Discussion with James Damore and others disrupted in Portland

As we all know, James Damore, former Google employee, has been demonized for life for supposedly suggesting in his famous memo that women weren’t as qualified to work in tech jobs as were men. In fact, his memo didn’t say that: it said that perhaps women were underrepresented in tech at least in part due to their lack of interest in such jobs (he didn’t discount sexism, nor do I). But suggesting that lack of gender parity in jobs has anything to do with lack of interest or preference is not acceptable in today’s climate, where ideology decrees that men and women must be exactly equal in both abilities and interests.

Google fired Damore for violating the company’s code of conduct. He then filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board for being unjustly fired. He withdrew that complaint, but the NLRB had already determined internally that Damore’s firing was legal, saying that “statements regarding biological differences between the sexes were so harmful, discriminatory, and disruptive as to be unprotected”.  I find that distressing, for I believe there are some biological differences between the sexes, and if saying that is harmful and disruptive, then not only will research be suppressed, but nobody will be able to even mention the existence of biological differences. And, as I’ve said repeatedly, differences in preference or ability cannot and should not be used to deny anybody equal opportunity—the climate to let their talents and interests flower without the restrictions of bias.

In fact, as I reported the other day, new research by Gijsbert Stoet and David C. Geary supports the existence of gender difference in interests in STEM fields: the more gender-equal the society, the less likely women are to get tech degrees. That’s the opposite of what you’d expect if differences in preferences played no role in unequal representation. (That study also showed that women were at least equal to men in their abilities in STEM areas). For an explanation of the paradox, go read my exegesis of Stoet and Geary’s paper.

So Damore, regardless of the merit of the studies he quoted (they’re disputed), was probably partially right. Jon Haidt and Sean Stevens agreed, concluding, after analyzing the memo, that differences between men and women in STEM abilities was virtually nil, but differences in preferences were significant:

 Damore is correct that there are “population level differences in distributions” of traits that are likely to be relevant for understanding gender gaps at Google. Even if we set aside all questions about the origins of these differences, the fact remains that there are gender differences in a variety of traits, and especially in interest/enjoyment (rather than ability) in the adult population from which Google and all other tech firms recruit.

It’s been some time since I read Damore’s memo, but I gave my take last August. Here’s part of it:

I’ve reread the infamous Google memo by James Damore, and my opinion is about the same: it’s a mixed bag insofar as it makes some weak biological/evolutionary claims about male versus female preferences, and it could have used some citations (but of course there’s lots of literature to cherry-pick, and that would have made it into a paper, not a memo). Damore seems to take observed sex differences in behavioral traits like “neuroticism” to argue, implicitly or explicitly, that differences in psychology or ability are biological differences instilled in our ancestors by natural selection. He doesn’t consider that some part of these differences, or even the bulk of them, could be cultural—due to socialization and biases—and therefore should not be taken as “evolutionarily hardwired”. And even “evolutionary hardwired” differences can be susceptible to cultural change.  Further, Damore’s argument that these differences are “universal and therefore genetic” is not only a priori illogical (nearly everybody in the world is religious, but does that mean we have a gene for it?), but I even doubt that every society has been surveyed to show the universality of sex differences in psychology, preference, or ability.

That said, I think the memo makes points worth considering, has been grossly misrepresented by people who attacked it, and likely led to Damore’s firing simply because he violated the Regressive Leftist dictum that there are no biological, or even existing, psychological differences between men and women, and therefore differential representation must be due to sexist bias leading to failure to hire or promote.

Given the results of Stoet and Geary, I’d probably emphasize biology a bit more now than I did then, though their study should be replicated.

This is all a long-winded way to explain why Damore, when he speaks in public, gets attacked and disrupted by Leftists, abrogating his freedom of speech. This happened on a small scale on February 17, when Damore was part of a panel at Portland State University (PSU) called “We need to talk about diversity.” The panel was organized by a student skeptic group, Freethinkers of PSU. Besides Damore, it included former Evergreen State biologist Heather E. Heying, PSU philosophy professor Peter Boghossian, and writer Helen Pluckrose. Bret Weinstein, Heying’s husband and the target of student ire at Evergreen, also appeared briefly.  The panel and disruption are discussed in a Quillette article by Andy Ngo.

The protestors didn’t manage to derail the event, but disrupted it, even ripping out the sound system as they flounced from the room. As Ngo reports, there were other attempts to prevent people from hearing the panel:

A protest campaign to hoard free tickets claimed more than half the seats, suppressing turnout.

