Programmatic Lunch

Google employee anti-diversity memo causes heated debate

Tyrone Stewart

GoogleA Google employee has caused a storm both within and outside the company with his views that the lack of women in high ranking tech jobs was due to biological differences between men and women.

The internal memo, which was published in full by Gizmodo, takes the usual ‘I’m not sexist but’ approach that people use before they’re going to say something, well, sexist.

“I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership,” the male software engineer writes, adding that “we need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism”.

The, I would guess soon-to-be unemployed, Google engineer attributes the imbalance between men and women in the top jobs to men, supposedly, having more drive than women because “these positions often require long, stressful hours that may not be worth it if you want a balanced and fulfilling life” – a contradictory statement, if I ever heard one.

The employee also, helpfully, lists suggestions for how Google can improve gender diversity – because he’s all for it – by considering the personality differences between men and women. These personality differences apparently include women focusing more on feelings and aesthetics than ideas, women preferring social and artistic jobs as opposed to ‘man’ things like coding, women not being able to be assertive and not being able to negotiate salaries, and higher levels of anxiety. He also questions racial diversity schemes. Seems like a great guy.

The questionable views of man in question prompted Google’s new VP of diversity, integrity & governance, Danielle Brown, to send an internal email stressing that “it’s not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages”.

“Diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of our values and the culture we continue to cultivate,” she continued. “We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company, and we'll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul.”

Google released its diversity figures in June, showing that 69 per cent of its employees are male and 56 per cent are white. Though these figures rise to 75 per cent and 68 per cent respectively in leadership positions.

The figures did show signs of improvement, however. The number of women in leadership roles grew to 25 per cent up from 21 per cent three years ago – not a massive improvement, but one nonetheless.  

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