G-male? Fol­low­ing memo, Google ex­ec­u­tive de­nounces en­gi­neer’s views on fe­male work­ers

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Bar­bara Ortutay

NEW YORK» A memo writ­ten by a male en­gi­neer at Google about gen­der dif­fer­ences sparked a quick re­but­tal from Google af­ter it cir­cu­lated widely on­line.

Google CEO Sun­dar Pichai de­nounced the memo in an email on Mon­day for “ad­vanc­ing harm­ful gen­der stereo­types” and said he was cut­ting short a va­ca­tion to hold a town hall with staff Thurs­day. The en­gi­neer, James Damore, was fired, ac­cord­ing to Bloomberg News, which cited an email from him. An email sent to an ad­dress be­lieved to be used by Damore was not re­turned; Google de­clined to com­ment.

The en­gi­neer’s widely shared memo, ti­tled “Google’s Ide­o­log­i­cal Echo Cham­ber,” crit­i­cized Google for push­ing men­tor­ing and di­ver­sity pro­grams and for “alien­at­ing con­ser­va­tives.”

Google’s just-hired head of di­ver­sity, Danielle Brown, re­sponded with her own memo, say­ing Google is “un­equiv­o­cal in our be­lief that di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion are crit­i­cal to our suc­cess.” She said change is hard and “of­ten un­com­fort­able.”

The bat­tling mes­sages 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, while Uber’s CEO re­cently lost his job amid ac­cu­sa­tions of wide­spread sex­ual ha­rass­ment and dis­crim­i­na­tion.

Lead­ing tech com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Google, Face­book and Uber, have said they are try­ing to im­prove hir­ing and work­ing con­di­tions for women. But di­ver­sity num­bers are barely chang­ing.

The Google em­ployee memo, which gained at­ten­tion on­line dur­ing the week­end, 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.”

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