After the event, police and security escorted the speakers out of a back entrance. I caught up with them and asked for their reactions. Helen Pluckrose recalled what one of the police officers had told her: “So why are you so radical and extreme and dangerous that I have to escort you off campus? You seemed very reasonable to me.” She still doesn’t have an answer.

You can see the protest in this clip from a tweet, and the full discussion at the bottom. The protest began when Heying rather than Damore was speaking. (Why do these protestors always have red, green, or blue hair?)

Note how angry the woman was who was removed by the police. One protestor calls Damore a “Nazi.”  The anger in these people is strong, palpable—and unwarranted. It’s a way of preventing discussion by spewing outrage.

Willamette Week reports the disruption, which starts at 20:08 in the full video below.

When the doors of Hoffman Hall opened to the ticket-holding attendees, the only protesters in sight were a group of six students holding signs displaying photos of prominent women scientists: Dana Ulery, Gladys West, Lynn Conway, Radia Perlman, Adele Goldberg, and Grace Hopper, Ada Lovelace, the Eniac Team, Karen Spark-Jones and Sophie Wilson.

The small group walked up to the courtyard in front of Hoffman Hall, showing the signs to people waiting in line and patiently answering questions from bystanders curious about the women. In front of the hall, they held their signs and talked quietly among themselves.

Some other protesters waiting in line for the walk-out protest wore purple, a color chosen to distinguish themselves from the rest of the small crowd waiting to listen to Damore speak.

“I’m bummed my tuition money is going toward James Damore,” said Chloe Kendal, a senior graphic design major, as she waited in line. “Most people I know are really bummed. People in my department are really unhappy he’s speaking on campus.”

Her friend Jenny Vu, also a graphic design major, says most students didn’t know or care about the event.

“Most people are unaware and indifferent, but the people who are aware are angry,” she says.

They both hoped to send a message to the event organizers by walking out of the auditorium.

More than 200 people showed up to the event. Around 6:30, a handful of attendees got up to walk out.

As they were leaving, two people tried to disconnect the audio equipment by knocking over a speaker and pulling out wires. The microphones cut out for about 30 seconds.

I mourn the lack of civility in all this, and the willingness of the protestors to call people Nazis and try to shut down their talk by ripping out wires and speakers.  Fortunately, the panel went on, and the protestors huffed off into the night.

81 Comments

  1. Posted March 2, 2018 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    I too mourn the lack of civility in these discussions. But to understand why Google really had to let Damore go, you need to understand something about how Google works. (Note: I don’t work there; I work at another well-known tech company nearby. But I have several friends at Google.) Most companies do annual reviews. At Google your annual review is largely a peer review. Suppose that a woman engineer is working on a project along with Damore. Can she trust that his feedback about her will be objective? Now, it might not have been even objective even if he had never published this memo (and of course that goes for all peer feedback by anyone) but once you take a public stand on something, you will – consciously or otherwise – find yourself defending it. In that sense he poisoned his ability to work with folks that he might have had to work with.

    • glen1davidson
      Posted March 2, 2018 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      What does anything he wrote or said have to do with individual evaluations?

      Considering the culture at Google, I think the question is whether Damore could get an objective evaluation. Apparently not.

      Glen Davidson

    • Posted March 2, 2018 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I understand that, and I’ve heard secondhand that Damore had a previous history of unpleasant interactions with people at Google. I have no opinion about whether or not Google should have fired him, as I don’t know his history at Google. All I think is that he shouldn’t be permanently demonized BECAUSE OF THAT MEMO.

      • Posted March 5, 2018 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

        Some are saying that it wasn’t that he wrote the memo, but that he spammed it everywhere, posting it in unsuitable context. (A “time and place for everything” complaint.) I don’t know how much of my view hinges on this …

    • Davide Spinello
      Posted March 2, 2018 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      I wonder if the ones that routinely trash white males are fired for being unable to peer review their white males colleagues.

      • Posted March 2, 2018 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

        Not on your life.

        • Davide Spinello
          Posted March 2, 2018 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

          Looking at the documentation attached to Damore lawsuit, Google tolerates employees that are openly racist and sexist (against the right groups of course). I wonder how a white male openly conservative (aka Nazi) would be peer evaluated in that environment (and that is probably why no one is openly conservative there.)

          • Posted March 2, 2018 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

            The basis for a class-action suit by conservative Googleers perhaps? Nevermind. Bad idea. I can see the headlines now; “Google v Nazis”

            • Davide Spinello
              Posted March 2, 2018 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

              I think it is a class action.

    • Posted March 2, 2018 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      Can she trust that his feedback about her will be objective?

