Why Did Google Freak Out and Fire an Employee for Spurring ‘Honest Discussion’?
Genevieve Wood /
The tolerance police at Google just struck another blow against increasing diversity in Silicon Valley by firing an employee who wrote a memo critiquing the company’s politically correct culture.
Now, let’s be clear: While the Google software engineer who authored the memo had the right to say and write what he did—it’s called free speech—Google is a private company and has every right to fire an employee it deems not in line with its mission or culture.
But it’s fair to ask why Google reacted so negatively to an employee who, in a 10-page memo, laid out a case for why Google’s diversity programs weren’t working and how it might rethink its attempt to reduce the gender gap.
>>> Related: Female Leaders Say Google ‘Intolerant’ in Firing Engineer for Memo on Gender Differences
Could it be that Google is feeling just a little bit paranoid?
For all the talk about inclusiveness and diversity, here’s the reality:
If you’re not white or Asian, that means there is only a 5 percent chance you’re part of Google’s leadership team.
And while 31 percent of Google’s employees are women, only 20 percent of its technical employees are—and it was primarily the memo’s focus on this gender gap that seems to have caused the recent unpleasantness in Silicon Valley.
In addition to bad PR, perhaps what the larger left-leaning community there doesn’t want to admit is that for all its diversity programs and safe spaces, and who knows how many millions of dollars spent promoting them, they have done very little to change the outcomes.
When it comes to computer and mathematical occupations, the numbers clearly show that women and men are not equally represented.
Women held 27 percent of such jobs in 1960. Thirty years later, they held 35 percent. But fast forward to 2013, and the number of women in computing and mathematical occupations had fallen back to 26 percent.
And it’s not because fewer women are going to college.
In fact, a Department of Education study from 2014 shows more women than men are attending and graduating from college, and they are receiving the majority of bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees.
But when it comes to college majors, women and men choose differently. A recent Georgetown University study showed over 80 percent of petroleum engineering majors are male. So are almost 70 percent of those majoring in mathematics and computer science.
Women, on the other hand, tend to major in what might be called more people-oriented professions, such as counseling, education, and social work.
Why men and women make such different choices is not 100 percent clear cut, but the idea that biology plays no role and it’s all because America is a sexist culture seems like an outdated and disproven theory.
And it was hiring and personnel practices based on that politically correct theory that the now-former Google employee was criticizing.
As he stated in the memo that got him fired: “If we can’t have an honest discussion about this, then we can never truly solve the problem.”
Apparently at Google, and much of Silicon Valley, the discussion is over.