Culture

Google fires diversity memo author

A Google employee who wrote a controversial memo that went viral about workplace diversity has been fired.

The memo broke the firm’s code of conduct, Google’s chief executive Sundar Pichai said on Monday in an email to employees. The memo, shared widely online at the weekend, suggested there were fewer women at Google due to biological differences.

Mr Pichai said the text crossed the line due to it “advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace”.

Titled Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber, the paper argued that “the abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership”.

The author wrote: “We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism.” The author also says women generally “prefer jobs in social or artistic areas” while “more men may like coding”.

Google has not confirmed who the employee is, but the media is reporting his name as as James Damore. “[I was fired for] perpetuating gender stereotypes,” he told Reuters.

The memo has split opinion, with some online agreeing and supporting Mr Damore and others disgusted at the memo. He also claimed to have received “many personal messages from fellow Googlers expressing their gratitude” for speaking out.

The senior software engineer had worked at Google since 2013 and had previously studied computational biology at Princeton, Harvard and the University of Illinois where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2010 in the top 3% of his class, according to his CV posted online.

Mr Damore has now said he would “likely be pursuing legal action”.

Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, said on Tuesday that he would like to hire Damore, declaring “censorship is for losers”. Writing on Twitter he said: “WikiLeaks is offering a job to fired Google engineer James Damore. Women and men deserve respect. That includes not firing them for politely expressing ideas but rather arguing back.”

He added: “I value intellectual diversity and workers rights to not be fired for politely expressing the ‘wrong’ opinion.”

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