      I don’t see why not. He takes pains, in the memo, to make clear the difference between individuals and group means.

      From what little I know of him, I’d certainly trust him on this more than many of the people who complain about him.

    • Posted March 2, 2018 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      Suppose that a woman engineer is working on a project along with Damore. Can she trust that his feedback about her will be objective?

      You apparently missed the part of Damore’s memo where he emphasized that employees and applicants be treated as individuals and not as members of a sex or race.

      …once you take a public stand on something…

      google asked its employees to provide feedback on the matter, and hundreds of them did.

      …he poisoned his ability to work with folks that he might have had to work with.</blockquote
      Given that google has heavily politicized its work environment and openly punishes those who do not recite its SJW credo, it was google that did the poisoning.

      • yazikus
        Posted March 2, 2018 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

        Given that google has heavily politicized its work environment and openly punishes those who do not recite its SJW credo,

        Companies can choose to cultivate a culture that they prefer. I worked in a very right-leaning (heck, wing) place for a long time. My colleagues assumed I was a ‘closet Republican’ for years. Why did they think this? Because I kept a lid on my personal political opinions at the office, because I was there to work, not pontificate. Was it awkward each time Obama was elected? Yes! Did I live? Yes! I even worked on some political campaigns for GOP candidates. And somehow, magically, I never managed to write a long-winded memo to all of my colleagues expounding at length on my personal pet theories about gender and politics in the workplace. Damore should not be silenced, but his message is last-century’s news.

        • Posted March 2, 2018 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

          google actively solicits input from its employees of the type Damore submitted. They just didn’t like its content.

          I’m not sure what you mean by “last century’s news”. For decades, it may have been commonly understood that personality differences lead men & women to make differing career choices, but currently the SJW Party Line (and what was being stated as fact at google) is no such sex differences exist and the career differences are due to The Patriarchy™.

          It’s high time that more people emulate Damore and speak out against this lunacy.

          • yazikus
            Posted March 2, 2018 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

            For decades, it may have been commonly understood that personality differences lead men & women to make differing career choices

            For centuries, and more, both sexes have been discouraged (and locked out!) of professions seen to be suited to the opposite sex. Saying that women aren’t suited to coding isn’t radical. And some of the differences in rates of attrition are due to the Patriarchy™.

            All this talk reminds me of a woman I know who recounted a story from her youth. She, at age ten or so, was an enterprising young girl, and set on getting an income. She went out and secured a number of lawn-mowing jobs (she had done it at home) and was pleased and excited to report this to her parents. Her father was not so pleased. He told her that that sort of work (when done outside of family chores) was for boys. And instructed her brother to take over the jobs she had committed to.
            She grew up and became a scientist. She took advantage of programs that were there for supporting girls looking into STEM. Programs where they told her she was suited for that kind of work. That that sort of work wasn’t just for boys. She had wanted it all along, but those programs helped her realize she wasn’t insufficient just because of her anatomy. Betwixt all of Damore’s ‘data’, he rails against diversity programs. The kind of programs that helped facilitate this woman’s journey into science as a career.
            So, yes. I see his plaintive calls for reinstating decades (nay- centuries!) old regressive gender stereotypes as offensive.

            • Posted March 3, 2018 at 2:28 am | Permalink

              Betwixt all of Damore’s ‘data’, he rails against diversity programs.

              No, actually, he doesn’t. He rails against *some* of the current ideology around diversity, saying why he thinks it is not a good way of promoting diversity, and then suggests what he thinks are better ways.

            • Davide Spinello
              Posted March 3, 2018 at 7:24 am | Permalink

              You may start from reading the memo. If you did already, I am sorry.

            • Posted March 3, 2018 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

              Your anecdote does not negates the data.

              Part of google’s diversity program is to boost female hires to 50%. Yet only 33% of IT graduates are female. And the overwhelming evidence for why is personal preference — women choose to study in other fields and work in other professions.

              • yazikus
                Posted March 3, 2018 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

                Sorry for not responding earlier. I was putting out a literal chimney fire. I was inspired to post my anecdote by all of the other anecdotes on this thread (I assume you’ve chastised the others as well?). I agree that the evidence is that women chose other professions, I’m just interested in the why pertaining to that.

                I’m curious, and will try to look it up, but are graduation rates for IT degrees the same for women in other countries? Google does hire from abroad, no? I won’t begrudge them for trying to achieve what they think is gender parity in hiring.

              • Posted March 4, 2018 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

                Try burning manzanita if you can get it. Burns hot and gets rid of the creosote.

