In reply to Irk the Purist:
> Very naive. There are countless examples of quite the opposite, where evidence is adapted to meet the theory.

Mildly patronising ;-) Of course, I didn't mean to suggest otherwise.... I don't think the people arging that gender differnces may be partly explained by biology are doing that though.

> Where theory is adapted to evidence it is usually incremental changes, desperately seeking to maintain the integrity of the current consensus.

Sure.
Post edited at 11:42
edwardgrundy2 - on 14 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

Sun example. If people were making decisions based on whether it revolves round the earth then they'd need to do so based on the available evidence. When we get more evidence theories are often superceded. That is, at least as I understand it, how science works. All the while ackowledging the limits of the conclusions you can draw - for example, saying "may explain part" rather than does explain all.

I think the theory fits the evidence reasonably well. I don't think he has cherry picked. Read that blog....

Do you think people on the otherside of the debate have cherry picked, made wild assumptions etc?

Irk the Purist - on 14 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:

> When we get more evidence theories are often superceded. That is, at least as I understand it, how science works.

My response may have been patronising but it doesn't seem to have gotten through!

I'd start with Kuhn and go from there.
RomTheBear on 14 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:
> Sun example. If people were making decisions based on whether it revolves round the earth then they'd need to do so based on the available evidence. When we get more evidence theories are often superceded. That is, at least as I understand it, how science works. All the while ackowledging the limits of the conclusions you can draw - for example, saying "may explain part" rather than does explain all.

The scientific method involves proving the theory is formally valid with flawless reasoning, and then devise an experiment to check empirically the theory.
In this case, he just cherry picks a few bits of statistics, and then simply derives conclusions from that.
He says that innate aggregate differences between men and women explains part of the gender gap in tech. But he doesn't explain or evidence why he thinks that is case, it seems to be just no more than an opinion based on deeply held beliefs.


> I think the theory fits the evidence reasonably well. I don't think he has cherry picked. Read that blog....

I did, not really impressed wither, seem to have the same pitfalls.
He clearly cherry picked a few statistics on contested papers.
You could chose other statistics and make differ t speculations.

> Do you think people on the otherside of the debate have cherry picked, made wild assumptions etc?

I'm sure they did, and they may well be also wrong.
The right answer is simply that we don't know, and when you don't know, the right thing to do is to be humble and try to find out more, instead of making often prejudiced assumptions.

All we know is that there seem to be tiny, group differences between men and women on some narrowly defined characteristics, and there is frankly not much we can deduce from that on the gender gap in tech. If he had left it at that that would be fine.
Post edited at 12:22
1
edwardgrundy2 - on 14 Aug 2017
In reply to Irk the Purist:

Still mildly patronising

I did study a bit of phillosophy of science at uni.

In the context of a discussion about how science "advances" over time, what I'm saying could - I think accurately - be described as naively Popperian. In the sense that Popper could be read as assuming more objectivity and openness to change than we see in relatity. I think that's your basic point, but please correct me if I'm wrong.

That's not the context here, though. Rom is saying that people arguing that biological factors "may partly explain" or "are likely to partly explain" google gender differences are making wild assumptuos with "no evidence". I think they're drawing fairly mild conclusions - "may", "likely to" "partly" etc. - by thinking critically about the available evidence.

In this context, I think it's reasonable to describe science as trying to find the theory that best fits the available evidence* (even if, in practice, people often fall short of this and it takes along time for new evidence to actually change things). I'm simply making the point that where you don't have conclusive evidence, you can still think about what theory would best fit it and draw conclusions. So long as these conclusions are suitabily qualified.

*maybe it's a bit strong of me to describe science generally in that way. But I think I can defintely say that finding the theory that best fits the evidence is, at least, part of science and not the same as making wild assumptions with no evidence.

edwardgrundy2 - on 14 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:
That's the ideal where you can do that - for example, in the hard sciences. Social sciences, however, have to make do with less rigour and draw weaker conslusions. "May partly explain", "Is likely to partly explain" etc. and so on.

A key part of the debate in the blog is about cherry picking versus hiding with noise. Adam Grant - anti google memo guy - argues that they're cherry picking the very few things where there are differences between sexes. Scott Alexander - blogger- argues that they're coverring up relevant differences by including irrelevant things. I'm more persuaded by Alexander's argument. In partuclar, I think this analogy is probably right -

> Suppose I wanted to convince you that men and women had physically identical bodies. I run studies on things like number of arms, number of kidneys, size of the pancreas, caliber of the aorta, whether the brain is in the head or the chest, et cetera. 90% of these come back identical – in fact, the only ones that don’t are a few outliers like “breast size” or “number of penises”. I conclude that men and women are mostly physically similar. I can even make a statistic like “men and women are physically the same in 78% of traits".

> Then I go back to the person who says women have larger breasts and men are more likely to have penises, and I say “Ha, actually studies prove men and women are mostly physically identical! I sure showed you, you sexist!”

Alexander also notes that Grant (Cherry?) picks a single meta analysis that doesn't include the "things v people" stuff, where as other meta analysis that do include it exist.
Post edited at 14:32
edwardgrundy2 - on 14 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> The right answer is simply that we don't know, and when you don't know, the right thing to do is to be humble and try to find out more, instead of making often prejudiced assumptions. All we know is that there seem to be tiny, group differences between men and women on some narrowly defined characteristics, and there is frankly not much we can deduce from that on the gender gap in tech. If he had left it at that that would be fine.

The thing is, there is a gender gap and people are trying to do stuff about it. What the right thing to do about it - if anything - depends to some extent on what's driving it. We also have limited evidence and evidence is likely be limited for the foreseeable furture*. In this context it makes sense to draw what - qualified - conclusions you can from the available evidence. I think this is what they're doing.

Also worth noting, this is in the context of assuming it is cultural and trying positive discrimination stuff and not getting much results in tech. Where as in plenty of other fields - where sexism existed/still exists - women are doing well.

edwardgrundy2 - on 14 Aug 2017
In reply to Irk the Purist:

> I'd start with Kuhn and go from there.

I think it's best to start with Popper before you get to Kuhn and others.
Roadrunner5 - on 14 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:
Whys it suppressing speech?

He's fine to hold such views. Google don't want such views in its workplace. I don't see the issue.
1
David Martin - on 14 Aug 2017
In reply to Roadrunner5:

Because it was based on a discussion about diversity, in an organisation that champions diversity and diversity training...the kind of training where you may just have to hear things that cause offense (e.g. "You, as a male, have privilege and are statistically prone to violence", etc.). The questions posed were actually encouraging people to recognise their own biases, where even if their goal was to expand diversity they could (inadvertently) restrict it. A noble point to raise in my opinion. I certainly don't agree with a situation where some people have a right to not be offended while others don't...that isn't fostering diversity.

Emphasising diversity requires diversity. Encouraging diversity requires openness to opinions, even if they don't represent the views you are specifically trying to encourage. Shutting down views, because they are labelled as conservative, surely doesn't encourage diversity.

Moreover, these weren't opinions presented in an evidence-free vacuum, they weren't intended to shock, and they were presented about as moderately as could be (considering the writer of the memo had witnessed possibly illegal and unfair hiring and employment practices that were discriminatory towards him, all in the name of diversity).

There is a spectrum from 1-10 here, from giving Seig Heil salutes to posing enquiring questions and challenging assumptions. I'd put this at about 9.5 on that scale...yet that is apparently unacceptably offensive.

Google can't claim to champion what it prohibits.
wbo - on 14 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin: no, rr's point is exactly correct. He has a first amendment write to free speech. It doesnt protect him from the consequences of stating opinions that are, in this case, contradictory to his employers policy so out he goes. Who wants to share a workplace with someone whining and making allegations his coworkers are genetically inferior, unsuited? Banging out sexist , racist stories is not aiding a discussion

I'm sure there are hundred plus posts above reinterpreting statistics to suit there purpose but my understanding is most science is not on his side. If he's so superior another brogrammer job will surely follow

1
David Martin - on 14 Aug 2017
In reply to wbo:
By your reasoning anyone can be sacked for just about anything and an employer can set entirely arbitrary, indeed unfair and discriminatory, rules on what can be said. Google's views on what is "advancing harmful gender stereotypes" seems to be exactly that, with some stereotypes permissible while other's aren't.

If that qualifies as so-called "diversity", then "no thanks".

As for...

> Who wants to share a workplace with someone whining and making allegations his coworkers are genetically inferior, unsuited? Banging out sexist , racist stories is not aiding a discussion

What a load of BS and misrepresentation. If nothing else, who people "want" to share a workplace with and who people get to share a workplace with are two different things and precisely what enforcing diversity is all about. He's a racist now too is he?
Post edited at 17:43
crossdressingrodney - on 14 Aug 2017
In reply to wbo:

> no, rr's point is exactly correct. He has a first amendment write to free speech. It doesnt protect him from the consequences of stating opinions that are, in this case, contradictory to his employers policy so out he goes.

It's not a question of amendment rights. If Google wants to claim it values diversity this would have been a chance to show it. If Google wants to retain a reputation as a place where free and original thought is valued, this was a chance to show it, challenging the content if some Googlers disagree with it.

> Who wants to share a workplace with someone whining and making allegations his coworkers are genetically inferior, unsuited? Banging out sexist , racist stories is not aiding a discussion

Have you read the document? Banging out total misrepresentations of his argument certainly doesn't aid the discussion.

On my reading of it, the document seemed pretty careful and rational. The only part that I wondered about was the part headed "women are .." which lists traits more common in general in the female half of the population than the make half. Now I don't know the science, so I'm happy to accept that each of these could be right or wrong (although given the biological and hormonal differences between the sexes, it would seem incredibly unlikely that there are no measurable differences at all). Overall though, the document read to me like an intellectually honest attempt to address a legitimate question and as such I can't see how what the fuss is about.

> I'm sure there are hundred plus posts above reinterpreting statistics to suit there purpose but my understanding is most science is not on his side. If he's so superior another brogrammer job will surely follow

So you haven't read the thread, but you're still able to accuse your opponents of using dodgy statistics support an argument that no-one's actually made.


edwardgrundy2 - on 14 Aug 2017
In reply to crossdressingrodney:


> Have you read the document? Banging out total misrepresentations of his argument certainly doesn't aid the discussion.

