Google Manifesto

Google Manifesto

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Updated Jan 16, 2020 at 09:27AM EST by Y F.

Added Aug 06, 2017 at 11:47AM EDT by Don.

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Overview

Google Manifesto, also known as the Google Memo, refers to a controversial anti-affirmative action document sent by former Google engineer James Damore, who argued that the gender disparity in the tech industry could be partially caused by biological differences between men and women, rather than discriminatory hiring practices.

Background

In early August 2017, a software engineer at Google sent an internal document titled "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber," which argued that men may be more driven toward technology industry jobs due to biological differences between men and women. That day, Motherboard[1] reported that the manifest had gone "internally viral." Shorlty after, Gizmodo[3] published the manifesto. The

Reply to public response and misrepresentation

I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don’t endorse using stereotypes. When addressing the gap in representation in the population, we need to look at population level differences in distributions. If we can’t have an honest discussion about this, then we can never truly solve the problem. Psychological safety is built on mutual respect and acceptance, but unfortunately our culture of shaming and misrepresentation is disrespectful and unaccepting of anyone outside its echo chamber. Despite what the public response seems to have been, I’ve gotten many personal messages from fellow Googlers expressing their gratitude for bringing up these very important issues which they agree with but would never have the courage to say or defend because of our shaming culture and the possibility of being fired. This needs to change.

TL;DR

* Google’s political bias has equated the freedom from offense with psychological safety, but shaming into silence is the antithesis of psychological safety.
* This silencing has created an ideological echo chamber where some ideas are too sacred to be honestly discussed.
* The lack of discussion fosters the most extreme and authoritarian elements of this ideology.
* Extreme: all disparities in representation are due to oppression
* Authoritarian: we should discriminate to correct for this oppression
* Differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don’t have 50% representation of women in tech and leadership. Discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive, and bad for business.

Developments

On August 5th, Motherboard published an article containing Google employee responses to the memo on the anonymous discussion app Blind, which ranged from condemnation to support. Additionally, some users on Blind claimed Google management demanded employees be "ideologically aligned with the majority" or be "labeled a 'poor cultural fit'", preventing them from being hired or promoted.

Google's Response

That day, Google's Vice President of Diversity, Integrity and Governance Danielle Brown sent a memo to Google staff regarding the document:

Googlers,

I'm Danielle, Google's brand new VP of Diversity, Integrity & Governance. I started just a couple of weeks ago, and I had hoped to take another week or so to get the lay of the land before introducing myself to you all. But given the heated debate we've seen over the past few days, I feel compelled to say a few words.

Many of you have read an internal document shared by someone in our engineering organization, expressing views on the natural abilities and characteristics of different genders, as well as whether one can speak freely of these things at Google. And like many of you, I found that it advanced incorrect assumptions about gender. I'm not going to link to it here as 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. 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. As Ari Balogh said in his internal G+ post, "Building an open, inclusive environment is core to who we are, and the right thing to do. 'Nuff said. "

Google has taken a strong stand on this issue, by releasing its demographic data and creating a company wide OKR on diversity and inclusion. Strong stands elicit strong reactions. Changing a culture is hard, and it's often uncomfortable. But I firmly believe Google is doing the right thing, and that's why I took this job.

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. But that discourse needs to work alongside the principles of equal employment found in our Code of Conduct, policies, and anti-discrimination laws.

I've been in the industry for a long time, and I can tell you that I've never worked at a company that has so many platforms for employees to express themselves--TGIF, Memegen, internal G+, thousands of discussion groups. I know this conversation doesn't end with my email today. I look forward to continuing to hear your thoughts as I settle in and meet with Googlers across the company.

Thanks,

Danielle


Online Reaction

On Twitter, many condemned the manifesto as bigoted while others defended it as reasonable and based on scientific evidence. Google developer Andrew Bonventre tweeted that the document was a "garbage fire" and "trash" in response to a female engineer's tweet about the memo (shown below, left).[5] Meanwhile, many evolutionary psychologists defended the scientific claims made in the memo, including professor Geoffery Miller (shown below, right).