                As far as I know, other countries display the same sex disparity in career choices. In the US, women have fully been in the workforce going on five decades now and, despite dramatic improvements in equality and the dissipation of stereotypes, sex disparity in work fields has changed but little.

                Now I get to share an anecdote: two of my former employees, very sharp and hard-working women, had promising careers ahead of them in the corporate world. Both have left it to become school teachers.

  2. Davide Spinello
    Posted March 2, 2018 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    “Only women lactate” is clearly a Nazist statement perpetrating fixed biological binaries that have been debunked by the insightful and clearly phrased work of Judith Butler.

    • Posted March 2, 2018 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      Only women menstruate. Only men risk prostate cancer.

      Nazis everywhere, I tell ya.

      • Davide Spinello
        Posted March 2, 2018 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        Luckily thousands of students with cultural studies degrees are out there dictating policies to eradicate nazi biological diversity exclusionary from the society.

      • JonLynnHarvey
        Posted March 2, 2018 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

        As usual, Monty Python with their “right to have babies” is on target.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted March 4, 2018 at 2:24 am | Permalink

          And all in one take, too.

          Absolutely classic. This is Monty Python lampooning SJW-speak before SJW’s were even invented.

          cr

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted March 2, 2018 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

        Only biological structures breathe – and as a geologist I feel I should intersectionally support the entities of my fascination.

        Wow – it’s hard work coming up with that stuff. My respect for Sokal rises along with my gorge.

        • Posted March 5, 2018 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

          You’ll note that Sokal himself says that he didn’t actually *write* most of his parody, just string quotes together.

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted March 5, 2018 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

            Yeah, I’m trying to work out how to put together a JS insult generator. Getting the right source material is harder than than the random selection code.

  3. glen1davidson
    Posted March 2, 2018 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    When you can’t make a reasoned case for your position, just try to shut down the other side.

    Apparently there was never any other reason for the protesters to be there.

    Nazis are not welcome in civil society? Who’s acting like Nazis, and who’s trying to bring down civil society?

    The bankruptcy of the censors’ intellects reveals itself again and again.

    Glen Davidson

  4. AlanF
    Posted March 2, 2018 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Damore stated the obvious in his memo: men and women have different interests. Why they have different interests is another question entirely.

    My own experience bears this out. I was a microchip designer for 33 years, and as my daughter and stepson grew up I encouraged them to prepare for engineering careers. Both showed ability and interest, eventually enrolling in engineering programs in college. But after a year my daughter, even though doing well, became disinterested in the physics, etc., required. After some time she switched to biology, and after five years in school graduated with a double major in biology/zoology and a minor in math. But her career options didn’t interest her: graduate school or a fairly low level job in some biotech field. Eventually she went through a 2-year teaching program, but at the end decided that teaching high school students was not for her. Now she has her own business teaching piano to children, and loves it.

    Over the years I’ve worked with many program managers and many fellow microelectronics engineers. There were hardly any female engineers, but plenty of competent program managers. Naturally I became friendly with most of these people, and that led to some discussions of how we each got into our respective career slots. It all boiled down to personal interests: the female managers were simply not interested in the nuts and bolts of circuit design, but very interested in, and good at, managing projects.

    One female engineer (from China) that I worked with for some years was a very competent circuit designer, but quickly went on to become a manager of about a dozen male engineers. She quickly rose to higher levels of responsibility. Eventually the company was bought out and swallowed by a bigger fish after the 2008 recession. She is now the overall engineering manager for a Silicon Valley microelectronics firm.

    I think that many people in the Regressive Left, having no real experience in the hard-science fields, have no idea how the real world of science and engineering works, especially in terms of the people. Interests and abilities go hand in hand, and those are most certainly characteristics of individuals, not identity groups.

    I myself have never had ability or interest in managing engineers or anyone else, but I know a good manager when I see one. My best manager, in a banking job in the 1970s, was a highly educated Jewish woman from Brooklyn. Another good one was a guy who was a lousy engineer, but an excellent organizer and manager. A third was a Syrian, educated in the U.S. and now an American citizen; he was a great engineer but so-so at managing mainly because he was much more interested in doing circuit design, and did manager stuff grudgingly. Not far from my home is a design center for a major microelectronics firm that employs a number of my former colleagues. There are two female engineers (immigrants) and perhaps twenty males; the place is run by what I’m told is an extremely competent female, who was a very good engineer but is better at management.

    So in my view, Damore was on the money, but the ridiculous politically correct environment of today’s Regressive Left royally screwed him.

    • Davide Spinello
      Posted March 2, 2018 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      OK, but what about the environment?

      By the way: shame on you Nazi for socializing your daughter into a piano teacher.

