Ex-Google en­gi­neer be­gan memo on flight

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Ellen Huet

Ex-Google en­gi­neer James Damore says prob­lems with the com­pany’s cul­ture prompted him to write the memo on gen­der dif­fer­ences that ig­nited a so­cial me­dia firestorm and led to his dis­missal.

Damore, who went from em­ployee to out­cast upon the memo’s cir­cu­la­tion, said in his first pub­lic com­ments that he penned the doc­u­ment out of a love for Al­pha­bet Inc.’s Google. Damore was a soft­ware en­gi­neer at the search gi­ant’s Moun­tain View head­quar­ters un­til Mon­day af­ter­noon, when he said he was fired for “per­pet­u­at­ing gen­der stereo­types.” His mis­sive — pub­lished in­ter­nally to Google em­ploy­ees late last week — ar­gued that con­ser­va­tive view­points are sup­pressed at the com­pany and bi­o­log­i­cal dif­fer­ences ex­plain in part why more men work in soft­ware en­gi­neer­ing than women.

“A lot of this came from me see­ing some of the prob­lems with our cul­ture at Google, where a lot of peo­ple who weren’t in this group-think just felt to­tally iso­lated and alien­ated,” he told YouTube chat-show host Ste­fan Molyneux in an in­ter­view posted on­line. “There were many peo­ple that came to me and said, ‘yeah I’m think­ing of leav­ing Google be­cause this is get­ting so bad.”’

“I re­ally thought this was a prob­lem Google had to fix,” he added.

Damore had stayed largely silent, only con­firm­ing to a few news out­lets why he be­lieved he was fired and that he was cur­rently ex­plor­ing le­gal reme­dies. In the video, the soft­ware en­gi­neer re­vealed he cre­ated the doc­u­ment — started on a 12-hour flight dur­ing a work trip to China — af­ter at­tend­ing a “se­cre­tive” di­ver­sity train­ing ses­sion that rubbed him the wrong way.

“There was a lot of just sham­ing: ‘no, you can’t say that. That’s sex­ist.’ There’s just so much hypocrisy in a lot of the things that they were say­ing,” he said on the video. “I de­cided to cre­ate the doc­u­ment to clar­ify my thoughts.”

Many in Sil­i­con Val­ley de­nounced Damore’s ar­gu­ments, in­clud­ing Google Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Sun­dar Pichai, who said Mon­day in a memo to em­ploy­ees that the en­gi­neer’s man­i­festo vi­o­lated Google’s Code of Con­duct.

But oth­ers — mainly right-wing groups — agreed with his de­scrip­tion of a “po­lit­i­cally cor­rect mono­cul­ture” and in par­tic­u­lar, saw Google’s de­ci­sion to fire him for voic­ing an un­pop­u­lar opin­ion as prov­ing ex­actly his point. Ju­lian As­sange tweeted that Wik­iLeaks would hire Damore, adding “Cen­sor­ship is for losers.” Gab.ai, a far­right so­cial net­work, also of­fered Damore a job, call­ing his writ­ing “a beau­ti­ful work of art.” Other sup­port­ers raised more than $5,000 on a crowd­fund­ing cam­paign to help Damore fight his fir­ing.

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