Google Fires Engineer Over Gender Manifesto

Google terminates the engineer who wrote a ten-page memo criticizing the company's diversity practices and blaming gender imbalance on psychological differences.

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

August 8, 2017

2 Min Read
Google Fires Engineer Over Gender Manifesto

Google has identified and fired the engineer who wrote a controversial ten-page internal memo perpetuating gender stereotypes, claiming women weren't biologically suited for engineering roles and disparaging the company's diversity efforts.

Bloomberg reports that Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) CEO Sundar Pichai told employees Monday that the memo violated the company's code of conduct and crossed the line "by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace." The engineer, James Damore, confirmed to Bloomberg he had been let go and that he's "currently exploring all possible legal remedies."

Damore's memo, which can be read in full on Gizmodo, said -- among many things -- that women aren't under-represented in tech because of bias or discrimination, but because of inherent psychological differences between the genders. The real alienation that happens at Google, he claims, is against conservative men. He called for Google to stop restricting some of its diversity programs to women and to rethink its own biases.

The post incited outrage across the tech universe, but also encouraged some to speak up in agreement. Damore claims he got private messages from many "fellow Googlers expressing their gratitude for bringing up these very important issues which they agree with but would never have the courage to say or defend because of our shaming culture and the possibility of being fired."

Join Women in Comms for its upcoming networking breakfast in Denver, Colorado, on September 28, where we'll be tackling the question: "What's the matter with the tech industry?"

Damore's memo forced Google's new vice president of Diversity, Integrity & Goverance Danielle Brown, hired in June from Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), to introduce herself sooner than she planned. She spoke out against the memo, saying that it advanced incorrect assumptions about gender. She also acknowledged, however, that Google has to foster a culture in which those with "alternative views" feel safe sharing their opinions, but she also said that they have to "work alongside the principles of equal employment found in our Code of Conduct, policies and anti-discrimination laws" -- leaving room to let Damore go, as they ultimately did.

All of this is coming to light as there is heightened attention and scrutiny around the tech industry's treatment of women, spurred on by revelations of sexism and worse at Uber. Google, in particular, is also under investigation by the US Department of Labor for alleged inequitable pay across genders, which it has claimed to be inaccurate. (See Uber Does Housekeeping Amongst CEO Strategizing, Google Ordered to Turn Over Some Pay Details and Google Shares Gender-Blind Pay Policies.)

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Director, Women in Comms

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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