5 Things to Know About James Damore's Google Manifesto
On Monday, senior software engineer James Damore was fired from Google after a memo criticizing the company's "ideological echo chamber" that he posted internally became public this weekend. This story has created a great deal of controversy and has been badly misrepresented by many media outlets.
Here are five things to know about James Damore's "manifesto."
1. Blasting open the "ideological echo chamber."
Contrary to many reports, Damore's manifesto actually championed diversity — but he mostly focused on ideological diversity, in addition to sexual diversity. He accused Google of having a close-minded culture that "shames into silence" opposing views, creating "an ideological echo chamber where some ideas are too sacred to be honestly discussed."
Damore's document is worth reading in its entirety, but his central call is for ideological diversity — for open dialogue between conflicting viewpoints. 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.
Google — and the culture of political correctness in general — emphasizes the Left biases over the Right, until they no longer seem like biases, Damore warned. "We all have biases and use motivated reasoning to dismiss ideas that run counter to our internal values."
The former software engineer pointed out the Right's biases against evolution and climate change (since these theories allegedly run counter to the "God > humans > environment" hierarchy), and the Left's biases in denying biological differences between men and women. While climate scientists and evolutionary biologists tend not to be on the Right, "the overwhelming majority of humanities and social sciences lean left (about 95%)," he argued.
This imbalance "creates enormous confirmation bias, changes what's being studied, and maintains myths like social constructionism and the gender wage gap," Damore wrote. "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's manifesto focused on how this ideological slant blinds Google on the issue of why women aren't more represented in STEM fields. "Nearly every difference between men and women is interpreted as a form of women's oppression," he explained. "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 argued that women tend to focus more on empathy, work-life balance, and cooperation, while men focus more on leadership, things they can control, and competition.
"The same forces that lead men into high pay/ high 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," he argued. This is because "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."
Contrary to "intersectionality" theory, there are many reasons that can explain the gender imbalance in programming, without resorting to the alleged oppression of the dreaded "Patriarchy."