Google’s vice president of diversity, integrity and governance has condemned a leaked internal memo from a senior software engineer, which argues that women are underrepresented in tech because of biological factors such as “men’s higher drive for status” and women being “more prone to anxiety”.
The 10-page essay dubbed ‘Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber’ is the latest in a series of gender-based controversies to come out of Silicon Valley this year. It was brought into the public domain by Motherboard after several employees tweeted their response to the document.
The script argues against the search giant’s inclusivity and diversity strategy on the grounds that – from a non-biased standpoint – “men and women biologically differ in many ways” and that “these differences aren’t just socially constructed”.
The writer goes onto to purport that because “women generally also have a stronger interest in people rather than things, relative to men” and have more “openness directed towards feelings and aesthetics rather than ideas”, they evolutionarily have “a harder time negotiating salary, asking for raises, speaking up, and leading”. The author also puts forward a number of other suggestions as to why men tend to succeed more in the tech field that are free from matters of unconscious bias.
Danielle Brown, who only took up the role as Google’s vice president of diversity, integrity and governance in June, has responded to staff in her own memo.
She wrote: “…like many of you, I found that [the engineer’s memo] advanced incorrect assumptions about gender … it’s not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages.
“Part of building an open, inclusive environment means fostering a culture in which those with alternative views, including different political views, feel safe sharing their opinions. But that discourse needs to work alongside the principles of equal employment found in our Code of Conduct, policies, and anti-discrimination laws.”
Google, which has suffered its fair share of crises this year, was accused of ‘extreme’ gender pay discrimination by the US Department of Labor in April this year.