Google Firing Engineer: Thoughts?


It’s more like Cueball here:


Thank you for clarifying what you find troubling.

I think it is understandable that you reached that conclusion. When I read this memo, I had to step back a bit and start asking myself things.

What is the context of the statements (there were more than one for me)?
Is the statement an expression of fact or speculation?
How does it fit into the overall context of the document?
What seems to be the intent of the document?

I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, mostly because I have appreciated it when that courtesy was extended to me. I would be interested to hear your thoughts of those questions.


Thanks for clarifying. I think we are getting somewhere. Here’s his statement again. It would be helpful to understand where the difference of opinion lies. So let’s break it down:

cmgbeyer: apologies if this seems laboured, but could you tell me which of the following statements in each set best represents your view?

A) Men and women, considered as groups, have different distributions of preferences on no topics at all - their preferences are entirely identical in every respect.
B) Men and women, considered as groups, have different distributions of preferences on some topics, but those topics do not include job choice.
C) Men and women, considered as groups, have different distributions of preferences on some topics, and those topics include job choices.

A) Men and women, considered as groups, have different distributions of abilities on no topics at all - their abilities are entirely identical in every respect.
B) Men and women, considered as groups, have different distributions of abilities in some areas, but those areas do not include ability in any job.
C) Men and women, considered as groups, have different distributions of abilities in some areas, and those areas include ability in some jobs, but not in computer programming.
D) Men and women, considered as groups, have different distributions of abilities in some areas, and those areas include ability in some jobs, including computer programming.

If you answered anything other than A) to 1):

A) Those preference differences have no biological basis whatsoever.
B) Those preference differences have, at least in part, a biological basis.

If you answered anything other than A) to 2):

A) Those ability differences have no biological basis whatsoever.
B) Those ability differences have, at least in part, a biological basis.

If you would be kind enough to do that, I think it might become clear exactly where the disagreement lies.

(I also think there are some problems with your chain of “Ergo” logic, but this message is already long enough, so we’ll leave that for later. :slight_smile:



But surely the existence of the diversity program is the problem there, not what he said about it. If there was no diversity program and women were at Google then the only way that they could have reached their position is through their own ability, thus being James’ EXACT point about why quotas for this stuff suck.

IMHO, diversity quotas are bad for capable men (since they can’t get the jobs that their ability should give them) but it also is bad for capable women since it opens up the vector of just being a diversity hire, even if they were the best available candidate.


I definitely agree with James’ document and find most of the social constructionists’ views laughable at this point.
As to arguments that he shouldn’t have brought it up: google talks constantly about having an open culture and encourages its employees to discuss ideas (or at least they try to pimp themselves as such). Talks and meetings are recorded for any employee to review later as they please, but (not)surprisingly their diversity meeting wasn’t.
After that meeting he wrote a pretty accurate memo representing the modern scientific literature on the subject relating to differences between men and women, personality traits, but also questioning google’s biases, and criticizing their diversity policies that are unquestionably producing discriminatory hiring practices. It was only shared to be discussed with a “skeptics” group on their internal google+ page.
According to James their culture has constantly silenced views that go against their political agenda and his firing only proves that.
If you think that politics/gender differences are off the discussion table entirely you really shouldn’t be pushing a political agenda and presenting weak social science studies as fact to all of your employees.

Also I don’t understand how people can tack on intentions to the document like they know them better than the writer. Why not look at the overwhelming amount of behavioral/evolutionary psychology research and think about his arguments instead? (conveniently there’s an interesting documentary called Norwegian Gender Paradox , just in case you don’t feel like reading a bunch of dry scientific papers. Look up Jordan Peterson’s and Gad Saad’s videos on the subject as well, they’re explained very well too)

If you look at the Scandinavian countries for example, which have done the most legwork and research to produce a gender neutral society for about five decades now, you see that gender differences have maximized, not minimized.
Which makes sense, if you free people from being pressured to achieve expectations of their parents or society, or focusing solely on their financial status, and make them able to follow their interests instead, those biological differences will have more chance to express themselves, not less.'t_a_Man_Be_More_Like_a_Woman_Sex_Differences_in_Big_Five_Personality_Traits_Across_55_Cultures_vol_94_pg_168_2008

If you show one day old babies a mechanical object or a face, most girls will look longer at the face, and most boys will look longer at the object. Before any toys, or any cultural biases have been introduced. Children with higher prenatal testosterone levels have slower language and social development, have problems with empathy later in life and higher interests in systems and understanding how things work.

