This is Why James Damore Deserved to be Fired From Google
By: Ariel Wodarcyk
Senior software engineer James Damore has been fired from Google after writing a 10-page anti-diversity manifesto entitled, “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” according to a report from Motherboard.
In the 10-page Google doc, Damore argues that the reason women struggle to get ahead is not solely due to the well-documented gender biases in tech, but because, in his own words, “men and women biologically differ in many ways.” While there are small differences in the way female and male brains are structured, several studies have shown that these differences are verrrry subtle, and that no scientist can identify a person’s assigned gender simply by taking a peek inside their skull. This study shows that when looking at brain scans, scientists saw differences in every brain, regardless of gender. Basically, all brains have differences because all humans are different from one another. Besides, claiming that men and women are biologically different completely ignores the entire spectrum of gender identities that don’t fit neatly under the labels “male” and “female.”
Damore then goes on to point out the personality characteristics he claims are holding women back, one of which is “neuroticism”. Neuroticism is a highly gendered word often used to dismiss women who express worry, even when their worries are completely valid. It is a word that has been used to silence women time and time again, sometimes by our president. It is also a word that turns having anxiety, something that millions of Americans, including myself, live with, into a pointed gendered insult. When men like Damore call women neurotic, they don’t stop to think that perhaps part of the reason women are twice as likely to suffer from anxiety than men is a result of unequal pay (particularly among women of color) and workplace discrimination, both of which impact how women are able to care for themselves and/or their families in their daily lives.
He also claims women are less assertive than men, making them less likely to speak up in meetings, negotiate salary, and lead large projects. While women do sometimes use friendlier and more tentative language than men, this is not because women are more weak-willed. Instead, it is because women (again, particularly women of color) are socialized from a young age to practice self-control, put others’ needs before their own, and police themselves in ways that male children are not always taught.
The silver lining to this story is, again, that James Damore was fired, and his actions have been condemned by Google CEO Sundar Pichai and countless employees. However, women still face an uphill battle when it comes to making their way in tech. As Susan Wojcicki wrote in response to Damore’s manifesto, “this was yet another discouraging signal to young women who aspire to study computer science.”