I really was planning on leaving the Google story to scroll off the blog and be forgotten, but then this tweet fluttered past me, and now I’m right back in the game:
— James Damore (@Fired4Truth) August 10, 2017
Having worked in Silicon Valley most of my life I can honestly say that in my experience, women are under-represented in technology. I don’t think that there is any doubt about that. What seems to be in doubt is why it is the case that women and minorities eschew engineering.
(Elsewhere, I have opined on why the children of Silicon Valley engineers have not gone into technology, and yes, I think this is related.)
I think you can look at Exhibit A, the bro above, the now-fired author of the now-infamous memo, and you probably can take a guess why women are not flocking to tech, let alone to Google. His shirt is not just offensive to people who really are/were political prisoners in oppressive regimes, it shows a complete lack of empathy.
A GOOLAG? Seriously?
Dude has not been silenced (far from it), and no-doubt his career will continue. Anytime he wants, he can get off the cross. This is white male privilege on display.
He was undoubtedly pulling down a 6-figure salary (I don’t think that they offer less) and all the many other perks that Google gives their employees, which is *so oppressive to dude-bros like that*. And besides being overindulged and over compensated by Google, Googlers are told, incessantly, that they are the smartest people in the room. So in addition to having inflated salaries, the Googlers have hyper-inflated opinions of themselves.
So I am guessing dude went to diversity training, just like the commoners, and was offended. Dude decided to share his smartest-person-in-the-room opinion with his fellow Googlers, but make no mistake: it was directed at the not-smartest-people in the room, the HR Department. The nerve! Nerve! NERVE! to talk down to him about women and minorities!
Here’s the tell:
“I’ve heard several suggestions for increased empathy on diversity issues. While I strongly support trying to understand how and why people think the way they do, relying on affective empathy — feeling another’s pain — causes us to focus on anecdotes, favor individuals similar to us, and harbor other irrational and dangerous biases. Being emotionally unengaged helps us better reason about the facts.”
…and now he wears his Goolag shirt. Totally emotionally unengaged. Like a robot.
I am convinced that pretty much all of life is context. Being smart, even a genius, in one very narrow domain does not make you smart in other domains. Dude could be a genius by Google standards and still not know how to sort his clothes or do his own laundry (which he probably thinks is beneath him, anyway). His lack of diversity, his lack of perspective, and his lack of empathy are his blindspots.
And his blindspots nailed him to his own cross. Smartest guy in the room, indeed.