Spot on!

edwardgrundy2 - on 14 Aug 2017
In reply to wbo:

> Who wants to share a workplace with someone whining and making allegations his coworkers are genetically inferior, unsuited?

The google memo guy doesn't do that at all.


edwardgrundy2 - on 14 Aug 2017
In reply to wbo:

> I'm sure there are hundred plus posts above reinterpreting statistics to suit there purpose but my understanding is most science is not on his side. If he's so superior another brogrammer job will surely follow

Where did you get that understanding from? I'm not saying that's not the case, but I haven't been able to find anything to support this. Offwidth suggested the same above and wasn't able to produce anything.

If you are going to have strong opinions about this, I'd suggest reading the slatestarcodex blog on this linked to a few places above. It's a response to Adam Grant, the guy that came out saying the google memo was all nonsense science. Really interesting read if you have the time.

If you don't, a quick summary of my* understanding of the debate. There seems to be general consensus that the differences google guy lists exist - stuff v things, drive for status, agreeability etc. There seems less consensus that the differences are biological, but certanly doesn't seem to be a consensus that they're not. The main debate seems to be around whether focussing on these differences is cherry picking. Adam Grant, the guy who's against the google memo says it is cherry picking. Slatestarcodex blog guy says Adam Grant is doing the opposite of cherry picking, ie swamping relevant factors with noise. He gives the following analogy -

> Suppose I wanted to convince you that men and women had physically identical bodies. I run studies on things like number of arms, number of kidneys, size of the pancreas, caliber of the aorta, whether the brain is in the head or the chest, et cetera. 90% of these come back identical – in fact, the only ones that don’t are a few outliers like “breast size” or “number of penises”. I conclude that men and women are mostly physically similar. I can even make a statistic like “men and women are physically the same in 78% of traits".

> Then I go back to the person who says women have larger breasts and men are more likely to have penises, and I say “Ha, actually studies prove men and women are mostly physically identical! I sure showed you, you sexist!”

*I'm obviously not an expert. I've just reda the memo, the blog post linked above, news description of Adfam Grant argument and Adam Grant's response to the blog post. And watched a couple of interviews with Google memo guy. One thing I am pretty sure of having done this is that it's not a case of sexist tw*ts with an agenda. (Although, of course, sexist tw*ts with an agenda will use it for that agenda)
RomTheBear on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:
> If you don't, a quick summary of my* understanding of the debate. There seems to be general consensus that the differences google guy lists exist - stuff v things, drive for status, agreeability etc. There seems less consensus that the differences are biological, but certanly doesn't seem to be a consensus that they're not. The main debate seems to be around whether focussing on these differences is cherry picking.

You are missing the point. The studies he quotes are indeed, arguably, cherry picked, but the main point is that he derives risible conclusions from it.

Essentially he is saying "hey I've found a bunch of studies on wikipedia that support the view that there are tiny group average differences between men and women on this narrow set of characteristics that I cherry picked, and therefore I conclude, out of my arse, that they may explain part of the gender gap in tech"

Duh ? Where is the causal link, or at least that a stastical analysis to show why this would be be a significant factor ? There is absolutely nothing there.

if you think that is a reasonable approach, frankly, nothing can be done.
Post edited at 12:04
2
David Martin - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> Essentially he is saying "hey I've found a bunch of studies on wikipedia that support the view that there are tiny group average differences between men and women on this narrow set of characteristics that I cherry picked, and therefore I conclude, out of my arse, that they may explain part of the gender gap in tech"

That's a cheap shot.

He states he studied this stuff for quite some period of time. Its entirely possible his own sources don't come from Wikipedia but from scholarly articles. But if you colleagues likely lack an Athens login there's hardly much point in referencing to those is there? Linking to Wikipedia is an entirely reasonable course of action - you can dismiss it all you want, but it has a high reliability and is itself referenced so not hard to dismiss the source content if you want to.

As for the "tiny group average differences" and "narrow set of characteristics", you still seem to be missing the point. And as you don't seem to dispute his suggestions (which are ultimately his conclusions), I don't see why the research debate is such a huge area of concern. He is simply quoting other research, which itself appears to have a lot of support and high credibility. I never knew that doing so was a sackable offense.

If you wish, you can cherry-pick an entirely different set of criteria to come to the false conclusion there are no differences between men and women. It won't negate the overall list of suggestions he comes to.
neilh - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:
That depends on Google's terms and conditions of employment ( and the rules are different in the US to the UK).

From all I have read Google are well within their employers rights in the US to sack him.And probably had little choice to demonstrate support for their female employees.S
Post edited at 13:04
wbo - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin: the fact he hasn't stated explicitly is true, but if you want to share an office , expect equal treatment from someone who 'researches' articles demonstrating you are inherently, genetically inferior, go right ahead

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/08/the-worlds-worst-support-group/536850/



5
David Martin - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to neilh:

What "advances harmful gender stereotypes" is entirely subjective and breaching these sorts of T&Cs is extremely easy. Having become very familiar with grievance policy, the current fashion in such cases is that no "actual" offense/bullying/discrimination needs to occur. The aggrieved party only needs to have perceived that it may have occurred. This really opens up a Pandora's box.

Fortunately, the policies I am experienced in thankfully tacitly acknowledged that such liberal interpretation of what advances stereotypes or causes offense is likely to lead to substantial false accusations or be the result of misunderstandings. Therefore such events are first and always referred to non-formal mediation for resolution, with formal channels and possible sanction/sacking being an absolute last resort. That sacking appears to have been the first-resort in Google's case very much points towards a knee-jerk reaction - and an unfair one at that.

Part of the pursuit of diversity and equality is to challenge policy, procedure, and thinking which inadvertently hinders diversity....as Damore was precisely trying to do.
Therefore, in a case like this where practices and policies were seen to potentially inhibit diversity, don't you think simply saying "tough luck, that's the terms and conditions" is rather missing the whole point here?

Likewise, I'd say that constantly telling me I may be violent also advances a stereotype. But it's one I have to live with because it *may* be accurate and is unfashionable to challenge. I don't see why females should be exempt from having to hear similar arguments, be they stereotypes or not.

Part of the point of diversity is that you have to accept opinions that you may not like to hear or may not agree with.
David Martin - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to wbo:

Christ on a bike.

Read...the....document....please.

Then quote to me where he says "genetically inferior"....go right ahead.
RomTheBear on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:
> That's a cheap shot.

No, that's really the smoking gun.

> He states he studied this stuff for quite some period of time. Its entirely possible his own sources don't come from Wikipedia but from scholarly articles. But if you colleagues likely lack an Athens login there's hardly much point in referencing to those is there? Linking to Wikipedia is an entirely reasonable course of action - you can dismiss it all you want, but it has a high reliability and is itself referenced so not hard to dismiss the source content if you want to.

I don't dismiss wikipedua as an useful tool. It's usefil if I want to find out a specific fact. It's not really useful when you're just trawling it to find bits here and there that seem to support a pre-established opinion.

> As for the "tiny group average differences" and "narrow set of characteristics", you still seem to be missing the point.

How is that so ?

> And as you don't seem to dispute his suggestions (which are ultimately his conclusions), I don't see why the research debate is such a huge area of concern. He is simply quoting other research, which itself appears to have a lot of support and high credibility. I never knew that doing so was a sackable offense.

He is not simply quoting other research. As I said before, if he has left it at that, that would have been fne. Instead he went on to speculate as to what this research means fit the fender gap in tech, without any evidence proving the link between that research and his conclusions.

> If you wish, you can cherry-pick an entirely different set of criteria to come to the false conclusion there are no differences between men and women. It won't negate the overall list of suggestions he comes to.

What negated the overall list of suggestions he comes to is simply that there isn't any scientific backing behind them. As you just said, anyone can just cherry pick some numbers out of any study, make false conclusions from them, and then make Ill advised recommendations.

You could rewrite the same article with the exact same evidence and give it the opposite conclusion, fit the good reason that there isn't any rigourous logical link between the research he quotes and his conclusions.
Post edited at 13:44
2
David Martin - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> What negated the overall list of suggestions he comes to is simply that there isn't any scientific backing behind them.

Ok. I'm not going to address the rest of your post, because what I have quoted from you above is clearly ludicrous and therefore negates it.

Happy?

RomTheBear on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:
> Ok. I'm not going to address the rest of your post, because what I have quoted from you above is clearly ludicrous and therefore negates it.

> Happy

Whatever you like. I just observe that you are stil unable to show where is the logical link between the aggregate group differences he quotes, and the conclusions and recommendations he makes from it.

if someone told you:

"women drink more orange juice on the average than men, thererfore that may explain the gender gap in tech, and I recommend that we give more orange juice to men to close the gap.
And to prove my point, here is a study showing that indeed, women drink more orange juice on the average than men"

Is this a correct form of reasoning and research ? Of course not.
Yet it's pretty much what he does. It just appears a bit more convincing to the naive reader simply because he plays on deeply held cultural beliefs.

Post edited at 14:11
3
neilh - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

Google was in a no win situation.You either hack off all their female employees or you let this issue carry on for the sake of free speech.

They did the right thing for their female employees.

10/10 for them.
1
thomasadixon - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to neilh:

> Google was in a no win situation. You either hack off all their female employees or you let this issue carry on for the sake of free speech.

Bit of a sexist assumption there. Why do you think women think differently about this issue than men, such that it hacks them off but doesn't hack men off?
1
David Martin - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to neilh:

That's assuming all female employees feel the same way about the document. It is evident they don't.

When the head has to call a townhall meeting because the organisation is now tearing itself apart internally, its quite clear Google's action is not helping and that this isn't an issue drawn down gender lines.

There are plenty of reactions short of sacking you can revert to. That is why most organisations have substantial hoops and processes required in order to sack someone.
RomTheBear on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> That's assuming all female employees feel the same way about the document. It is evident they don't.

> When the head has to call a townhall meeting because the organisation is now tearing itself apart internally, its quite clear Google's action is not helping and that this isn't an issue drawn down gender lines.

> There are plenty of reactions short of sacking you can revert to. That is why most organisations have substantial hoops and processes required in order to sack someone.