Sarah Adams @sadams007 Aug 4 day describing how gen due to biological differences btwn men/women. Andrew Bonventre @andybons Replying to @sadams007 @rakyll @copyconstruct That garbage fire of a document is trash and you are wonderful coworkers who I am extremely lucky to work with Geoffrey Miller @primalpoly Google HR: There are no sex difference:s' Google AdWords: You bought books or programming? Here are ads for GQ magazine and Cialis + TARGETING Display keywords Placements Topics Interests & remarketing Demographics Demographics Impressions Age Parental status 18.2 % 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65 or more Unknown 9% 9% 12% 24% ■ Male ■ Female ■ Parent ■ 16% 74% 10% 40% 29% Not a parent 15% Unknown 13% GenderAge Parental status

Additionally, evolutionary psychologist Diane Fleischman tweeted at Gizmodo asking why they removed hyperlinks and charts cited as sources in the manifesto (shown below).[4]


Diana S. Fleischman @sentientist @Gizmodo, why'd you call this an "anti-diversity screed"? Why did you remove hyperlinks and charts used as evidence?gizmodo.com/exclusive-here...

Meanwhile, ex Google engineer Yonatan Zunger posted an article on Medium[6] condemning the manifesto, in which he claimed he would have fired the engineer and escorted him off the premises for authoring the memo if he were in the engineer's "reporting chain." Additionally, he accused of the author of creating a "hostile workplace environment" that might lead others to "simply punch you in the face."

Scientists' Response

On August 7th, the news site Quilette[7] published a response to the memo written by several prominent scientists, including social psychology professor Lee Jussim, personal psychology professor David P. Schmitt, evolutionary psychology professor Geoffrey Miller and neuroscientist Debra W. Soh. In his evaluation of the empirical claims made by Damore, Jussim concluded that “The author of the Google essay on issues related to diversity gets nearly all of the science and its implications exactly right.” Geoffery Miller stated "For what it’s worth, I think that almost all of the Google memo’s empirical claims are scientifically accurate." In the coming days, the site was inaccessible due to a DDoS attack.[8]

James Damore's Termination

On August 7th, Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent out a company-wide memo addressing the controversial document, which accused Damore of violating Google's code of conduct against “advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.” That day, Damore was fired from Google.

News Media Coverage

On August 8th, The Globe and Mail[13] published an article by neuroscientist Debra Soh titled "No, the Google manifesto isn't sexist or anti-diversity. It's science." On August 9th, an article titled "Here's your point by point refutation of the Google memo" was submitted to Medium[10] by an anonymous author. Meanwhile, the news site Slate[12] published an article titled "Stop Equating 'Science' With Truth," which condemned the field of evolutionary psychology as "shoddy science." On August 10th, NY Daily News[9] published an op-ed by moral philosopher Peter Singer titled "Why Google Was Wrong," which argued in favor of Damore's claims in the memo. On August 11th, The New York Times[11] published an op-ed by David Brooks, which argued that Google CEO Sundar Pichai should resign for terminating Damore.

Damore's Responses

On August 8th, Damore was interviewed by YouTuber Stefan Molyneux, during which he discussed his termination and the online reaction to the controversy (shown below, left). The following day, Professor Jordan Peterson uploaded another interview with Damore (shown below, right).



On August 9th, Bloomberg Technology uploaded an interview with Damore, who claimed he felt betrayed by the company for attempting to open an honest discussion (shown below, left). On August 11th, The Daily Wire YouTube channel uploaded footage of political commentator Ben Shapiro interviewing Damore (shown below, right).



KKK Tweets

On September 20th, 2017, Damore tweeted a poll saying "The KKK is horrible and I don't support them in any way, but can we admit that their internal title names are cool, e.g. "Grand Wizard"? (shown below).


James Damore @JamesADamore The KKK is horrible and I don't support them in any way, but can we admit that their internal title names are cool, e.g. "Grand Wizard"? ○Yes No, the names aren't cool ONo, that's racist O No, other Vote 666 votes 3 days left

Shortly after, Damore posted several tweets in defense of the poll, arguing "If you make the actual KKK the only place where you can acknowledge the coolness of D&D terms, then you’ll just push people into the KKK" (shown below).