    • Posted March 2, 2018 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      Although anecdotal, those are still some illuminating stories about what it is like in the technical fields. People differ in their interests — some go for management, others dream about transistors. Some are men and others are women.
      So what’s the big deal if it is a 60:40 or even 80:20 gender difference split between interest in people and an interest in electronics? Let people go where they like.

      • rickflick
        Posted March 2, 2018 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

        Exactly so. But it worries me that many women are pressured into ignoring their interests because society has not accepted an 80:20 split, or whatever it is. The emphasis surely should be on individuals not fractions of populations. What ever happened to those tests designed to help students decide what areas they are interested in and which ones they would do well at? Are they still a thing? And do they work? What are high school counselors telling young women?

        • yazikus
          Posted March 2, 2018 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

          But it worries me that many women are pressured into ignoring their interests because society has not accepted an 80:20 split

          Ah, yes. That poor generation of girls being told they cannot not be in STEM!*
          *Let me know when this is a thing.

        • rickflick
          Posted March 3, 2018 at 10:35 am | Permalink

          My point is we don’t know how much of a thing it is. Research might help.

  5. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted March 2, 2018 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    The most generous interpretation to put on it is that Trump has everyone rattled.

  6. P. Puk
    Posted March 2, 2018 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    15 years ago, in Holland, the government started an initiative to get more mothers back into the workforce. It involved financial incentives to companies and employees and ended up a massive failure.

    Who would have thought that some people preferred taking care of the home and kids rather than spend 40 hours a week pushing papers so their boss could buy a bigger Mercedes.

    As the proud owner of a pair of testicles, I can’t say that this alternative is unattractive either.

    • Gabrielle
      Posted March 2, 2018 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

      Well, do like we do here in the US – Have only 8 weeks of paid maternity leave, and that’s not even legally mandated. Have a spotty social safety net. Have health insurance provided through employers, not the government. Make it difficult to afford buying health insurance on one’s own. Have unemployment insurance only last 6 months. Live in constant fear of being laid off, so that it becomes difficult long term to rely solely on the husband’s income.
      And most of all, make certain that it takes two incomes to maintain a middle class lifestyle in a decent, safe neighborhood with good schools for the kids.
      Believe me, the above items will work just fine in getting mothers back into the work force.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 4, 2018 at 2:29 am | Permalink

      Ah. 5 hours taking care of the kids would be enough to send me fleeing to the office. And yes I’m (was) an engineer, why d’you ask?

      cr

  7. yazikus
    Posted March 2, 2018 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think these sorts of disruptions are helpful. Let them speak, hear them out & disagree.
    That said, what I’ve been wondering about is why so many people are treating the message that women are ‘less inclined/well suited/interested in/wired for’ certain professions as if it were some novel idea. It isn’t. I don’t think Damore’s memo, or message, for that matter, adds much to any discussion on ‘viewpoint diversity’.

    • Posted March 2, 2018 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      Along those lines, since most of the ideas are rehashed, the fact that those protestors bring the spotlight to old thought and thus reignite discussion long found to be unproductive. They hamper their own efforts by speaking out. But one must learn.

    • Posted March 2, 2018 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      Some of us have a visceral reaction because as women in engineering, we heard it frequently from our male colleagues. Oh, they weren’t necessarily overt about it, but the message was always in the air, and it was clear. Women were support people. Women were disposable. Women couldn’t hack it.

      I only worked at one place that supported women engineers, and surprisingly it was a military contractor, peppered with ex-military folks. This was in the ’80s and early ’90s. Such companies were not known for leading-edge social dynamics, and in fact many of the job requirements were difficult for mothers of young children. But I wasn’t a mother, I excelled there, and most of my male colleagues supported me. Many mentored me. I also observed that we were able to hire and keep women engineers at a percentage that would leave my later employers shocked.

      Then I went to work for commercial product companies, and the sexism in the workplace was so thick it eddied around me as I walked. Three different companies, three very different groups of people in terms of ethnic diversity, and daily BS. Women friends in engineering environments here in Silicon Valley have had similar experiences.

      After two decades of this I went back to college and studied geology. Silicon Valley tech can get stuffed.

