Silicon Valley prides itself on diversity, tolerance, and an adherence to science-based politics.
But woe to you if you work for one of the booming tech corridor’s top companies and profess anything other than region’s narrowly constructed political ideology.
At least, that’s the message Google sent its employees after firing a top programmer for challenging the hiring policies of his company in an internal memo. In that memo, he said the company had become an “ideological echo chamber,” overly focused on identity-group rather than merit-based hiring practices.
Once this memo became public on Monday, the press went into a frenzy. The hapless Google engineer, caught in a media firestorm, was axed shortly thereafter.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a statement that the employee, James Damore, was terminated on Monday because parts of the memo violate the company’s “Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”
So what was Damore’s egregious gender stereotyping?
In a 3,000-word report, filled with data, charts, and a healthy amount of fact-based reasoning, the Google employee wrote that the gender gap in employment at the company might not be because of bias, but instead due to genuine differences between men and women.
He wrote that “on average, men and women biologically differ in many ways,” and this is what perhaps explains the higher numbers of men in the tech field rather than rampant sexism. For example, he mentioned that women, on average, relate to people more than things as compared to men.
He also noted that many of these common differences are small, but are likely to lead to skewed distributions of men and women in career fields.
Damore added some charts and studies in his memo that he said backed up these assertions.
These are not radical claims. For perhaps a variety of reasons—including early childhood interest, personality, and simple biology—men tend to gravitate toward STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields more than women.
Importantly, Damore was careful to note that the numbers he referenced are simply averages that don’t necessarily apply to individuals—though the media often twisted his argument to insinuate Damore was saying women are biologically unsuited to work in tech. Ultimately, his memo argues that Google’s policies should be based on individual merit, not groups and quotas.
He then offered noncoercive solutions to the challenge of gender gaps at Google, including ways to be more accommodating to women in the office.
None of this mattered. Damore was immediately sent to the chopping block.
While it is Google’s right as a private organization to fire employees for violating company practices, it is not in line with a policy that asks employees to be frank and truthful with their superiors and co-workers.
The New York Times reported, “Google has long promoted a culture of openness, with employees allowed to question senior executives and even mock its strategy in internal forums.”
Perhaps Damore mistakenly took this policy at face value.
With seemingly no awareness of the irony, Google’s new diversity chief said of the memo that in the wake of the employee’s firing, the company will remain “unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success.”
Far from a bastion of freethinking and tolerance, the heart of America’s tech sector is devolving into a stultifying monoculture where honest disagreement must be sacrificed at the altar of political correctness.
It is a worrying thought to consider that an industry that attracts the best and brightest minds from around the country, and the globe, has fallen into the trap of militant groupthink.
To stray even slightly from PC norms will incur the wrath of ever-watchful diversity departments—constantly monitoring and judging what is an acceptable level of deviation from enforced political thought.
Like in the final stages of revolutionary France—and mirroring the relentless assault on free speech at our college campuses—the philosophy of “diversity and inclusion” in Silicon Valley has been warped into a tool used against all dissenters.
In Silicon Valley, “science” is not king, nor is truth, nor even inclusion. The PC gods must be worshipped—or else heads must roll.