Or maybe, they simply looked at how much it was going to cost them in PR and internal complaints to keep this guy, and realised it would probably be a waste of money and resources to keep him.
1
Postmanpat on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to neilh:
> Google was in a no win situation.You either hack off all their female employees or you let this issue carry on for the sake of free speech.

>
Very odd assumption. It's a staple of the "feminist" argument that women introduce diversity into the workplace and that this is good. This would presumably imply that for whatever reason many women, including many "feminist" women, believe that women, whether genetically or not, have different qualities than men.

If they believe that it doesn't seem contradictory for them to believe that somebody who argues a form of this, however inaccurately or cackhandedly or differently from the womens' specific views, has a right to a hearing and not to be sacked for arguing his views on an internal forum.
Post edited at 15:54
1
RomTheBear on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to Postmanpat:
> Very odd assumption. It's a staple of the "feminist" argument that women introduce diversity into the workplace and that this is good. This would presumably imply that for whatever reason many women, including many "feminist" women, believe that women, whether genetically or not, have different qualities than men.

> If they believe that it doesn't seem contradictory for them to believe that somebody who argues a from of this, however inaccurately or cackhandedly or differently from the womens' specific views, , has a right to a hearing and not to be sacked for arguing his views on an internal forum.

The problem is not that he pointed out that women have on average, slighlty different qualities than men on various criterion. No problem with simply stating available findings from research.

The problem is that he concludes without further research or proof, that somehow it explains the gender gap in tech.
Essentially, he is just peddling the old myth that to be interested and do well in tech carreers, you have to be a career driven, testosterone filled, analytical nerd.

Google probably recognises that peddling this type of misconceptions is harmful to their business.
Post edited at 15:49
2
Postmanpat on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> Google probably recognises that peddling this type of misconceptions is harmful to their business.
>
Where is your peer reviewed evidence to support this assertion?

RomTheBear on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to Postmanpat:
> Where is your peer reviewed evidence to support this assertion?

Thats essentially what they said in their statement :

"First, let me say that we strongly support the right of Googlers to express themselves, and much of what was in that memo is fair to debate, regardless of whether a vast majority of Googlers disagree with it. However, portions of the memo violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace"

I think that's a fair assessment from Google, and after having read the memo, I reach the same conclusion. A lot of what was in the memo was just discussing available evidence - fair game - but then he makes some conclusions that are clearly based on no more than stereotypes and myth.

Post edited at 16:12
2
neilh - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:
In the UK maybe, US rules on sacking will be completely different.

I have little sympathy for the guy. Especially as I have a daughter employed in that sector.

David Martin - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to neilh:

> In the UK maybe, US rules on sacking will be completely different.

The rules may be. But I'm not sure in these circumstances the rules say you "have" to sack them. As I understand, in California you can, with a few caveats, fire people for anything.

The whole issue is about what is best or good practice for diversity. Do you really think there will be more diversity of opinion at Google now?

> I have little sympathy for the guy. Especially as I have a daughter employed in that sector.

I have a huge amount of sympathy for the guy. As a human being who thinks freedom to express views, regardless of whether I don't agree with them, should be universal and not privileged to certain groups.
1
neilh - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

I have little sympathy for him.

Try telling your view to women in the sector who are continually belittled, it starts from day 1 at Uni when doing projects when you are asked to make the tea( becuase you are obviously the woman who does that sort of thing). Drip, drip it carries on like this.You have to step outside that sort of cr~p and get the 1st class degree and then get the best paid job after graduation in your year to show you are better.And all the time you have idiots like this sniping away in the background.Its a startling waste of talent.

Fortunately there are more and are enlightened employers -who get it- and are now prepared to tackle it.
7
David Martin - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to neilh:
Being told to make tea because you are a woman isn't even remotely comparable to someone making a reasoned argument for why diversity in the workplace isn't being achieved.

Essentially you are saying this guy should be sacked because of the sexist behaviour of others.

There is nothing enlightened in perpetuating or instigating unfair, unequal or discriminatory practices in the workplace. The failure to acknowledge that internal bias (Damore's whole point) when they have just exhibited it for all to see, even more so.
Post edited at 17:29
tony on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> Thats essentially what they said in their statement :

> "First, let me say that we strongly support the right of Googlers to express themselves, and much of what was in that memo is fair to debate, regardless of whether a vast majority of Googlers disagree with it. However, portions of the memo violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace"

> I think that's a fair assessment from Google, and after having read the memo, I reach the same conclusion. A lot of what was in the memo was just discussing available evidence - fair game - but then he makes some conclusions that are clearly based on no more than stereotypes and myth.

That doesn't come close to supporting your assertion that "Google probably recognises that peddling this type of misconceptions is harmful to their business."

Evidence to support that assertion would need to demonstrate a decline in Google sales and suitable supporting data to show that such a decline was directly attributable to the publication of the memo. I'd be willing to bet you can't make such a demonstration.

All you're doing is making a conclusion based on stereotype and myth ...
RomTheBear on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:
> The rules may be. But I'm not sure in these circumstances the rules say you "have" to sack them. As I understand, in California you can, with a few caveats, fire people for anything.

> The whole issue is about what is best or good practice for diversity. Do you really think there will be more diversity of opinion at Google now?

> I have a huge amount of sympathy for the guy. As a human being who thinks freedom to express views, regardless of whether I don't agree with them, should be universal and not privileged to certain groups.

We all agree thateverybody should be able to express their views without fear of prosecution or persecution.

But this doesn't mean that you have a right to expect people to like you, or want to work with you, no matter what you say.
Post edited at 17:35
2
David Martin - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> But this doesn't mean that you have a right to expect people to like you, or want to work with you, no matter what you say.

I doubt Mr Damore had any illusions about being liked. By his own admission he appeared to be a minority at Google and had to be careful about what he said.

But he was otherwise apparently a highly skilled and exemplarary employee. I would hope people would be willing to work with him based on that alone. I've worked with a number of people where there was definitely a mutual dislike between us.

But it seems, because some people don't like Mr Damore's views, or dont like to work with him because of his views, Google decides the best course of action is to fire him. I wish I had had the option of having a few people I thought were obnoxious and disagreed with sacked.

Given what he wrote is at least contested, and in fact a discussion about such views can't even take place if they arent spoken about, he is hardly a hate preacher or vocal woman hater.

Yet an all out hate campaign and removal of employment is seen as safeguarding freedom of opinion and diversity?

I'm astounded the issue of his sacking is even being debated. It appears to be a new low for supposed free thinking liberal ideals.
RomTheBear on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:
> I doubt Mr Damore had any illusions about being liked. By his own admission he appeared to be a minority at Google and had to be careful about what he said.

> But he was otherwise apparently a highly skilled and exemplarary employee.

He should have stucked to IT, because he really sucks at politics it seems.

> But it seems, because some people don't like Mr Damore's views, or dont like to work with him because of his views, Google decides the best course of action is to fire him. I wish I had had the option of having a few people I thought were obnoxious and disagreed with sacked.

> Given what he wrote is at least contested, and in fact a discussion about such views can't even take place if they arent spoken about, he is hardly a hate preacher or vocal woman hater.

> Yet an all out hate campaign and removal of employment is seen as safeguarding freedom of opinion and diversity?

Freedom of opinion doesn't mean you can expect people to like what you have to say.

> I'm astounded the issue of his sacking is even being debated. It appears to be a new low for supposed free thinking liberal ideals.


You right, I'm astounded that we're even discussing the issue of his sacking. He offended collegues, embarrassed his companies by peddling risible stereotypes, and breached the internal code of conduct he willingly signed up to. I mean, what else do you need to get sacked these days ?
Post edited at 18:34
5
David Martin - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:
While this is getting tiresome, I'll bite.

> He offended collegues, embarrassed his companies by peddling risible stereotypes, and breached the internal code of conduct he willingly signed up to. I mean, what else do you need to get sacked these days ?

Google can fire "at-will". The rationale given ultimately means nothing.
But if I write a document that discusses just males and females, while failing to take into account "gender-fluidity" aren't I also perpetuating gender stereotypes, possibly causing gross offense, and therefore also deserving of being fired?

If people being "offended" and "stereotyping" are sufficient to have you fired, where is the line drawn? I'm offended and stereotyped when my gender is marked for high rates of violence. Can I have anyone who mentions this fired? Or what about this example of being offended (www.bbc.com/news/av/world-40931479/is-it-ok-to-use-black-emojis-and-gifs)?

> He should have stucked to IT, because he really sucks at politics it seems.

Not sure he was aiming at politics, other than his politics (being centrist rather than left-of-centre) making him a minority in the organisation and therefore compelling him to adjust his behaviour so as to align with the majority for fear of backlash. Is this the diversity you uphold?

> Freedom of opinion doesn't mean you can expect people to like what you have to say.

He appeared to acknowledge that his views may not be liked or agreed with. He was soliciting for people to say so in order for him to understand whether he was correct or not.
If being disliked on a given day is reason to lose your job, then we would all have been sacked. And in an "at-will" state like California, it would be the rationale to sack all those minorities you are keen to protect.

Thankfully in the UK, largely as a result of the left, I doubt such a sacking would be allowed to occur. Strange that many of the left seem keen to undo such protections when those being protected don't conform to their own ideology.
Post edited at 19:33
MonkeyPuzzle - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

This was a ten-page diatribe against part of his employer's policies and stated company values. If he'd been better at "people" rather than just "things" he would've realised that this is properly tweaking the nose of a company who famously accepts less than 1% of applicants. Companies over here manage to find a way to shuffle people towards the door whose faces don't fit but this is news because it's Google.
3
neilh - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

It is a small example of the stereotyping of women in this sector,something which you fail to grasp.

Google had a choice either be seen to support the women in their workforce or run with your perspective.Both not easy choices for any employer.

They were in a no win situation and selected the one which supported the females and simply hung out this guy to dry.

No doubt if he is good he will easily get a job elsewhere.
1
David Martin - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to MonkeyPuzzle:

That argument has been covered already earlier. Google specifically encourages through a system of internal forums these discussions. I imagine far more contentious issues than this one, and more heated critiques of policy and performance, may get discussed there.

Damore's sin appears to be one of improper ideology.

