Monday, December 11, 2017
 
Google Programmer, In Ill-Advised Rant, Proves That Some 28-Year-Olds Still Aren’t Grownups

NEW YORK, NY Aug. 9 (DPI) – America’s culture wars got a fresh controversy this week when a young know-it-all software programmer wrote a long missive to his colleagues at Google declaring that the company’s diversity efforts were a waste of resources, and that women were biologically incapable of doing jobs like his.

The mainstream press – NYT, Washington Post, NPR, HuffPost, the television networks – all pounced Friday on what was described as an internal document, and which was widely read inside the company. All of the attention and publicity forced the powerful tech company to take a decisive public stand against not only the document but its author, a well educated and well credentialed 28-year-old engineer named James Damore.  Google fired Damore on Monday.

The document, which wades into long-sensitive territory on the matter of why more women are not employed as software programmers and engineers, became the focus of debate not only at the company but across the country. Damore claimed he supports the ideal of diversity and some of his views were fairly tame.  But he claimed that Google is an “ideological echo chamber” that doesn’t tolerate certain views, and he suggested that women weren’t cut out for being in high-stress engineering jobs because women, he said, were more prone to stress and neurosis.

That Google fired Damore a few days later itself set off a second debate – on whether Damore even had a right to write what he wrote.

Comment boards across the internet took flight on the subject, and many of the most popular comments pointed out that Damore had revealed himself as an immature and naive voice.

Among the most popular comments today on NYTimes.com:  “As a 65 year old professional woman I just rolled my eyes at James Damore. He’s 28 and clearly has not yet grown up. In his vast experience in the sheltered world of Silicon Valley he thinks he’s solved the mystery of few women in his field and it’s biological. James, you do have First Amendment rights and you can say what you like. Grown up lessons: words have consequences. Your employer does not have to employ you if they don’t want to. Complex issues rarely have simple answers and they are usually not related to biology.”

More popular comments on the New York Times site pointed out that Damore was fairly naive too to think such remarks would not trigger consequences for him:

Google isn’t the government and the First Amendment has no applicability here. Mr. Damore insulted his employer and his coworkers on company time with company resources.
Of course his first thought is legal action rather than accepting the stupidity of his act of sophomoric rebellion.  As a lawyer, I hope he gets a female judge and jury.

If Mr. Damore had not used biological determinism to underpin his argument against the efficacy of Google’s diversity programs his missive might have had some credibility. I can understand why Google would not want to retain an employee who doesn’t believe his fellow female coworkers are biologically capable of the work that they’d been hired to do.

Those who are shocked this guy got fired are missing the point. This is a job, not a public forum or college classroom. Everyone, in every workplace, has to behave with a certain level of decorum and use judgment about what he or she says. Anyone who deliberately insults and provokes coworkers and, especially, one’s bosses, risks being fired. People are fired every day for less than what Mr. Damone did. This is an HR issue, not a political one as the right portrays it. Google simply fired an immature employee who exhibits poor judgment and a bad attitude. This is not news!

It was pretty clear that once this became news inside and out, Google had to fire him. You don’t have a right to free speech as an employee – and when you say start explaining why women might not be as represented, well, you are clearly not thinking too clearly.

 

Mr. Damore’s memo is classic confirmation bias. As in “(1) I am here because I’m GREAT!” “(2) There aren’t more women here because they’re not like me, and everyone should be LIKE ME if they want to get ahead in tech because (see 1) I’m GREAT!” What Mr. Damore fails to see is that the immovable paradigm in his head – “being like me is the way to be good in tech, and women just aren’t like me” — is itself of course a bias. His entire memo is written around that idea. His other baseless assumptions – like that women don’t deal as well with stress and that women have a lower drive for status — are ridiculous but just highlight the fact that he is beyond redemption. He will live his entire life sure that he’s been discriminated against for being a GREAT male. Google should never have hired him.

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