In response to a politically incorrect document challenging Google to examine its “unconscious bias” and its “politically correct monoculture” on the grounds that women, in general, are different from men in general, Google’s offended female employees reportedly chose to stay home on Monday, because the memo made them “uncomfortable going back to work.”
This news, reported by NPR, proved multiple points made by Google’s now-former senior software engineer James Damore in his open letter to Google. The memo has been called an “anti-diversity screed,” despite its clear embrace of diversity. The heated reaction against it — and Google’s act of firing Damore for the document — proved many of his points correct.
The 3,300-word document is worth reading in its entirety, as it is a logical and scientific approach to re-examining the unconscious bias of diversity mania. But the document also notes generic differences between men and women — even while admitting that the differences do not apply to every man and every woman — which were on full display Monday.
Kelly Ellis, a software engineer who used to work for Google, told NPR that some women at the company stayed home on Monday specifically because the memo made them “uncomfortable going back to work.”
In the document, Damore suggested that “women on average are more cooperative” and “more prone to anxiety,” and that this often involves a search “for more work-life balance while men have a higher drive for status on average.”
What could demonstrate these arguments more clearly than women staying home (focusing on life over work and accepting a cut in status) in solidarity with other women (more cooperative) and feeling “uncomfortable” going back to work (more prone to anxiety)?
Indeed, NPR quoted Ellis as a sympathetic source, noting that “she left Google in 2014 after she was sexually harassed.” Ellis also reported feeling traumatized by seeing “similar language when I was at Google being shared on internal message boards and other different internal forums.”
Here’s the thing: Ellis refused to report the verbal sexual harassment she received at the time, posting it on Twitter only after she had left the company, and acknowledging she had no evidence to support her claims. She said Google “reprimanded me instead of him,” despite the fact she hadn’t reported the incident. Nowhere does Damore’s document dismiss sexual harassment or support the idea that women should be objectified.
Ironically, NPR’s favoring of Ellis’s viewpoint — and stigmatizing the document penned by Damore — proves yet another suggestion made in that document.
“In addition to the Left’s affinity for those it sees as weak, humans are generally biased towards protecting females,” Damore wrote in the document. “As mentioned before, this likely evolved because males are biologically disposable and because women are generally more cooperative and agreeable than men.”
This has led to a double standard and a willful blindness when it comes to discussions about gender disparity. “We have extensive government and Google programs, fields of study, and legal and social norms to protect women, but when a man complains about a gender issue affecting men, he’s labeled as a misogynist and a whiner,” Damore argued.
“Nearly every difference between men and women is interpreted as a form of women’s oppression,” he added. “As with many things in life, gender differences are often a case of ‘grass being greener on the other side’; unfortunately, taxpayer and Google money is being spent to water only one side of the lawn.”
Damore modestly called for a re-examination of the basic ideas underlying the gender gap, asking Google to “be open about the science of human nature.” He suggested that “once we acknowledge that not all differences are socially constructed or due to discrimination, we open our eyes to a more accurate view of the human condition which is necessary if we actually want to solve problems.”
In fact, Damore was open and fair when it comes to discussing implicit biases. He presented the biases of the Left (compassion for the weak, disparities are due to injustice, humans are cooperative, change is good) and those of the Right (respect for authority, disparities are natural, humans are competitive, change is dangerous), and explained that both sides need the other, but Google — and the culture of political correctness — emphasizes the Left biases over the Right, until they no longer seem like biases.
“We all have biases and use motivated reasoning to dismiss ideas that run counter to our internal values,” Damore explained. “Just as some on the Right deny science that runs counter to the ‘God > humans > environment’ hierarchy (e.g., evolution and climate change), the Left tends to deny science concerning biological differences between people (e.g. IQ and sex differences).” [While the science is not fully settled on evolution or climate change, the Right’s bias against these viewpoints is clear, even if that bias ends up being correct.]
“Thankfully, climate scientists and evolutionary biologists generally aren’t on the right,” Damore noted. [There are some very bad reasons for this, but his point stands.] “Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of humanities and social sciences lean left (about 95%), which creates enormous confirmation bias, changes what’s being studied, and maintains myths like social constructionism and the gender wage gap.”
“Google’s left leaning makes us blind to this bias and uncritical of its results, which we’re using to justify highly politicized programs,” Damore explained.
The manifesto was very fair, presenting the virtues of the Left biases and the Right biases, but warning against the dangers of imbalance. Damore was not arguing for Google to become a conservative company — he was arguing that it should have more intellectual diversity, correcting blind spots and maximizing value for everyone concerned.
The women employees at Google, by reacting the way they did, underscored his general points about men and women. Again, Damore only said that gender stereotypes explain the difference between the average man and the average woman — many men and women overlap on the spectrum.
In general, women focus more on empathy, work-life balance, and cooperation, while men focus more on leadership, things and ideas, and competition. “Status is the primary metric that men are judged on, pushing many men into these higher paying, less satisfying jobs for the status that they entail,” Damore argued.
Rather than just focusing on why women are less frequently in top leadership positions, he explained that “the same forces that lead men into high pay/his stress jobs in tech and leadership cause men to take undesirable and dangerous jobs like coal mining, garbage collection, and firefighting, and suffer 93% of work-related deaths.”
Men did not ditch work on Monday, even though many of them undoubtedly were disturbed to see a memo questioning their basic assumptions. Women did, and the reporting focused on them as victims, proving both of Damore’s points that women tend to be less competitive and that society tends to be protective of women.
Damore was not denouncing either of these trends as bad, but insisting that social sciences and companies like Google need to acknowledge them. Unfortunately, this reaction suggests both that Damore’s analysis was accurate and that it will fall on deaf ears.