Further, Google appears to value opinion and free speech so operating on similar principles to other research institutions. It seems odd therefore that employees of such institutions can publish papers and speak out publicly in support of Damore, essentially repeating and backing up his claims. And they arent fired. Shouldn't they be too?
David Martin - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to neilh:
> It is a small example of the stereotyping of women in this sector,something which you fail to grasp.

A micro aggression is that?

> Google had a choice either be seen to support the women in their workforce or run with your perspective.Both not easy choices for any employer.

They can still support women and not fire him. There is zero reason for the decision to be binary...especially if they uphold the standards they claim.

> They were in a no win situation and selected the one which supported the females and simply hung out this guy to dry.

No. They could have had a win-win. They're potentially in a lose-lose now, worsened if women dont support their actions or start applying to Google in larger numbers. There is nothing to indicate support or opposition to Damore's thesis within Google was drawn down gender lines.

> No doubt if he is good he will easily get a job elsewhere.

Maybe not if discussion intended for internal purposes has been publicly leaked and you have been very publicly fired as a result.

No doubt the same flippant comment has been used when sacking people for being gay, black, Jewish or female in the past.
Post edited at 20:50
RomTheBear on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> While this is getting tiresome, I'll bite.

> Google can fire "at-will". The rationale given ultimately means nothing.

> But if I write a document that discusses just males and females, while failing to take into account "gender-fluidity" aren't I also perpetuating gender stereotypes, possibly causing gross offense, and therefore also deserving of being fired?

No. But that's not what he's done.

> If people being "offended" and "stereotyping" are sufficient to have you fired, where is the line drawn? I'm offended and stereotyped when my gender is marked for high rates of violence

It's not a stereotype it's true. if you get offended by that, you have a problem.


> Not sure he was aiming at politics, other than his politics (being centrist rather than left-of-centre) making him a minority in the organisation and therefore compelling him to adjust his behaviour so as to align with the majority for fear of backlash. Is this the diversity you uphold?

I am not sure you understand the concept of diversity in the workplace. It has nothing to do with letting people who promote old sexists myths thrive.

> Thankfully in the UK, largely as a result of the left, I doubt such a sacking would be allowed to occur.

good laugh ! Where is it you work ? You'd get fired for half of what he's done in most companies in the UK.

> Strange that many of the left seem keen to undo such protections when those being protected don't conform to their own ideology.

Since when there are protections that allow employees to breach their contract with their employer ?



3
RomTheBear on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:




> No doubt the same flippant comment has been used when sacking people for being gay, black, Jewish or female in the past.

You still don't get that your opinions a protected characteristics.
Yes you can't be fired just for being gay, or black, but you can be fired for being generally a tw*t. Shit happens.

2
TobyA on 15 Aug 2017
Roadrunner5 - on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> That's assuming all female employees feel the same way about the document. It is evident they don't.

> When the head has to call a townhall meeting because the organisation is now tearing itself apart internally, its quite clear Google's action is not helping and that this isn't an issue drawn down gender lines.

> There are plenty of reactions short of sacking you can revert to. That is why most organisations have substantial hoops and processes required in order to sack someone.

Not in the US. There is no free speech right for employees for companies.

As a teacher in a very conservative catholic school I can be sacked for just being seen drunk, even most of my facebook posts. If I expressed some of the views I hold in school, I would get sacked. And legally.

I have to really be careful how I teach and argue back against views on evolution, climate change, homosexuality and a range of other issues.

1
David Martin - on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to Roadrunner5:

Indeed. While I can sympathise with a desire for "flexibility in the workforce", the hire-fire mentality in the US seems harsh and unreasonable for employees. It doesn't seem like something we should really be championing and should be grateful for the protections we have in Europe.
David Martin - on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:
Regarding male violence rates and telling me I am more likely to be violent, you say "It's not a stereotype it's true. if you get offended by that, you have a problem."

But you have stated repeatedly here that it is wrong to infer differences between individuals from average differences between the genders. It is surely therefore wrong to say I will be more violent than the woman sat next to me.

You appear to want it both ways - I have a "problem" if I am offended in my example, but women have a right to not be offended if differences are pointed out between genders.

> good laugh ! Where is it you work ? You'd get fired for half of what he's done in most companies in the UK.

Hmmm, so I assume Jussim, Miller, Alexander and Soh (to mention just a few), who not only argue in support of Damore's points but publish the kinds of evidence he uses will be out of a job soon too?

In the UK Damore would have so many grounds to appeal, anything from him not actually breaching the code of conduct because it is debatable whether or not his document was sexists, to have been unfairly singled out as views like his had been previously stated by others.

> Since when there are protections that allow employees to breach their contract with their employer ?

Since never. But he doesn't need to breach his contract to be sacked in California. He can be sacked on the spot for anything; entirely possible there to sack someone for being black and simply say "we were offended someone yesterday with your words".

> Yes you can't be fired just for being gay, or black, but you can be fired for being generally a tw*t. Shit happens.

He can be fired for all manner of reasons. Political ideology being one of them.
Post edited at 05:26
Big Ger - on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to Roadrunner5:

> Not in the US. There is no free speech right for employees for companies.

> As a teacher in a very conservative catholic school I can be sacked for just being seen drunk, even most of my facebook posts. If I expressed some of the views I hold in school, I would get sacked. And legally.

> I have to really be careful how I teach and argue back against views on evolution, climate change, homosexuality and a range of other issues.

Jesus mate, why would you want to work under such a repressive system?
David Martin - on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to TobyA:

Yes, read that one previously. Needless to say, I have more than a few issues with it ;-)
Jonny on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

There are many types of diversity, and attention is only be paid to the most visible ones.

This essay states the case beautifully: http://www.quillette.com/2017/07/18/neurodiversity-case-free-speech/.
Postmanpat on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to Jonny:

> There are many types of diversity, and attention is only be paid to the most visible ones.


All well and good but essentially what he seems to be saying is that you should be allowed to hold or postulate controversial ideas only if you can also identify yourself as a "minority" or "victim" or whatever the correct terminology is (neurodiversial. I suppose). So essentially he is not defending free speech. He is making the slightly odd claim that people should be allowed to postulate controversial ideas only if they can demonstrate themselves to be "neurodiversial".


MonkeyPuzzle - on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> Indeed. While I can sympathise with a desire for "flexibility in the workforce", the hire-fire mentality in the US seems harsh and unreasonable for employees. It doesn't seem like something we should really be championing and should be grateful for the protections we have in Europe.

Agreed, but your OP was saying this is representative of us, collectively, being in a dark place over political correctness. The fact of the matter is, in the US, if this guy worked for a vulture capital firm and wrote a ten-page document disagreeing with the organisation's policies he could quite easily expect to be fired as well. Ergo, this is not representative of a problem with political correctness (outside of Google itself), but a problem with American employment law.
3
David Martin - on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to Jonny:

A brilliant article.

Maybe if more of those currently outraged by Damore had read it prior to his sacking, we might not be in this situation. A shame that anyone even needs reminding of this kind of stuff anyway though. I had assumed its contents would be self-evident, especially to those on the left of the political spectrum.
MG - on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to MonkeyPuzzle:
> Agreed, but your OP was saying this is representative of us, collectively, being in a dark place over political correctness.

Isn't the point that being free to say things that may be wrong or speculative or even offensive is good because the chances are sometimes they will contain insights or truths that would otherwise be missed? In a company like Google that requires new thinking to survive, and here had set up channels specifically to encourage debate, it seems very odd to sack someone who says something that is controversial like this. Whether he was right or wrong, or partly right is sort of irrelevant, the fact he has sparked a global debate about what he wrote that has highlighted all sorts or research is surely enough to show that allowing ideas like this to be aired is good for developing thinking and testing ideas. The next time someone at Google wants to say something a bit off-the-wall that may contain the kernel of the next great idea, are they now more or less likely to say it?
Post edited at 09:47
David Martin - on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to MonkeyPuzzle:

To a degree that is true.

But even without being fired and while being protected by employment law, simply facing disciplinary action and constant grievance cases, can have a insidious impact on free speech. I don't think Damore ever expected to be sacked but was complaining about an issue that he already felt negatively impacted him and Google more generally.
TobyA on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

What issues? It seems to focus on the key point that even though there is research showing difference between genders his conclusions can't be drawn from that research.

I think it also draws attention to the context of endemic sexism, right up to assault, that is broiling in Silicon Valley and the US tech sector more generally over the last year or two. If we divorce his, and Google's actions from that we are missing a central part of this, in the same way that policing after the Lawrence Enquiry couldn't be divorced from that.
David Martin - on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to Postmanpat:
I read it more as making the case that the neuro-divergence may make up large proportions of the workforce and that they are likely to be discriminated against by policies designed to protect. They exist on a spectrum, with the author highlighting only those who fit within current medical definitions. In fact, they may not even be a minority, with any of us being technically neurodivergent at any point - particularly at the point when we are most likely to say something that runs afoul of acceptable speech policies.

EDIT: As one of the comments under the article notes:
"I notice that at least half a dozen of the named geniuses also appear on lists of celebrities who are thought to classify as INTP under the Myers-Briggs typology. If personality types (Big 5, Myers-Briggs, Keirsey, whatever) are eventually confirmed to have common hormonal or biochemical foundation then it’s not just ‘neurodiversity’ that is discriminated against by speech codes but also ‘biochemistry’… and we are already aware of other protected statuses that depend on biochemistry (such as skin colour)."
Post edited at 10:06
1
Postmanpat on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:
> I read it more as making the case that the neuro-divergence may make up large proportions of the workforce and that they are likely to be discriminated against by policies designed to protect.
>

>
Yes, I agree. But surely if the neuro-divergant should be allowed to voice controversial ideas, some of which turn out ultimately to be brilliant ideas, then shouldn't "ordinary" people be allowed to voice them as well?
Simply enlarging the definition of or number of "special cases" is side stepping the issue.

As the article does make clear, in order for good or brilliant ideas to see the light of day many bad ideas have also to be given that light and discussed. One would think that the in-house forum of an organisation full of clever people might be an appropriate place for this to happen. But apparently not.
Post edited at 10:20
MG - on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to Postmanpat:

> Yes, I agree. But surely if the neuro-divergant should be allowed to voice controversial ideas, some of which turn out ultimately to be brilliant ideas, then shouldn't "ordinary" people be allowed to voice them as well?