You calling James a dick is telling and I’m sure you’d put the same stamp of approval onto conservative women being banned from tech groups/companies and label them as cunts accordingly. (that’s really classy, keep it up guys)


@fruitdust please, no language like that here on the forum. Disagree, sure, but keep it respectful

  1. Don’t call me Shirley.
  2. That’s exactly the point where we disagree. The notion that there are so many fewer women in tech than men because of innate biological differences is pseudoscientific bunk. The value of having more women in tech (or, fewer women pushed out of tech) is real.
  3. We’re talking in circles about “political correctness” and “diversity hires” and may be forced to agree to disagree. I despair that we may never convince each other of our correctness.


On the off chance you’re serious; This is how it’s done.

From K12 reader:

Good readers make inferences, or conclusions, as they read. It’s an important skill for understanding text, as authors often imply themes and ideas, without stating them outright.

There are lots of lessons and exercises out there but you can try it right now. Here’s a sample text and a worksheet.


Ok, hopefully that was helpful :slight_smile:


It doesn’t have to be biological for there to be a difference in populations between the genders in tech, formative social aspects form a lot of what a person is too- which is why schooling and nursery environment is so important. IMHO, personality isn’t solely crafted by your biology, but not solely by your social circumstances either and a core argument from James’ “side” is that the individual’s personality dictates what they enjoy doing (and thus the job they aim for). There is clearly a reason why a lot of boys follow their father into a profession, and I don’t think it’s because their genes make them better carpenters.

The strange this is that I don’t think we’re particularly far apart on what the aim is, but rather the method of reaching it. Given the assumption that a diverse workforce outputs better products than one populated with copies of similar people with similar life experiences (witch I think is quite a reasonable assumption), then we must devise an appropriate hiring format. More “realistic” interviewing techniques would be my preferred method, since it optimises for a better whole although I don’t deny that there are sexists and a somewhat pervasive “bro” culture in some companies. That, and I don’t think treating people as a checklist to fulfill before hiring them ultimately reduces people to irrelevancies. From the few women who I know that do work in the tech industry find it quite patronising when they are applauded for being female. But I digress, so I’ll stop rambling on about it.


Hey,uh, does anyone else feel kind of like a tourist discussing this? I mean, yeah, to an extent we can each interpret the issue through our own personal filters but I think I can speak for the majority of us when I say none of us (I’m assuming) have ever had to encounter the core issue head on. I dunno, I just think perhaps maybe Bad Voltage could further put resources to good use here.

Y’know what would be super awesome cool sometime in the near future? Maybe a panel (conference call/hangouts session/ whatever) with people from the community who have found themselves on the front line. Off the top of my head I’m thinking Sarah Sharp, Matthew Garrett, Lennart Poettering, and Patricia Torvalds. Others here may have suggestions of their own ?


This only got my attention because it was all over the media as an “Anti-Diversity Manifesto”. That label was consistent in the about all the media I was seeing, so I figured something fishy was going on, media wise. Otherwise, I would really not be interested. As to the document itself, I thought it was not well written. John C. Dvorak called the effort “Freshman”. What exactly he meant by that I can only infer. (I was going to use the form that @Sarah_Scarlett posted, but wasn’t too sure about getting the sharpie off the screen. :smile:)

So, I read the document and realized that the media is up to it’s usual tricks of taking things out of context to give an impression that opposite of what the reality is and in doing so, by calling it “Anti-Diversity” is an error. I am not eager to contradict @sil but to label this document as a “manifesto” is also an error. It was the same old thing that the media is either incompetent or dishonest. Here, they seem competent in their usual way of being dishonest.