      • yazikus
        Posted March 2, 2018 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

        I don’t doubt your experience in the slightest. When I had a male receptionist, I watched more than once as people became uncomfortable with that idea and tried to rename him ‘office manager’, despite the fact that I had an office manager – a woman. From delivery people who would ask if he wanted to sign for the docs rather than her, to one person who asked if I wasn’t sure that he wasn’t the OM… I’m also not terribly surprised that the ex-military folk were supportive. I think that the military recognizes human potential quite well, and understands how to maximize their assets, regardless of gender.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted March 2, 2018 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, I’m not surprised it was the military either. The US Armed Forces can be hidebound about its traditions, but it’s been at the forefront in securing equal opportunity for minorities. The military desegregated in 1948, six years before Brown v. Board of Education desegregated the schools, and adapted to gays serving openly — and it’s even resisted Trump’s silly, impulsive effort to ban transgendered troops from serving.

          • Posted March 2, 2018 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

            I think it’s because they just don’t have the time for that crap.

      • Posted March 2, 2018 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

        This is a good point. It may be true that women avoid these fields by prefence or by choice, but why do women make that choice? It may have less to do with their lack of interest in the field than with the “tech bro” culture that is so pervasive in the field.

        • Posted March 2, 2018 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

          The findings in the paper discussed by Dr PCC(e) doesn’t lend support to this. If it were true that women’s choices are restricted by the “tech bros” there should be no correlation between the level of freedom women enjoy in their respective countries and their choice of profession. But there is.

          Something else besides (or in addition to) the evil menz is at work.

          • Posted March 2, 2018 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

            I don’t know. Women have more options in countries with more de jure gender equality so they can exercise their preference to avoid the tech bro culture.

      • Gabrielle
        Posted March 2, 2018 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

        I’ve also had the experience of working for two companies in the same industry who had remarkably different attitudes towards women who were engineers and chemists. One company expected everyone to be a contributor and work hard, both men and women. And by and large, the women there did well, moved up the technical ladder and didn’t leave the company at higher rates than the men.
        The second company – it was like working in the 1950s. To be considered promotion material, you had to be a “man’s man”. Women were automatically excluded, along with men who were not interested enough in sports, cars, golf, etc. Predictably, it was difficult for women to move up the ladder, so there was a good deal of turnover, with a good 50% of women leaving the company within 5 years or so.
        Bizarrely, the second company had all kinds of public relations initiatives touting the firm as a great place for women to work.

    • Posted March 2, 2018 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      It is likely that the “viewpoint diversity” in question isn’t whether or not women and men have different interests, rather the diversity they wish to explore is whether we are allowed to think and say that we do.

      I do not think you mean that Damore and his viewpoint should not be allowed to be heard.

      • yazikus
        Posted March 2, 2018 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

        I do not think you mean that Damore and his viewpoint should not be allowed to be heard

        You are correct. I’ve read his memo, listened to interviews with him, etc. because I was curious where exactly he was coming from and wanted to know what motivated (and continues to motivate) him. Certainly does not mean I agree with everything he has to say. My point was rather that his opinion is neither novel nor revolutionary. I don’t think he’s owed a platform anywhere – but if a group wants to invite him? Go ahead.

      • nicky
        Posted March 3, 2018 at 4:00 am | Permalink

        Yes, a very good point. Even if Mr Damore is mistaken, (not likely, but not totally impossible either) it is unconscionable to punish him for such a hypothesis. Even if he had said that he thinks women are less good at IT/engineering (he positively did not, he talked about interest, not capability) he should still not have been punished for speaking out.

  8. Michael Fisher
    Posted March 2, 2018 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Q&A begins at 54:30 In the video

    Briefly skipping through the questions asked… I conclude that some of the students don’t know how to frame a question & other students are proselytizing. Jargon, cliché & lack of concision – as if their social learnings come from a well of slogans rather than examined, debated first principles.

    A dull [as in uninteresting] bunch in the main.

  9. Diane G.
    Posted March 2, 2018 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    sub

  10. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 2, 2018 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    I believe there are some biological differences between the sexes …

    Thank goodness! Otherwise, all that time and energy I spent as an adolescent sussing out what they are would’ve been wasted. Vive La Différence!

    As to inherent differences beyond the physical, my default position is to be skeptical, but open to persuasion by the evidence.

  11. Lizard Breath
    Posted March 2, 2018 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    Damore’s memo, full of out of context and cherry picked data with unsubstantiated conclusions (disputed by the very scientists he quotes), isn’t a serious conversation about human difference. It’s an attempt to make permanent a power dynamic that shouldn’t exist in the first place. That’s not an excuse to shut him down – it’s a reason why he should be completely ignored.

    As someone who’s had to battle these kinds of ideas ever since I was a small child in order to be “allowed” to do math and science, I am just a little intolerant of the level of credence given to his nonsense.