Does the article suggest they can't? I thought it was just written by someone with Aspergers using their condition to highlight the problems.
Postmanpat on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to MG:

> Does the article suggest they can't? I thought it was just written by someone with Aspergers using their condition to highlight the problems.

No it doesn't. I infer it. It doesn't actually address the point.
David Martin - on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to TobyA:

> What issues? It seems to focus on the key point that even though there is research showing difference between genders his conclusions can't be drawn from that research.

I had kind of hoped you wouldn't ask .
It's a long article, and I won't claim to dispute everything he says. But a few examples:

It gets off to somewhat of a shaky start when, like the Guardian and the Independent, they call the memo an "anti-diversity" memo. It was anything but and to call it that shows the author of the rebuttal probably being guilty of what they accuse Damore of - “motivated reasoning”. Likewise, then stating "Now that we’ve worked out what your memo’s really about, let’s examine its argument. ", is a bit of an obnoxious claim.

But ignoring the emotional introduction, as he says, "lets get to the argument", which starts next to the image of the superimposed normal curves...

"These are the main gender differences you cite"
...Damore doesn't actually do that. Much like our resident Archers character has repeatedly posted, it would be problematic to swamp the data with the unnecessary. What Damore seems to be doing is highlighting some *specific* traits that may be more prevalent in females, and which on their own may lead to few women in the tech sector. He isn't even stating, as the author contends, that there are "differences in men’s and women’s ability to code".

Damore's memo is a rough outline of a viewpoint he has formulated on witnessing what might be illegal, but even if not are likely discriminatory, practices against him. He is seeking people to poke holes in it. It isn't a document produced for academic publication, nor to explore every avenue of potential difference in genders. In the course of the discussion, it would hopefully be brought to his attention that he hasn't considered some aspects (points 1-4 of the 6 mentioned). This might refute his whole conclusion - something he appears to welcome. Alternatively, as an intelligent chap, he may go have a think and come up with more counter examples to strengthen his case against those.

This in itself is the importance and utility of open dialogue. Instead, he was sacked as such a debate appears to be out of bounds.

"Fifth, you clearly don’t understand our company, and so fail to understand what we are trying to do when we hire."
- would be more helpful to articulate what that is then. I think Damore gets it (you are trying to get more women). What he is saying is that the means you are using may simply swap one lack of diversity for another.

"And sixth, even if you are right that more men than women are well-suited to the job of software engineer at google, you are wrong that taking steps to recruit more women is inherently unfair to men."
Is he wrong? Based on possessing an organ that hangs between my legs that compels me to tick one of probably two tickboxes, if I screw up my job interview at Google that is my career at Google over. Whereas those allowed to tick the other box are granted a second opportunity?

Damore was arguing for a wider conception of diversity. For example, opinion about this case amongst the people I know is not split along gender lines. It's entirely possible Google will be deemed no more attractive to women following their actions and many women may be repelled by Google's discriminatory free-speech culture (women, though tending left, do cover the political spectrum). What is more likely is that anyone at Google not falling left-of-centre will feel their views cannot be expressed and those not falling in to this political alignment are unlikely to wish to join Google. Google's diversity has probably just taken a massive hit, and it is more likely than ever to now be an echo-chamber (answering the very title of the memo)....and in all likelihood those in Google will be blissfully unaware it has become so. That's not a healthy environment.

"Men score higher on measures of anger, and lower on co-operation and self-discipline. If it had been the other way round, I’m betting you would have cited these differences as indicating lack of suitability for the job of coder".
The Economist correspondent should count himself lucky he doesn't work at Google - I'd think he should get fired for advancing these harmful gender stereotypes ;-) Besides, Damore was trying to explain why there may be fewer women in tech, not that men are unsuitable for tech. I'd more than welcome an article on the later, though producing one would presumably also be ground for sacking.

"In many countries girls now do better in pretty much every subject at school than boys".
Great. Now that education has improved and become more equitable (or perhaps just as inequitable but now slanted against males) soon we may see a rebalancing of genders in tech and other vocations. Active positive discrimination may be flogging a dead horse and be needlessly antagonistic and unfair.

...too large....to be continued....
David Martin - on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to TobyA:

"There is plenty of evidence that women in Silicon Valley suffer harassment and discrimination."
Maybe true. Possibly even a result of the imbalance in numbers. Having worked for a long time in an organisation that was overwhelmingly female staffed, I saw what I could say was harassment and discrimination against male staff. I'm not sure it was sexism. Rather it felt more like the female employees on average displayed different traits than the males and as they were more numerous they, inadvertently dominated the discourse of what was acceptable behavior. More effective than shouting "sexism!" every time this occurred, emphasising and allowing diversity of opinion might have been more effective. None of that says it is right, but I don't see why it should elicit the author's " 'We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism,' you write. But we know there is sexism! We don’t need to infer it from the existence of gender gaps.".

"With humans, though, you must take great care before concluding that any specific difference is innate since our societies are so much more complex and varied than those of other animals. (By the way, I find it blackly funny that some of the conservatives who have seized on you as a hero don’t believe in evolution at all.)"
I'm not sure he was making any claim about nature V nurture, and that debate was somewhat irrelevant to his points. He simply notes that there is evidence for biological differences possibly being an influence. Even if they are learnt differences instead, this doesn't detract from whether or not women of employable age exhibit those traits.

"Teamwork, in particular, is important—the stereotypical image of the geek working alone in his basement is far from reality. Senior engineers must manage teams—and by your own reasoning that should mean that women, with their greater empathy and interest in people, should be over-represented at that level, compared with their numbers in more junior jobs. That they are not should have given you pause.".
A point also made by Damore; that there are traits which could be emphasised so as to encourage more women in to tech. Damore isn't stating these other skills he hasn't mentioned should be ignored. He's simply highlighting areas that he has personal experience in, probably based on his personality type, are being overlooked.

"Many of the problems in our industry are caused by the sorts of misconceptions about the work that you clearly hold. " would be accurate if it wasn't for the fact that Damore suggests ways to get more women, and more diversity in general, in to Google. He is simply challenged the current expectation of 50/50 representation.

"When you first wondered why so few of our software engineers were women, and why we’re trying to hire more and whether that was fair, there were plenty of smart things you could have done. You could have asked some of your female colleagues about their experiences in the industry. You could have looked for evidence that conflicted with your biases "
That's exactly what Damore claimed to be doing. He produced a document that he acknowledged might be wrong, and put it out there for people to point out where. This was a point he made in his very first interview and in pretty much the first line of the text itself.

The article's author then goes on to reference a number of opinion pieces which have already been discussed here. Rather than them being smoking guns that demolish the memo, they are themselves contentious and debatable.
Thankfully, their authors can publish them and we can debate them. Something we are all better off for, regardless of whether they offend, conflict or stereotype. The freedom to do so being the nub of this whole issue.
David Martin - on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to Postmanpat:

> Yes, I agree. But surely if the neuro-divergant should be allowed to voice controversial ideas, some of which turn out ultimately to be brilliant ideas, then shouldn't "ordinary" people be allowed to voice them as well?

Yes. A point equally made by some of the follow-on comments.

I'm feeling compelled to defend the author here as I'm concerned you raising this point might lead some here to believe it invalidates all he is saying ;-)
RomTheBear on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:
> Regarding male violence rates and telling me I am more likely to be violent, you say "It's not a stereotype it's true. if you get offended by that, you have a problem."

I have not told you that, at all.
Because men on average, are more violent than women, doesn't mean that you are more likely to be violent than a woman.
You confusing group differences with individual differences.


> But you have stated repeatedly here that it is wrong to infer differences between individuals from average differences between the genders. It is surely therefore wrong to say I will be more violent than the woman sat next to me.

You clearly have read nothing of what I've said.
I've specifically, and repeatedly, said there is no problem with stating available evidence on group average differences between genders. If dalmire had left it at that, it probably wouldn't be an issue.
The problem is the conclusions he draws from it, those are not supported by any evidence.

> You appear to want it both ways - I have a "problem" if I am offended in my example, but women have a right to not be offended if differences are pointed out between genders.

See above. I'm starting to think you've learned nothing from our discussion.
Post edited at 12:27
RomTheBear on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to Postmanpat:
> Yes, I agree. But surely if the neuro-divergant should be allowed to voice controversial ideas, some of which turn out ultimately to be brilliant ideas, then shouldn't "ordinary" people be allowed to voice them as well?

Nobody prevented Dalmore from saying anything he wanted, he's always been allowed to say what he wanted and still is.

Freedom of speech just means you can say anything you want, within the limits provided by the law. It doesn't mean others shouldnt be allowed to disagree with you.
Post edited at 13:44
Bob Hughes - on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

A rebuttal to your rebuttal - i have edited your mail significantly to keep the length acceptable. I tried to do so fairly - of course point out where you think I have not achieved that.

> "These are the main gender differences you cite"
> ...Damore doesn't actually do that. ...it would be problematic to swamp the data with the unnecessary. Damore... is highlighting some *specific* traits that may be more prevalent in females, and which on their own may lead to few women in the tech sector.

Damore's conclusion rests on the assumed fact that gender differences in tech are largely driven by different interests between men and women. He is assuming this is the case - if he didn't then his recommendations would make no sense. So it is fair to criticise him for selecting a very narrow set of gender differences.

I could say "women on average are shorter than men, meaning that weightlifting is easier for them as they have to lift weights a shorter distance". This would be absurd. Similarly, inoring the fact that many technical roles require a lot of interaction with people is a problem for Damore's argument.

> "And sixth, even if you are right that more men than women are well-suited to the job of software engineer at google, you are wrong that taking steps to recruit more women is inherently unfair to men."

> Is he wrong? Based on possessing an organ that hangs between my legs, if I screw up my job interview at Google that is my career at Google over. Whereas those allowed to tick the other box are granted a second opportunity?

The Economist's argument is that it is already harder to get a job in tech if you are a women. (There is a great study showing that women's code is more likely to be accepted on the software development forum Github.... but only if the fact that they are a woman is hidden.) so Googles hiring measures are actually levelling the playing field.

