Google employee’s ‘sexist’ note stirs debate

Senior management rebukes view

August 07, 2017 10:32 pm | Updated 10:32 pm IST - New York

Google is at the centre of controversy after an employee in a leaked internal document claimed “biological causes” explained the lack of women in tech industry leadership roles.

The screed — dubbed “sexist” by US media — went viral, reviving the simmering debate over a culture of sexism and lack of diversity in tech sectors.

“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,” read the 3,000-word commentary by an anonymous male software engineer. He said natural aptitudes of men allow them to become better computer programmers. Women, he said, have more “openness directed towards feelings and aesthetics rather than ideas” — meaning they “prefer jobs in social or artistic areas.”

Diversity V-P responds

In response to the leaked memo, Danielle Brown, Google’s new vice-president of diversity, told employees in an email that “it’s not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages.”

“I found that it advanced incorrect assumptions about gender,” she said. “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... Changing a culture is hard, and it’s often uncomfortable.”

Ms. Brown added, however, that “part of building an open, inclusive environment means fostering a culture in which those with alternative views, including different political views, feel safe sharing their opinions.”

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