Google VP de­nounces memo’s views on fe­male work­ers

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - BUSINESS - BY BAR­BARA ORTUTAY

Google’s new head of di­ver­sity has re­jected an in­ter­nal com­men­tary from a male em­ployee who sug­gested women don’t get ahead in tech jobs be­cause of bi­o­log­i­cal dif­fer­ences.

The duelling memos come as Sil­i­con Val­ley grap­ples with ac­cu­sa­tions of sex­ism and dis­crim­i­na­tion. Google is also in the midst of a Depart­ment of La­bor in­ves­ti­ga­tion into whether it pays women less than men. Google, Face­book and Uber have said they are try­ing to im­prove hir­ing and work­ing con­di­tions for women.

Danielle Brown, who joined Google as a vice-pres­i­dent a few weeks ago, said Google is “un­equiv­o­cal in our be­lief that di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion are crit­i­cal to our suc­cess.”

“Strong stands elicit strong re­ac­tions. Chang­ing a cul­ture is hard, and it’s of­ten un­com­fort­able. But I firmly be­lieve Google is do­ing the right thing, and that’s why I took this job,” Brown wrote in a memo to em­ploy­ees.

The em­ployee memo, which gained at­ten­tion on­line over the week­end, is ti­tled “Google’s Ide­o­log­i­cal Echo Cham­ber.” It be­gins by say­ing that only hon­est dis­cus­sion will ad­dress a lack of eq­uity. But it also as­serts that women “pre­fer jobs in so­cial and artis­tic ar­eas” while more men “may like cod­ing be­cause it re­quires sys­tem­iz­ing.”

The memo, which was shared on the tech blog Giz­modo, at­tributes bi­o­log­i­cal dif­fer­ences be­tween men and women to the rea­son why “we don’t have 50% rep­re­sen­ta­tion of women in tech and lead­er­ship.” It crit­i­cizes Google for of­fer­ing men­tor­ing and other pro­grams for women and mi­nori­ties and for what it calls “spe­cial treat­ment” of job can­di­dates who are women or un­der­rep­re­sented mi­nori­ties.

The em­ployee was de­scribed in news re­ports as a soft­ware en­gi­neer. The em­ployee’s iden­tity has not been re­leased.

Google, like other tech com­pa­nies, has far fewer women than men in tech­nol­ogy and lead­er­ship po­si­tions.

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