> "There is plenty of evidence that women in Silicon Valley suffer harassment and discrimination." Maybe true. Possibly even a result of the imbalance in numbers. ... it felt more like the female employees on average displayed different traits than the males and as they were more numerous they, inadvertently dominated the discourse of what was acceptable behavior.

Examples of sexism, harrassment and discrimination in tech, just off the top of my head:
Github example (see above)
Team building activities ending up in strip bars / brothels (see Uber for an example but it is common)
Dave McClure (a VC) propositioning and forcing himself on female founders

It is very hard to claim that these are just examples of one group of people being dominant. I'll admit that, at least in the case of the VC, there is no evidence that it is systemic. Although it certainly isn't a single, isolated case.
If, ofr the sake of argument, we follow your logic and assume that it is not sexism, merely the behaviour of men when they are in the largest group, how does that change the overall argument that it is harder for women to get into tech? It doesn't. In fact it would seem to argue more strongly for positive discrimination .

> "Many of the problems in our industry are caused by the sorts of misconceptions about the work that you clearly hold. " would be accurate if it wasn't for the fact that Damore suggests ways to get more women, and more diversity in general, in to Google.

Technology jobs already involve a lot of interaction between people. I would certainly assume - based on working for a software company - that well over 20% of tech jobs involve a lot of interaction with people. So his analysis of what a tech job is seems wrong.

I have a separate problem with his recommendations: he spends as much space - if not more - hedging his recommendations than he does making them :

Women on average show a higher interest in people and men in things
We can make software engineering more people-oriented with pair programming and more collaboration. Unfortunately, there may be limits to how people-oriented certain roles and Google can be and we shouldn’t deceive ourselves or students into thinking otherwise (some of our programs to get female students into coding might be doing this).
Women on average are more cooperative
Allow those exhibiting cooperative behavior to thrive. Recent updates to Perf may be doing this to an extent, but maybe there’s more we can do. This doesn’t mean that we should remove all competitiveness from Google. Competitiveness and self reliance can be valuable traits and we shouldn’t necessarily disadvantage those that have them, like what’s been done in education.
Women on average are more prone to anxiety. Make tech and leadership less stressful. Google already partly does this with its many stress reduction courses and benefits.
Women on average look for more work-life balance while men have a higher drive for status on average
Unfortunately, as long as tech and leadership remain high status, lucrative careers, men may disproportionately want to be in them. Allowing and truly endorsing (as part of our culture) part time work though can keep more women in tech.
The male gender role is currently inflexible
Feminism has made great progress in freeing women from the female gender role, but men are still very much tied to the male gender role.If we, as a society, allow men to be more “feminine,” then the gender gap will shrink, although probably because men will leave tech and leadership for traditionally feminine roles.

> "When you first wondered why so few of our software engineers were women, and why we’re trying to hire more and whether that was fair, there were plenty of smart things you could have done. You could have asked some of your female colleagues about their experiences in the industry. You could have looked for evidence that conflicted with your biases "
That's exactly what Damore claimed to be doing. He produced a document that he acknowledged might be wrong, and put it out there for people to point out where.

An honest - or at best unclumsy - attempt to understand the experience of women in the tech industry wouldn't have started out claiming that women aren't suited for leadership because they are more neurotic. Whatever the truth of the statement it is clearly not going to elicit an open answer.

> Thankfully, their authors can publish them and we can debate them. Something we are all better off for, regardless of whether they offend, conflict or stereotype. The freedom to do so being the nub of this whole issue.

The irony of this is that much of the world is now having a very open discussion of the issues raised by Damore's memo - and indeed his voice on the issue has beem magnified enormously. Think this whole case doesn't show that freedom of speech is dead. Quite the opposite, it is alive and well. What it shows, though, is that if you raise such a clearly sensitive issue in such a clearly insensitive way on a company forum you will get the sack... but if you work for a household name your global profile will be raised immeasurably.

David Martin - on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to Bob Hughes:

I'm not going to rebut your rebuttal of my rebuttal.

But I will say, I would liked to have thought this whole discussion is a healthy one to have and at the very least shows the issue of gender and capabilities is not cut, dried and agreed (in which case it is should not be considered untouchable territory).

Pretending for a moment that we were Google employees ourselves, with access to their discussion boards, wouldn't this very discussion most ideally take place within the confines of those forums; employees not being forced to discuss internal policy at a pub, on UKC, Facebook, in the public domain or not be discussed at all? Damore's argument could surely be defended, verified or torn to shreds based on its merits via that medium, as I'm sure many other equally contentious issues are.

Instead, Google has declared that forbidden. They have forced the debate to take place entirely outside of their own realm. Staff are seemingly treated as children, too sensitive to hear views or arguments on a subject which it appears normal people can discuss safely and capably elsewhere.

My issue has never been that freedom of speech itself is dead. My concern is that employment is being actively denied based on ideology, even where that ideology constitutes a mainstream and arguably reasonable political/social viewpoint. Given how central employment is to anyone's ability to physically survive, that diversity training and equal opportunities policies are specifically designed to ensure access, when you start denying some people employment rights because you don't agree with them, then this is very much the thin end of the wedge towards removing freedom of speech itself.
Jonny on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> A shame that anyone even needs reminding of this kind of stuff anyway though. I had assumed its contents would be self-evident, especially to those on the left of the political spectrum.

Exactly.

It's a shame that there needs to be recourse to more identity politics (this time centred around neuro-atypical people) and claims of 'disparity of impact' of certain laws (which is the greediest concept I can imagine). We were supposed to have learned the lessons that say that free discussion is essential hundreds of years ago, and not since forgotten them, but not being a player in these games problem now often amounts to being excluded from basic elements of society (losing employment, for example).

Either no-one gets any special treatment, or everyone does. We seem to have chosen the latter route, which involves a hell of a lot more work for the same outcome. It could be that undoing the mess will be harder than attempting to include every last interest group, but on the other hand there are many wheels that don't squeak, and it'll be a long time before we see them oiled. In the meantime we can expect to see many loud and heroically unstoic people have a disproportionate influence on these sorts of policies, in the state, in companies, and informally.
David Martin - on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to Jonny:

Unfortunately, that is the game and the only way to expose its absurdity appears to be by playing to the very rules it imposes.

In my old job, where identity politics was pushed to ever greater levels, I'd felt for a while that going down this route (though never encountering the term "neuro-atypical") was an inevitability.

It always felt odd that those claiming special status failed to recognise the degree to which you could endlessly sub-divide people into special cases based on some subjective measure, with subjectivity itself accorded definitive status. The end result only being ever more division; trans- battling feminists, blacks (who cannot be racist) battling non-white minorities/majorities, the privileged telling the underprivileged to check their privilege.
Bob Hughes - on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> (in which case it is should not be considered untouchable territory).

I don't believe it is untouchable territory, but it is territory that should be handled with care, especially in discussions within a company, and i don't think Dammore handled it with sufficient care.

> Pretending for a moment that we were Google employees ourselves, with access to their discussion boards, wouldn't this very discussion most ideally take place within the confines of those forums; employees not being forced to discuss internal policy at a pub, on UKC, Facebook, in the public domain or not be discussed at all? Damore's argument could surely be defended, verified or torn to shreds based on its merits via that medium, as I'm sure many other equally contentious issues are.

From what I have read, Google seems to be fairly unusual in the extent to which they encourage such discussion. Possibly not in the context of silicon valley but certainly in the context of most companies around the world. The internal discussion board at my company are basically people congratulating some VP or other on his great insightful blog post of the week. More substantive discussions do happen but normally within small groups of people and certainly not on company bulletin boards. If i had written Damore's memo i would have been fired for wasting company time let alone reinnforcing gender stereotypes.

> My issue has never been that freedom of speech itself is dead. My concern is that employment is being actively denied based on ideology, even where that ideology constitutes a mainstream and arguably reasonable political/social viewpoint. Given how central employment is to anyone's ability to physically survive, that diversity training and equal opportunities policies are specifically designed to ensure access, when you start denying some people employment rights because you don't agree with them, then this is very much the thin end of the wedge towards removing freedom of speech itself.

There are ways that Damore could have made his points without creating such a stink. He's been given the sack for making an argument on a very sensitive topic in a clumsy and unsubtle way. Not for raising the topic in the first place.


RomTheBear on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:
> It always felt odd that those claiming special status failed to recognise the degree to which you could endlessly sub-divide people into special cases based on some subjective measure, with subjectivity itself accorded definitive status. The end result only being ever more division; trans- battling feminists, blacks (who cannot be racist) battling non-white minorities/majorities, the privileged telling the underprivileged to check their privilege.

Maybe if people like Dalmore and others stopped obsessing about gender and making stuff up, it wouldn't be such a problem.
Tech companies should just focus on hiring the best people they can, and be as meritocratic as possible, regardless of protected characteristics such as race or gender. That does mean they indeed sometimes have to crack down on the misrepresentations and myths that are still plaguing the industry, and even sometimes getting rid of those who seek to perpetuate them.

Who is claiming special status by the way ?
Post edited at 17:21
3
neilh - on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

You are being too narrow in your view.

Technology companies are almost desperate to increase the role of women in tech. They know it's not good that the numbers are declining not increasing.My daughter was stunned to find out that over the last 10 years the number of women studying computer science in the UK had dropped by 50%.

Google themselves are actively trying to encourage more women into computing.

Never mind your view on free speech etc.They had to be seen to take swift action or else you would have had google been seen in the same light by women in that sector just like Uber now is.

I like your description of micro aggression.
Jonny on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> The end result only being ever more division; trans- battling feminists, blacks (who cannot be racist) battling non-white minorities/majorities, the privileged telling the underprivileged to check their privilege.

Doesn't sound like a recipe for unity. I sometimes wonder if life in tribes, bands and villages has left us with a desire for social groups of a similar size, and therefore that the whittling down will stop when the groups reach those sorts of scales. Or it'll go all the way and we'll find ourselves hopelessly alone, each in our own group of one (where we've always been, just with a lot more ire towards others). My actual guess is rather that the reduction will collapse as soon as it doesn't feel like lots of people are on your side. It might take a while, and population growth is against us.

