At Google diversity is seen as highly important, but the company’s efforts received a jolt when one of its engineers explained why he thinks fewer women are in tech jobs. The employee, who has not been identified, stated that the reason there are fewer women in tech jobs is because of biological differences between men and women.
Is Google diversity a myth?
In a 3,000-word document, the employee stated that all Google diversity programs, including the one that teaches young girls coding skills, are “highly politicized.” The employee added that diversity work “alienates non-progressives.” The document also said that biological differences “explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership.” In addition, the author says that women usually opt for “jobs in social or artistic areas,” while men prefer coding.
Further, the employee said higher rates of anxiety disorder can easily explain why there are fewer women in high-stress jobs. The employee stated that the company’s steps toward hiring more women are making it less competitive and that the gender wage gap is a myth.
Google surely does not want trouble to brew internally at a time when it has been accused of gender pay discrimination and the Department of Justice is investigating the allegations. Now there are also voices claiming that a line should be defined in the corporate environment beyond which discussion should not be permitted.
What others have to say
The document, which was made public by Motherboard on Saturday, has already created quite a row inside Google, and is now it receiving criticism externally. Google Diversity President Danielle Brown and Engineering Vice President Ari Balogh also criticized the document and defended the steps Google has taken toward diversity.
Balogh stated that the employee is stereotyping, which is “deeply troubling” and “harmful.” Brown stated that Google offers equal opportunities to everyone with different political and cultural views to voice their opinion.
“But that discourse needs to work alongside the principles of equal employment found in our Code of Conduct, policies, and anti-discrimination laws,” she added.
In a post on Medium, entrepreneur Elissa Shevinsky wrote that questioning technical qualifications based on race or gender falls under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The act prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion and national origin.
Meanwhile, Yonatan Zunger, a former Google privacy engineer, stated that the engineer who wrote the document is not aware of what he is saying. Zunger said that had the engineer in question reported to him, he would have been fired.
Erica Baker, a Slack Engineer described by CNBC as an “outspoken critic of systematic bias in the tech industry,” stated that such behavior in the tech industry is not surprising. Baker stated that previously Google has seen similar incidents of discrimination in which employees write blogs about their racist beliefs.
“The most important question we should be asking of leaders at Google and that they should be asking of themselves is this: Why is the environment at Google such that racists and sexists feel supported and safe in sharing these views in the company?” said Baker.