Over the weekend James Damore, a software engineer at Google, shared a 10-page manifesto in which he argues that men are scientifically predisposed to being better leaders, better at technology and better Google employees.
Damore confirmed in an email to Reuters on Monday that he had been fired for "perpetuating gender stereotypes," but his controversial memo — and subsequent termination — has sparked a contentious discussion on sexism in the workplace, drawing commentary from those in the tech industry and beyond.
Here's what six leaders had to say about the arguments the former Google employee advanced:
In a LinkedIn post, Wharton's Adam Grant eviscerated the Google memo, using his academic background to deconstruct Damore's mathematical conclusions and explain that the differences between men and women are slim to none.
"It's always precarious to make claims about how one-half of the population differs from the other half — especially on something as complicated as technical skills and interests. But I think it's a travesty when discussions about data devolve into name-calling and threats. As a social scientist, I prefer to look at the evidence," Grant writes.
"Across 128 domains of the mind and behavior, '78 percent of gender differences are small or close to zero.'" The only major differences, he says, are related to physical stature and sexual proclivities.
In an op-ed for The New York Times, Brandeis University professor of Social Policy, Law, and Women's Studies Anita Hill characterized the Google memo as an unveiling of the true nature of the tech industry.
She writes, "The recent leak of a Google engineer's screed against the company's diversity initiatives is a reminder that the notion of Silicon Valley as the seat of human progress is a myth — at least when it comes to way the women behind the latest in technology are treated."
Hill argues that the tech industry has been hiding behind a false veil of progressivism and that this memo serves as a revelation that should encourage class action lawsuits to fight discrimination.
"The tech industry is stuck in the past, more closely resembling 'Mad Men'-era Madison Avenue or 1980s Wall Street than a modern egalitarian society. It may take the force of our legal system to change that," she writes.
Beck argues that firing Damore for authoring the memo is a form of discrimination and equates being fired with slavery.
"How do you fix discrimination with discrimination?" he asks. "That's like, 'We're going to stop all these slave owners. We're going to enslave all the slave owners. And the slaves can own the slave owners.'"
Google's new Vice President of Diversity, Integrity & Governance, Danielle Brown, wrote a response to Damore's memo saying that it "advanced incorrect assumptions about gender" and that "it's not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages."
She also added that it is important that Google employees "feel safe sharing their opinions. But that discourse needs to work alongside the principles of equal employment found in our Code of Conduct, policies and anti-discrimination laws."
Technology journalist and Recode co-founder Kara Swisher has followed the controversy closely. When Eric Weinstein, managing director of Thiel Capital, took to Twitter to complain about Damore being fired, Swisher swiftly responded.
Weinstein carped that Google should, "Stop teaching my girl that her path to financial freedom lies not in coding but in complaining to HR."
Swisher responded to Weinstein's tweet saying, "Stop teaching my boys that their path to decency lies not in coding but in denigrating women."
Google CEO Sundar Pichai cut a family vacation short to address the controversy. In an email to Google employees on Monday Pichai wrote: "Our job is to build great products for users that make a difference in their lives. To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK."
The CEO says that this is just the beginning of a larger conversation. "Clearly there's a lot more to discuss as a group," he wrote. "Including how we create a more inclusive environment for all."
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