James Damore @JamesADamore 21h Replying to @JamesADamore You know you've moralized an issue when you can't criticize its heroes or acknowledge any positive aspect of its villains. 283 t177 964 James Damore @JamesADamore 21h addressing the fact that they can be fun. It's like teaching your child to be responsible about drugs and sex without 199 74。605 James Damore @JamesADamore If you make the actual KKK the only place where you can acknowledge the coolness of D&D terms, then you'll just push people into the KKK.

That day, a post linking to tweets was submitted to /r/GamerGhazi[15] in a post titled "James Damore, it probably was a good idea Google fired you." Meanwhile, Twitter user @ManuclearBomb posted the tweets within an Expanding Brain template image (shown below). Within 24 hours, the tweet gathered upwards of 10,300 likes and 3,100 retweets.[16]


10) The KKK is horrible and I don't support them in any way, but can we admit that their internal title names are cool, eg. "Grand Wizard? O Yes No, the names aren't cool ONo, that's racist No, other Vote 3,214 votes 3 days left 0 James Damore @jamesADamore-25m You know you've moralized an issue when you can't criticize its heroes or acknowledge any positive aspect of its villains James Damore@JamesADamore 6m 0 It's like teaching your child to be responsible about drugs and sex without addressing the fact that they can be fur 0 James Damore Follow eJamesADamore If you make the actual KKK the only place where you can acknowledge the coolness of D&D terms, then you'll just push people into the KKK 9:54 AM-20 Sep 2017 4 Retweets 47 Likes

Following the online backlash, Damore removed the poll and posted a series of tweets explaining his reasoning, noting "in retrospect though, a Twitter poll was likely not the best way to spark the conversation on this rightfully sensitive issue" (shown below).


James Damore @JamesADamore 17h 1/3: My attempt to raise the issue of why some people are attracted to pure evil like the KKK gave many the wrong impression. 9326 62 ㅇ 606 9 James Damore @JamesADamore 17h 2/3: Understanding what attracts some people to these vile organizations can help us better prevent that from happening. James Damore @JamesADamore 3/3: In retrospect though, a Twitter poll was likely not the best way to spark the conversation on this rightfully sensitive issue.

Lawsuit

On January 8th, 2018, the full court document was uploaded to the file-sharing site Scribd[18] outlining a class action lawsuit by Damore and former Google engineer David Gudeman against Google, claiming the company discriminated against them for their conservative political views, race and gender. Shortly after the document was released, Twitter user mjaeckel posted several tweets featuring screenshots and other materials from the lawsuit, including reports of secret blacklists, discussions about censoring certain academic search results and "toxic whiteness."[22]

That day, Tucker Carlson tweeted a link to the full lawsuit document, along with a followup noting that “an employee who sexually identifies as a 'yellow-scaled wingless dragonkin' and 'an expansive ornate building' presented a talk entitled 'Living as a Plural Being' at an internal company event” (shown below).[19]


Tucker Carlson @TuckerCarlson Page 27, Footnote 3: "For instance, arn employee who sexually identifies as 'a yellow-scaled wingless dragonkin' and 'an expansive ornate building' presented a talk entitled Living as a Plural Being' at an internal company event

Also on January 8th, Gizmodo writer Kate Conger tweeted several quotes from Damore's lawyer taken from a press conference, which included a statement regarding Google employee's circulation of memes about "punching Nazis," followed by the quote "Google similarly has a motto, don’t be evil. That’s Google’s motto. And yet there is nothing more evil than telling people like James you want to punch them."[20]


kate conger @kateconger 17m At his press conference, Damore's lawyer says he included feedback from 200 Google employees in his memo kate conger@kateconger 16m "What James was doing was challenging some of the orthodoxy at Google."- Harmeet Dhillon, Damore's lawyer kate conger @kateconger 11m Dhllon says she was shocked by "Lord of the Flies" mentality where Googlers freely circulate memes about punching Nazis I'm sorry but Imao kate conger@kateconger 5m "Google similarly has a motto, don't be evil. That's Google's motto. And yet there is nothing more evil than telling people like James you want to punch them. 2

That evening, an article about the lawsuit titled "Alex Jones Is Reportedly Banned From Google" was published by the news site NYMag.[21]

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