You're right though: some compromise between adhering to principles of stoicism and humility, and playing the game, is where this'll have to go. I tend to be spared the practical consequences in my work, although I do meekly swallow periodic women-in-science talks.

The saddest thing for me is that the wonderfully rich flow of adaptations, specialisations and trade-offs that brought us such a mix of populations, cultures, sexes and minds is always seen in the light of the suitability and appropriateness of its products for discussion. Bright minds have been dulled thus, and the world is poorer for it.
David Martin - on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to Bob Hughes:
> If i had written Damore's memo i would have been fired for wasting company time let alone reinnforcing gender stereotypes.

Jesus. What line of work are you in?!

I assume Damore wrote and researched this in his own time, BTW.

> There are ways that Damore could have made his points without creating such a stink.

That seems a little harsh. Diversity training itself, which he was made to sit through, can be laced with far more assumptions and stereotypes than he ever made. Yet it gets a free-ride and he gets fired?
Post edited at 17:46
edwardgrundy2 - on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

I think he draws reasonable conclusions from a sensible consideration of the available evidence. Or, more accurately, he summarises other people that have done that. I've tried to discuss why I think he's not just cherry picking and drawing baseless conclusions, but you just keep asserting that's the case and not engaing in discussion in any meaningful way.

Here's Steven Pincker making the same case in relation to gender differences in top level academic scientists. A I see it, it's a well thought through consideration of the available evidence. It *is* a statistical analysis. Of course, it could be wrong, there's not conclusive evidence, nor is there likely to be any time soon, but if you think this is simply making things up, frankly, nothing can be done. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mYeZ9by-eM

Again, there is a gender gap, people are trying to do something about it based on the idea that it's all cultural. It's perfectly reasonable to make the argument that biology is likely to play a significant part if you believe the evidence suggests this.

Last you'll here from me on this.
Postmanpat on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:

> Last you'll here from me on this.
>
You should be very worried. I've been silently cheering you on

RomTheBear on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:
> I think he draws reasonable conclusions from a sensible consideration of the available evidence.

i disagree, some of conclusion he draws are not supported by the evidence he quotes. They are made up.

> Or, more accurately, he summarises other people that have done that. I've tried to discuss why I think he's not just cherry picking and drawing baseless conclusions, but you just keep asserting that's the case and not engaing in discussion in any meaningful way.

I've gone in great detail detailing the flaw in his reasoning.

> Here's Steven Pincker making the same case in relation to gender differences in top level academic scientists. A I see it, it's a well thought through consideration of the available evidence. It *is* a statistical analysis.

Yes, it is a stastical analysis. No such thing in dalmore's work.

> Again, there is a gender gap, people are trying to do something about it based on the idea that it's all cultural. It's perfectly reasonable to make the argument that biology is likely to play a significant part if you believe the evidence suggests this.

The evidence does not suggest this in any way. It is Dalmore baseless interpretation that it does.
He cherry picks a number of characteristics, shows some evidence of group level differences, and deduces, with no evidence of any causal link, that this explains part of the gender gap in tech.

As I said in an example before, it's as if I was saying "here is a study showing that women drink on average more orange juice than men, therefore it probably explains part the gender gap in tech"

Similarly, for example, he says that women on average are more interested in "people" than "things" and that may explain part of the gender gap. Nowhere he gives us any evidence showing why being more interested in "things" than "people" makes you more suited to roles in the tech industry. He appears to have simply made it up.

If you don't see a massive flaw with this type of sophistry, I'm not sure what else can be done for you.


> Last you'll here from me on this.

As you wish.
Post edited at 18:10
2
edwardgrundy2 - on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to Bob Hughes:

> Damore's conclusion rests on the assumed fact that gender differences in tech are largely driven by different interests between men and women. He is assuming this is the case - if he didn't then his recommendations would make no sense. So it is fair to criticise him for selecting a very narrow set of gender differences.

He's not simply assuming this. He's summarising what a lot of clever, informed, people who are trying to be objective say. They have carefully considered the evidence on gender differences in tech and science and reached the view that it's likely to be in (significant) part due to biological differecences. The evidence is, of course, not conclusive - in this kind of thing it's very difficult for it to ever be. But, in my view, to suggest they're simply assuming things that suit their prejudcices reflects either your own prejudices, that you haven't read their stuff or you don't understand it.

If you're going to have strong opinions about this, I would recommend reading/watching and understanding the following -

Steven Pincker on gender differences in science https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mYeZ9by-eM

Elisabeth Spelke responding to Pincker arguing it's all cultural/sexism https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bTKRkmwtGY (includes the pinker talk as well but worse sound. follow up discussion at the end is interesting)

Scott Alexander responding to Adam Grant (guy who claimed to debunk the google memo) http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/08/07/contra-grant-on-exaggerated-differences/ (response from Grant in the comments)

You might be more persuaded by one side or another. But to suggest that they are simply assuming things is ridiculous.

Remember, this is social science. Evidence will likely always be limited. But there is a gender gap and people are trying to do something about it. The best thing to do depends to some extent on what's driving that gender difference, and all people can do is try to interpret the available evidence. If it's in a reasonable part biologically driven, then google memo guys suggestions of making jobs more suited to female gender preferences make sense, if it's all cultural they don't. That's what these people are doing - trying to interpret the available evidence to help make better policy.

Note: I do agree that even if it is in a large part biological it will probably still be a bit cultural and so existing postive discrimination stuff probably still makes sense (but with google guys suggestions aong side them). So I think the google guy was wrong to recommend getting rid of these.


Bob Hughes - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> Jesus. What line of work are you in?!

I was being slightly flippant to be fair. I was really making the point that the freedom which Google employees have to criticise management and debate these topics in company-wide forums is, in my experience, unusual.

> That seems a little harsh. Diversity training itself, which he was made to sit through,

He wasn't made to sit through it - the training was voluntary.


Bob Hughes - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:

thanks - will need to respond in a day or two after i've had chance to listen to the youtube videos.
neilh - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:
I am interested to learn if you personally think that women are discriminated against in the workplace.

Has for example your partner experienced such discrimination?
1
edwardgrundy2 - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to neilh:

> I am interested to learn if you personally think that women are discriminated against in the workplace.

Obviously I can't reply for David, but nothing in the google memo suggests the author thinks women aren't discriminated against. Likewise I can't see anything that suggests David think's this.



David Martin - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:
It rather depends on "the" workplace and the questions risks tarring all workplaces with the same brush.

In my lifetime of work, I can't think of anywhere where that was the case. Wages were collectively set, on an established grading system, so there was zero chance of people doing the same job being intentionally paid different amounts. I can't think of any policy or practice that impacted women adversely, or if subtle differences did occur I suspect they would be evenly balanced. Diversity awareness and inclusion were practiced everywhere (if there were less than 50% females represented - not the other way around). There were historical cases of salary inequality amongst some academic staff, but they were being dealt with. Overall males tended to fill managerial positions but that seemed to be despite the institution bending over backwards to try and get more females into these roles. I don't think that's a result of discrimination with plenty of more plausible explanations.

As I posted previously, my current and previous employments are and were overwhelmingly dominated by women. In my previous employment, I did feel this had somewhat of an adverse impact on the males; essentially male traits or physical characteristics were routinely commented on in a derogatory fashion and it didn't seem there would be much support for challenging that. I was well aware my paternity leave was less than female maternity leave and, with few exceptions, every female member of staff took more sick days off than male staff - which caused resentment but also couldn't be discussed. I certainly felt l could speak more colloquially around male staff than I could around females, and be far less fearful that offense wouldn't be taken to innocuous comments. Though that could be a result of a grievance culture combining with a female majority meaning some people used these policies as a point scoring mechanism.

What I really noticed, and something which I heard referred to for the first time in Damore's interview with Jordan Pederson, was a noticeable difference for in-group v out-group cooperation. Factionalisation amongst female staff was extreme, with the politics of who was in and who was out on a given day, almost impossible to keep track of. If you were in, it was all hugs and kisses. If you were out, then behaviour looked like outright bullying. As far as I could tell, the only reasons it never seemed to be tamed was because they appeared to accept this as normal, and because whoever you would be formulating a grievance against would be your ally a week later. It was a constant area of discussion and stress - especially managers.

If we are allowed to criticise behaviors for the disruption they cause in the workplace, there were plenty of behaviors that seemed solely confined to female staff that were disruptive in the extreme - "neurotic" being a reasonable description in my opinion. While male staff would discuss this amongst ourselfs, there were few females we felt we could raise the issue with, for obvious fears. So they persisted when perhaps they shouldn't have.

As much as I may have experienced it, I wouldn't extend my experience beyond the places I have worked in. Likewise, I don't think anyone should necessarily assume because discrimination exists in some workplaces that theirs is guilty of harboring it.

As for my partner; she often states she has all the advantages as a female and can use her gender to get her way. There may be a generational gap here. Like the swinging pendulum of male V female educational attainment, comparing a workplace wedded to the 1970s would be very different from one which has moved with the times.
Post edited at 14:10
RomTheBear on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

I think that post is pretty revealing of your pet obsession with genderising everything, more than anything else.




1
MG - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

I suspect anyone who uses the word "genderising" is much more likely to be guilty of it that those who don't, even those who can't spell "behaviour"!!
RomTheBear on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to MG:
> I suspect anyone who uses the word "genderising" is much more likely to be guilty of it that those who don't,

Gender-ifying ? Better ?
Anyway, seemed like an odd post. I worked in various sectors and never have observed anything like Dave's rather laughable and cliche description of factions of neurotic women causing mayhem in the worplace and "using their gender" to get ahead.
Either he worked in some strange places, or maybe he just sees what he wants to see.
Post edited at 16:49
MG - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

I understand he worked academia in social studies or some such. Given that, has his experiences sound quite mild.
RomTheBear on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to MG:

> I understand he worked academia in social studies or some such. Given that, has his experiences sound quite mild.

Maybe, I don't know, never worked long in acadenia, sounds like a made a good choice ! I tend to not pay that much attention to the gender of the people I work with. It doesn't seem to make any difference frankly.



David Martin - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

I was expecting a response like that from you.

As I stated, all of this could simply be a result of it being a largely female staffed environment so these traits were going to be observed mostly in women. Unfortunately they seemed almost exclusively confined to women.

