Friday, August 11, 2017

Why Did Google Freak Out and Fire an Employee for Spurring ‘Honest Discussion’?

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.

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.


Female Leaders Say Google ‘Intolerant’ in Firing Engineer for Memo on Gender Differences

Women in leadership roles are among those expressing disappointment that tech giant Google fired a senior software engineer for writing and distributing a memo ruminating on evidence that men and women are different.

Heather Mac Donald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and contributing editor to City Journal, told The Daily Signal in an email that conclusions reached by the fired Google employee, James Damore, were fair.

“Google’s intolerance for scientific research bodes poorly for America’s long-term competitiveness,” Mac Donald said, adding:

Damore’s memo was a reasoned, careful analysis of the emerging knowledge of gender differences, as well as a thoughtful call for a reassessment of Google’s monolithic political culture. And yet like Harvard’s former president, Larry Summers, he has lost his job because he dared to challenge the dominant narrative about absolute gender equality in every cognitive competence and emotional orientation.

Larry Summers, a past president of Harvard University, drew controversy in 2005 when he said men perform better than women in academic areas such as math and the sciences, and that mothers’ wariness of long office hours helps account for a shortage of women in senior positions in science and engineering.

Damore said men and women are especially gifted in various abilities due to biological makeup. In his memo, he wrote at one point:

The distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and … these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership. Many of these differences are small and there’s significant overlap between men and women, so you can’t say anything about an individual given these population level distributions.

Carrie Lukas, president of the Independent Women’s Forum, said in a statement sent to The Daily Signal that Google was wrong to fire Damore.

“This is another sad example of how afraid too many people—and companies, organizations, and even colleges—have become of actual discussion of ideas,” Lukas said. “This employee offered a thoughtful and entirely defensible perspective on a topic that needs honest debate, and was sadly punished for it.”

Christina Hoff Sommers, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, where she studies the politics of gender and feminism, told The Daily Signal in an email that Damore’s firing is political:

Google has excommunicated James Damore for crimes against the Pink Police State. Damore’s memo was awkward—but civil and mostly reasonable. Women who disagreed were free to shoot back a reply—or better yet, challenge him to a code-off. Instead, moral panic ensued.

“Google claims to welcome viewpoint diversity—[but actually does so only] as long as those viewpoints accord with their own,” Sommers said.

Damore, 28, had worked for Google since 2013 after receiving his doctorate in systems biology from Harvard.

In his memo, Damore said fewer women than men may work in technology because of different interests:

Women generally also have a stronger interest in people rather than things, relative to men, also interpreted as empathizing vs. systemizing. These two differences in part explain why women relatively prefer jobs in social or artistic areas. More men may like coding because it requires systemizing.

In a prepared statement provided to The Daily Signal, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said parts of Damore’s circulated memo violated the company’s code of conduct because of its “harmful gender stereotypes”:

[W]e strongly support the right of Googlers to express themselves, and much of what was in that memo is fair to debate, regardless of whether a vast majority of Googlers disagree with it. However, portions of the memo violate our code of conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.

Penny Nance, president and CEO of Concerned Women for America, told The Daily Signal in a phone interview that she expects Damore’s case to go to court.

“I am surprised that Google fired him … because I believe it is illegal,” Nance said, adding:

The Supreme Court under Rutan v. Republican Party of Illinois in 1990 specifically said that viewpoint discrimination is illegal for employment purposes. And the other thing is I don’t think they are doing women any favors. 

In Rutan v. Republican Party of Illinois, the high court held that “promotion, transfer, recall, and hiring decisions involving low-level public employees may be constitutionally based on party affiliation and support,” according to Cornell University Law School.

But Ryan T. Anderson, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, noted that a private company makes its own decisions on who to hire and fire.

This firing, suggested Anderson, author of the book “Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom,” highlights an inconsistency on the left. 

“Google is free to operate in accordance with its anti-science androgynous belief system,” Anderson told The Daily Signal in an email.

“So, too, Americans who believe we are created male and female, and that male and female are created for each other, should be free to run their organizations in accordance with their beliefs.”

The Manhattan Institute’s Mac Donald said the story may have been different if Damore was a woman.

“Firing a female would put you further in the red, so you want to hold on to your females at all costs,” she said, adding:

So it is a question of whether the diversity imperative here [that is] improving the female to male ratio trumps the imperative for ideological conformity. They certainly would have had to think more about their decision, but whether a female would have ultimately been spared the ax is difficult to predict.  Maybe she would have been sent to re-education camp. 


Northern Ireland won’t back down on abortion

Arlene Foster has said that the DUP will do “everything in its power” to resist calls from the UK to relax anti-abortion laws.

The unionist party leader said that the DUP was coming under increasing pressure within British politics to lift Northern Ireland’s strict rules on terminations. This follows a decision by the Westminster government to allow Northern Irish women to have abortions in England on the NHS. Stella Creasy, a Labour MP, has called for the costs of the women’s flights to be covered as well.