I am not concerned about the validity of the points this man tries to make. I have no dog in this hunt. I will say I was not happy with the points that has gotten everyone upset. I will not attempt to either validate or invalidate what he so poorly said. So, it is something that he confused me with, something I wouldn’t mind discussing. What I propose is for ones like @cmgbeyer who are understandably upset to do an experiment. That is, do some redacting. Print it out if one has to, but redact the statements that are upsetting. Then try to give the document an impartial reading. I say try, because if I was upset, it would be hard for me to do. Try to form an opinion as to what are the intent, the goals, of this document. I am really interested as to hearing what you think those are. I have a couple of competing conjectures, but would rather wait and hear what others think. Then I think an open discussion could be made by un-redacting the document.

Anyone game?


I think if I did that, there wouldn’t be much of a document left.

Sarah’s saying what I’m thinking. As triggered as I am, I am neither a woman and I don’t work in tech. This discussion would be well served by women in tech.


I know I was disturbed by more than one statement. Is it a matter of it being too late for you, the whole thing has been soured, so to speak? Like I said, if that was my case, it would be hard for me to give it an impartial reading. I guess maybe I hope too much, eh?


I’m not sure how this fits into this conversation, but it seems relevant:

Maybe I can discuss the free interchange of ideas with the alt-right/neo-nazis/3 percenters when they descend on Google headquarters.


Well, not exactly. It would most certainly be better served with that inclusion, but that’s not the only way it can be served. I mean, woah, let’s stop and think a bit about what history would look like if it were only proper for those who were, or were directly effected by, xyz to speak up? Compassion, altruism, bravery, and empathy are always appreciated and needed. However, I do realise that I am coming from a place of privilege. While I am a woman (although a lot of the logic regarding innate traits in this thread has me questioning that ;)), I do not work in tech. That’s a privilege I see manifest itself usually in my typed views on software Freedom. If I’m to be honest with myself, I think if I worked in tech and actually had my livelihood linked to software I would probably self regulate myself out of fear to a degree. I know I do when it comes to military spending and the progressive conservatives (a political party here in Canada that really likes spending on national defense) because at the end of the day I know who ultimately decides how much my paycheque is for/my posting as a Commissionaire…people who really like conservatives . So while I always vote NDP (because that is where I’m truly politically most aligned), guess who keeps her mouth shut when political discussions at work start? I don’t cheer, but I don’t point out obvious injustice either. Cowardice? Yeah well, I never claimed to be a saint and I really don’t think any of us can truly say we speak up in every circumstance we would like to. I don’t have to worry about self censorship when it comes to tech though. I can’t be hurt professionally. I have that privilege of disassociation. We all have that privilege in different ways; Thanks and well done for using some of yours :slight_smile:

What my intended meaning was is that we actually do have people in the FOSS community who have encountered the core issue head on and have the resulting knowledge base and experience. The difference between talking with a Barcelonan(?)ian(?) and someone who visited for a week. This is more than just a forum, can facilitate the sharing of unique experiences people have had, and I for one would be interested in what they have to share. Also, btw, if you’ll notice I listed two men in my suggestions as well. @sil I wish I could say “…tune in to find out why” :slight_smile:


I honestly find the news coverage left out the total trashing this guy gives social scientists. Also if you are a leftist that means you are pro change? Moving around were things are located in the supermarket upsets me and I am mostly sure he would consider me a leftist. This is not to say that liberals don’t self censor themselves to not try and frustrate others.


Here’s a good response::


That’s ice cold. “There’s a pretty good search engine you could have used.”


Similar panels have happened in the past and have been pretty good as far as I am aware. A few awesome friends I’d love to see do this kind of thing such as Sarah Novotny (who has also been my boss in the past) and Jessica Rose (definitely check out her Pursuit Podcast). Probably Robyn Bergeron too. Ooo… maybe Leslie Hawthorn and Shirley Bailes. So many awesome people who could do this.

The takeaway I’d like from the Google Memo (and what appears to be sort-of happening here) is an open and respectful discussion on the issue. Hate won’t fix problems, discussion will. Whether or not the memo is right or wrong if it opens dialogue and opens eyes in the way it appears to (once you cut through the hate) then it is a good start.

Diversity is a complex subject that has no quick-fix black and white answers and may need changes to societies as a whole before we can get it right.


@cmgbeyer Do you think you might be able to find time to answer the questions I pose above?

Please respect our code of conduct which is simple: don't be a dick.