You don't like what you hear? Tough. I was asked my experience and you have it. As Anthroplogists discovered decades ago, if asking that question it is best to let the respondent have their own voice. Good for you on not having had the same experience - but you're apparent denial of others' is telling and unsurprising.

An obsession with sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling "It's not true! It's not true!" is why your arguments here get less and less engagement.
2
David Martin - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to RomTheBear:

> It doesn't seem to make any difference frankly.

Great. There's probably little requirement then for identifying gender and trying to get a balance of them in the workplace then surely?
RomTheBear on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> Great. There's probably little requirement then for identifying gender and trying to get a balance of them in the workplace then surely?

I completely agree with that, in fact I am pretty opposed to the collection of statistics on gender or race. It just seems irrelevant.
edwardgrundy2 - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:
Rom's probably best ignored.

That said, you were asked a general question - do you think women are discriminated against in the work place? - and you focussed on your experience (in the kind of places you wouldn't expect much discrimination), and sort of avoided giving a straight answer to the general question. Or at least, I can see why people arguing the otherside of things might read it like that.

FTR: my answer would be, 1. I don't think there's much at my work place - but I'm a guy so I might well not see it, and I have seen the odd thing*. 2. I'm sure it does happen to greater and lesser extents else where. Why am I sure? Lots of women say it does and I don't think they're all making it up. And I know guys socially that are pretty sexist.

*Female policy analyst colleage mistaken for secretary. To be fair though, the guy doing the mistaking was weird, not respected by anyone, and very junior.
Post edited at 17:34
RomTheBear on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:
> I was expecting a response like that from you.

> As I stated, all of this could simply be a result of it being a largely female staffed environment so these traits were going to be observed mostly in women. Unfortunately they seemed almost exclusively confined to women.

> You don't like what you hear? Tough. I was asked my experience and you have it. As Anthroplogists discovered decades ago, if asking that question it is best to let the respondent have their own voice. Good for you on not having had the same experience - but you're apparent denial of others' is telling and unsurprising.

I don't deny your experience. I'm simply saying that it may well be the result of you seeing the world through your own beliefs. A bit like a deeply religious person will see the face of jesus in a piece of burnt toast. Our brains tend to pick on anything that seem to comfort deeply held reassuring beliefs and dismiss what contradicts them.
But maybe, just maybe, it's just a burnt toast.

> An obsession with sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling "It's not true! It's not true!" is why your arguments here get less and less engagement.

Where have I said it's not true ?
I've never said that you, or Dalmore, are wrong. I'm simply pointing the very obvious and gigantic flaws in his reasoning.

Personally I just don't know whether Dalmore is correct or not in his conclusions. I just observe that he doesn't have the proper evidence, nor the proper reasoning, to reach them.
Post edited at 17:52
Postmanpat on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> Great. There's probably little requirement then for identifying gender and trying to get a balance of them in the workplace then surely?
>
Not to take peoples race into account is apparently regarded by some as racist....

David Martin - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:
Working in teams with very few males, it's actually quite difficult to give first hand examples of behaviours or events that were offensive that didn't largely revolve around female staff unfortunately. With that went the feeling that complaining about these behaviours would likely leave you accused of being insensitive - such is the environment where being called "racist", "sexist", "tory" or told to "check your privilege" is an acceptable counter.

I did indeed avoid giving an answer to the general question. I am uncomfortable commenting on it as, while it clearly exists, I just don't know to what extent and my experience is quite the opposite of the general narrative. I think the Google case somewhat highlights the problem of perceptions of discrimination, to a poibt where we could be interpreting and identifying current levels of discrimination very poorly.

These days, i don't think I know guys who are could reasonably be described ad sexist. But I may set my benchmark a bit differently. For example, a good friend of mine (non-Jewish) is probably the most vocal proponent of Jews I know (more so than ferverent pro-israeli Zionist I climbed with) routinely singling them out above all others for their positive contributions to the world. At the same time, he will happily refer to people "being jewish" when tight with cash and won't hold back in his observations about the orthodox. Anyone listening in to our conversations at the wrong time might well claim I am friends with an anti-semite. I would say the opposite. Likewise, what some may view as casual sexism I might view as ironic humour.
Post edited at 17:55
edwardgrundy2 - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to Postmanpat:

> Not to take peoples race into account is apparently regarded by some as racist....

If there's systemic or subconcious racism, might it be possible to make things less racist by taking people's race into account?
edwardgrundy2 - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

Any chance of just getting a straight answer to the genereal question?

I don't know so I'm only willing to comment on my experience would be fine.
David Martin - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:

Done.
Postmanpat on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:

> If there's systemic or subconcious racism, might it be possible to make things less racist by taking people's race into account?

It might, but then again it might be possible to be racist by taking peoples' race into account. It's all jolly confusing.
RomTheBear on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:
> If there's systemic or subconcious racism, might it be possible to make things less racist by taking people's race into account?

I'd argue it's probably better to stop obsessing about race and gender all the time.
But maybe the situation is so bad that we need to actively collect stats on race and gender and actively try to correct the symptoms, if not the root, of racism and sexism ?

But then, when you do that, you end up with hordes of unsecure angry white males who feel it's so unfair... The law of unintended consequences.

If only there were easy solutions.
Post edited at 18:08
David Martin - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to edwardgrundy2:

> *Female policy analyst colleage mistaken for secretary. To be fair though, the guy doing the mistaking was weird, not respected by anyone, and very junior.

It's a bit of a classic case. I have no objection to the fact it is my bag that gets searched when coming through customs, and not the 70 year old grandma with the Zimmer frame. It's discrimination, but when trying to find the person with the bag of coke I'd choose me too.

I can kind of understand why someone would come to judgements on who the receptionist might be.

As somewhat of an aside, when I first arrived in the UK, with a typing speed of 70 words per minute and pretty advanced computer skills, all i could get was warehouse, labouring and construction work. I actually tried to get receptionist and secretarial work, because of the much better pay and conditions, but was told by a couple of agencies they were looking for women.
edwardgrundy2 - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

Cheers. I think, for the sake of productive discussion, it's generally better to just give the straight answer up front. I'm a bit of stickler for this kind of thing, though.
edwardgrundy2 - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> I have no objection to the fact it is my bag that gets searched when coming through customs,

Sure. Neither do I. But I probably would object to getting searched because I'm black. Or getting passed over for promotion because I'm a woman.

Jonny on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> It's a bit of a classic case. I have no objection to the fact it is my bag that gets searched when coming through customs, and not the 70 year old grandma with the Zimmer frame. It's discrimination, but when trying to find the person with the bag of coke I'd choose me too.

But that requires understanding distributions and statistics, which Sundar Pichai has decided that Google techies, not to speak of us commoners, are unfit to do.
edwardgrundy2 - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to Postmanpat:

> It might, but then again it might be possible to be racist by taking peoples' race into account. It's all jolly confusing.

Certainly. You seemed to suggest that people who thought not taking race into account was racist were obviously wrong. I was simply pointing out that in certain circumstances they'd be right.
RomTheBear on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to Jonny:
> But that requires understanding distributions and statistics, which Sundar Pichai has decided that Google techies, not to speak of us commoners, are unfit to do.

Distribution and statistics is exactly what lacks in support of Dalmore's conclusions.
Post edited at 19:08
3
Jonny on 17 Aug 2017
Perhaps we should also avoid lumping together past and future versions of a given person in terms of their desires and preferences, in which case it's goodbye to Adsense and targeted searches.

'My co-selves shouldn't have to worry that each time they open their browsers to type in a search, they have to prove that they are not like they were the other day, liking "mountains" rather than "creature comforts" showing an "interest in the outdoors" or being "adventurous".'

- Pundar Sichai
neilh - on 18 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:
The big issue with discrimination is pay differences. Clearly as you say from your experience there was a system in place to address this and you have worked in an environment where there was no pay discrimination between sexes.

I come at it from exactly the opposite spectrum where my wife was subject to clear pay discrimination.
Offwidth - on 18 Aug 2017
David Martin - on 18 Aug 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

He does come across as exhibiting a fair bit of neuroticism

"The recent memo – which argued that women’s high rates of “neuroticism” and “agreeableness” make them less qualified for tech jobs – has further exposed a mentality that some say is common among conservative white men in tech who believe affirmative action and gender equality initiatives are bad for businesses (despite research showing the opposite). James Damore, the author, was fired, turning him into an overnight hero to the “alt-right”."

Talk about cherry-picking then colouring Damore's support with a broad brush, eh?

Google has something like 70,000 employees. I'd give articles like these more credence if they relied less on "numbers of employees" coming forward to tell their stories and more on surveys of Google employees as a whole reporting if they felt discriminatory or unfair attitudes and practices were pervasive.
neilh - on 18 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

On th other hand you can also look at the US Depatment of Labour's analysis of the situtation which reportedly says there is an issue.
David Martin - on 18 Aug 2017
In reply to neilh:

> On th other hand you can also look at the US Depatment of Labour's analysis of the situtation which reportedly says there is an issue.

What do they say about Google?
Bob Hughes - on 18 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> What do they say about Google?

The DoL claims to have found "systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce.”

Google disputes this, of course.
RomTheBear on 18 Aug 2017
In reply to David Martin:

> Google has something like 70,000 employees. I'd give articles like these more credence if they relied less on "numbers of employees" coming forward to tell their stories and more on surveys of Google employees as a whole reporting if they felt discriminatory or unfair attitudes and practices were pervasive.

Indeed, it would be a good idea, isn't it, to rely on proper statistical evidence, instead of making things up.
David Martin - on 18 Aug 2017
In reply to Bob Hughes:

Oh, on the salary front I wouldn't be surprised one bit. I find the whole concept of negotiated salaries pretty crazy - someone who is comfortable or good at haggling gets paid more? Likely, according to traits mentioned before, to disproportionately impact women as well. Although I suspect the intra-gender variability may be even greater. The salary structure as a whole might be a more valid target than simply saying the average salary for women needs to brought in to line with that of men; what of the guy who earns $40k while the guy next to him earns $100k for the same job?

In my response to the link I was referring to the reports of "being made to feel worthless", "sexist comments" etc. They're pretty subjective, and using self selecting instances who contact a reporter is hardly reliable.

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.