    • Posted March 2, 2018 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

      That is an unsurprising summation in some corners of the net; Damore is a witch and deserves to be ignored, if not burned. Even though it wasn’t intended to be a scientific review of the data, fair enough. As Dr PCC(e) mentioned there are some holes in his arguments.

      But what about the findings cited above by Stoet and Geary, which support Damore’s claims that there is a difference in preferences between men and women? Not only that, those differences are manifested most often in countries where women have greater freedoms. Should their work be ignored too?

      If we must ignore the people who makes these substantiated claims, what do YOU think ought to be done about the issue?

      • Lizard Breath
        Posted March 2, 2018 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

        Oh for crying out loud. I said Damore should be ignored because his arguments are crap. I didn’t say he should be burned – indeed, I clearly said that I don’t even think he should be shut down. Strawman.

        I commented on the Stoet and Geary post. No, of course, their work shouldn’t be ignored but, as Dr. PCC(e) also said – it needs to be replicated.

        I think Damore should be ignored for the very clear reasons that I gave. I made no statement about ignoring other people. Although, yeah, sure, why should I pay attention to any idiot with a megaphone?

        What do I think out to be done about the issue? What is the issue?

        • Posted March 2, 2018 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

          The Stoet and Geary paper showed some of his arguments aren’t crap. In fact they make some of the very same ones. Damore should be ignored but not Stoet and Geary?

          The “issue” is the underrepresentation of women in some STEM fields, of course, and what -if anything- should be done about it. Apparently we are to ignore some of the arguments about why it exists and what to do about it.

          FTR, I said; “That is an unsurprising summation in some corners of the net; Damore is a witch and deserves to be ignored, if not burned.” I didn’t say you said he should be burned, but I can see why you thought I did. My apologies. I was trying to make a point, badly a it turned out, and that is an accurate description of the abuse that has been hurled at him –elsewhere.

          • Lizard Breath
            Posted March 2, 2018 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

            We are to ignore bozos who know how to use google to compile an argument that is simply an exercise in confirmation bias. That some of the arguments are based on good research just means we should be focused on those researchers not the bozo who is misusing their work. Same with climate deniers and creationists who use this same technique.

            We need to be very, very careful of any conclusions that women are less able or less interested in STEM. There are far too many variables and such arguments have been used for thousands of years to limit the choices of women and minorities while providing preferential access to white men. No, we can’t ignore studies that might show that a 50-50 split is an unreasonable goal. But we DO need to be really careful to not make policy decisions based on premature data. I think the researchers would agree with that.

            Just look at how quickly all-male (or nearly all) fields like doctors, veterinarians, and biologists have switched to predominantly (even strongly) female. So, men suddenly aren’t interested or able to do medicine? Handle animals? Play with Petri dishes? Or is something else at work?

            • nicky
              Posted March 3, 2018 at 4:21 am | Permalink

              That is exactly the point, you put your finger on it: “Just look at how quickly all-male (or nearly all) fields like doctors, veterinarians, and biologists have switched to predominantly (even strongly) female.” That happened as soon as more equal opportunities to study arose. And why did that not happen, or to a much lesser degree, for say IT/engineering?
              I think the ones most interested in the latter are the nerdy types, and nerdies are very often having a low (or not so low) autism spectrum disease. And it is an established fact that males diagnosed with ASD outnumber females 4 to 1.
              So, Damore could be wrong of course, but his hypothesis is not idiotic. And it could explain the difference in numbers of women in biology and medicine as opposed to IT and engineering.

              • Lizard Breath
                Posted March 3, 2018 at 8:57 am | Permalink

                Or, there could be a lot more going on than the self-serving hypothesis that women just aren’t interested in IT and engineering and maybe we should be looking at what the real scientists are saying instead of focusing on the cherry-picked arguments of a guy with a bad case of confirmation bias.

              • Diane G.
                Posted March 4, 2018 at 2:33 am | Permalink

                Also, biology and human and veterinary medicine are disciplines that have been around a long time. They were largely male-only fields for the greater part of their existence and women who tried to break into them ran into similar arguments about innate insuitability.

              • Lizard Breath
                Posted March 3, 2018 at 9:14 am | Permalink

                Oh, and if you think guys on the asperger’s spectrum being attracted to tech disproportionately explains the disparity, well, that same argument would seem to make the guys LESS likely than women to be good managers which is the opposite of what Damore is saying.

              • nicky
                Posted March 3, 2018 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

                Is has been argued that autism is an ‘extreme’ expression of a ‘male’ brain.
                I do think women generally make better managers than men indeed.

    • Craw
      Posted March 2, 2018 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

      The intolerance here seems to come from you. You don’t address his claims but his motives. And what exactly did he present “out of context”? Specifically.