The staunchly anti-abortion stance of the DUP has been under close scrutiny since the party came to mainstream attention in the UK when it agreed to prop up Theresa May’s diminished Conservative Party.


Australia: Support Palestine: Stop the Synagogue! (?)

Julius O’Malley left an informative comment on last night’s post about the synagogue that will not be built in a suburb of Sydney. The planning request for a new synagogue in Bondi was turned down, ostensibly because it would cause an increased risk of terrorism in the area.

Mr. O’Malley’s detailed explanation of the local political currents in Bondi and adjacent suburbs provides some welcome nuance on the situation. It seems the purported fear of terrorism is actually just a cover for the time-honored lefty cause of supporting "Palestine" and keeping the Jews down.

The text below has been edited for punctuation:

Here is the judgment of the Land & Environment Court of New South Wales upholding Waverley Council’s refusal of planning permission for a new synagogue at Bondi.

The sad reality is that Jewish institutions are targets of Muslim hostility. Everybody knows it; they don’t want to acknowledge it and don’t want to assume the personal risk of being collateral damage when a synagogue is firebombed, shot up, etc. Islam wins.

While everything Gavin Boby states in the interview is correct, it has little direct bearing on this case as there was no Muslim opposition to the proposed synagogue — which was a Chabad, ultra-Orthodox, synagogue. What makes this case very interesting is the subtext to the refusal of planning permission by the local council — the Court was merely persuaded by the Council’s security concerns argument, as reading the case will make obvious.

To understand the subtext here, one has to understand the demographics of Waverley, the local government area in which Bondi sits. While there are at least five synagogues, several Jewish primary, secondary and pre-schools in Waverley Municipality and several more just beyond its borders, and there is one street in Bondi where the street name is a local byword for the ultra-orthodox Jewish community and another street nearby is simply nicknamed "Kosher Boulevarde", Bondi is not a Jewish neighbourhood per se. Waverley LGA [local government area], less so again, although another of its suburbs to the north of Bondi, Dover Heights, is nicknamed "Jehovah Heights" and its neighbor, Rose Bay, is nicknamed "Nose Bay". Another suburb adjoining Bondi and Waverley, the very affluent Bellevue Hill, has the highest density of Jews (by postcode) in Australia and is nicknamed "Bellejew Hill". It is the other, non-Jewish, demographic of Bondi and of Waverley that is in play here.

Waverley is home to the iconic Bondi Beach and several other beautiful ocean beaches such as Bronte and Tamarama ("Glamarama"). It attracts "Bo-Bo’s" (Bourgeois-Bohemians) and affluent hipsters and has been gentrified since the 1970’s. Such people vote to give the left wing faction of the Labor Party and the Green Party a very substantial, often dominant presence, in the local council and in state parliamentary representation. The left wing of the Labor Party and the Green Party are both deeply, ahem, "pro-Palestine". They are never "anti-Israel", of course, although they are increasingly willing to go on the record as "anti-Zionist".

A recent representative for the seat of Waverley in the NSW state parliament was the former mayor of Waverley, Paul Pearce, who is a member of the left wing faction of the Labor Party (and inherited the seat from another Left Laborite, Ernie Page). The balding Pearce, now cruising through life on a generous parliamentary pension, sports a ponytail and ear-ring and used to wear Che Guevara cufflinks to state parliament. Pearce bequeathed the mayoralty of Waverley to his left-faction Labor Party girlfriend (they are both in their late 50s-early 60s and have lived in Pearce’s father’s impressive multi-million dollar home overlooking Bronte beach for several decades) Ingrid Strewe, who used to speak glowingly of her years living in East Berlin before 1990 where "there was free childcare so women could have careers" — never mind the Stasi.

Getting the picture of Waverley? The Bo-Bo’s, hipsters and others who vote for the likes of Pearce, Strewe and the former Labor Party (left faction) federal candidate for the area, David Patch, or for the Green Party, would never, ever, come out in the open and state "We don’t like Jews and don’t want them or their schools or places of worship around" but … .

I recently obtained a surprising insight into how some people in the Waverley area feel about the armed security guards stationed outside synagogues and Jewish schools. I accept such a presence as a natural and normal response to danger. The wife of an artist from the area, however, whined to me at a dinner about how offensive it was to her that security guards outside a Waverley synagogue would stare at her as she drove past. When I made the point that they had to be wary of who was passing by their synagogue for security reasons, especially on a Saturday, she responded: "They wouldn’t need security guards if they weren’t doing what they’re doing in Palestine"! It is that type of sentiment and viewpoint amongst (presumably many) of the non-Jews of Waverley that drives the refusal of planning permission for a new synagogue at Bondi.

Interestingly, the group that proposed the Bondi synagogue formally called themselves "Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe"; no doubt in an attempt to garner some of the extraordinary sympathy extended to "refugees" in our era.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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