      • Lizard Breath
        Posted March 2, 2018 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

        Damore references a study that indicates that women rate higher than men in neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness but he fails to note how small that difference is. Then he concludes that these differences in traits would make women less competitive at google. Neuroticism, maybe, but extraversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness? Those sound like traits you’d want in an employee.

      • Lizard Breath
        Posted March 2, 2018 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

        And, oh yes, I freely admitted my intolerance and why.

  12. J. Quinton
    Posted March 2, 2018 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    Thinking there are no biological differences between men and women is not harmless. When those sorts of people come across something like, say, autism, which has a massive gender imbalance (around 16:1), they will think that it must be something that we’re doing to kids that causes it.

    And we all know where that leads.

    • Posted March 3, 2018 at 1:00 am | Permalink

      They won’t do anything. After all, it’s the males who get the short end of the stick.

    • Posted March 5, 2018 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      There are people who wonder if the gender differences *elsewhere* is precisely why there appear to be many more males suffer from autism. I.e., the autistic traits themselves are different (statistically speaking, of course) enough that things are confusing. I have met formally diagnosed women who were “typically autistic” but I have also met some, not formally diagnosed, who seem to have what seem to be “analogous” traits, like a great deal of difficulty in understanding how she is seen by others.

  13. Taz
    Posted March 2, 2018 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    According to Ars Technica, there’s another lawsuit against Google:

    A former YouTube employee has sued Google—the video site’s parent company—alleging that he was wrongfully terminated from his position after he complained against hiring practices that he claimed were discriminatory against white and Asian men.
    . . .
    In April of 2017, Google’s Technology Staffing Management team was instructed by Alogna to immediately cancel all Level 3 (0-5 years experience) software engineering interviews with every single applicant who was not either female, Black, or Hispanic and to purge entirely any applications by non-diverse employees from the hiring pipeline. Plaintiff refused to comply with this request.

    Are Technica Article

    IANAL, but if this is accurate it seems to me it could very well be illegal, especially refusing to even consider applications by members of certain ethnic groups.

    • Taz
      Posted March 2, 2018 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

      For some reason my blockquotes didn’t work. The second and third paragraphs are from the article.

      • Craw
        Posted March 2, 2018 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

        If he can prove that then I think there are crimes not just torts here.

    • Lizard Breath
      Posted March 2, 2018 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

      I was told that I was hired for my first two jobs only because HR told them they had to hire a woman. The truth was a bit different.

      In the first case, only women applied for the job. Management didn’t want to hire a woman and wanted to readvertise the job. HR asked, are any of the applicants qualified? Management said yes. HR said, you have to hire one of the qualified applicants then.

      There was a man that management wanted to hire for the second job I applied for (with a different agency). Two women (including me) were scored higher by HR (based on academics and experience) than the guy. HR told management that if they wanted to hire the guy, they had to hire the two better qualified women, too, which they did….at a lower pay scale than the guy.

      Sometimes these stories of “reverse” discrimination are distorted.

      • Taz
        Posted March 2, 2018 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

        And some times stories of regular discrimination are distorted. It’s good to be skeptical.

        • Lizard Breath
          Posted March 2, 2018 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

          Are you saying you don’t believe me?

          • nicky
            Posted March 3, 2018 at 5:54 am | Permalink

            Well I do believe you.
            I note that HR was correct in both cases. In the first case the management was forced to make the right choice, in the second one the company appears to have had too much money hiring 3 when only one was needed.
            I do not think anybody here denies that there has been, and in some cases there still is, a bias against hiring women.
            I am one of those, at least young women: they get pregnant and go on maternity leave, crippling the service :), so I’m biased in favour of middle aged women (it is about specialised nurses, so it is not so much men against women, as young against middle aged).

    • Posted March 10, 2018 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      It seems to me that some think it OK and even mandatory that, to compensate for past banishment of women from certain careers, today’s female applicants should be preferred to better qualified male applicants.

  14. Jake Sevins
    Posted March 3, 2018 at 12:51 am | Permalink

    I got into deep water on Facebook asking out loud why Damore was being demonized for his memo. Several female friends who work at Google said Damore was claiming that “women are not fit to be engineers” (Huh?) and that I was “part of the problem” for failing to condemn him and his memo.

    It was my first time colliding with these issues with personal friends/acquaintances. Heartbreaking…

  15. EliHershkovitz
    Posted March 3, 2018 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    The vexing encroachment of social justice into the workplace and the ever-expanding verboten topics of research makes me wonder whether this movement will gain traction or flame out.


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