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Memo on women crossed line, offensive: Google CEO Sundar Pichai

10 August 2017, 12:42 | Gina Pena

Google's infamous manifesto author is already a hero to the online right

Google worker's call for end to positive discrimination in favour of women and ethnic minority staff sparks backlash

James Damore, 28, a software engineer at Google since 2013, graduated from the UI in 2010, a UI spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday.

Damore was sacked for circulating a 10-page anti-diversity memo in which he claimed that men are more biologically suited to coding jobs than neurotic women. Some complained about being hired into lower-level positions than men with the same work experience and education levels. Other supporters raised more than $5,000 on a crowdfunding campaign to help Damore fight his firing.

This situation has sparked a fierce debate online.

Vox described Damore's memo as "anti-diversity". The lesson from Intel, Brown explained when she was that company's diversity czar, was: Public pressure and scrutiny makes goals more real.

This incident has ignited a whole new issue surrounding free speech and where to draw the line. But that move alone doesn't mean the company is free from sexism. "I have a legal right to express my concerns about the terms and conditions of my working environment and to bring up potentially illegal behavior, which is what my document does", Damore said.

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Damore used the "manifesto" to argue the company is intolerant of conservative political views. Private employers can largely fire workers for any reason. Someone that works for one of the world's biggest companies actually believes this in 2017. These include culturally-embedded gender stereotypes, biased socialization practices, in some cultures explicit employment discrimination, and a certain degree of masculinization of technological workplaces.

"Though there's been plenty of outrage over the (Damore) post among Google employees and others in the tech industry, there are also significant numbers who have welcomed it", said Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research in a blog post. But perhaps that has more to do with the current makeup of Google than the strength of Damore's ideas.

According to a business Insider report, Google is also embroiled in a legal dispute with the Department of Labor, which has accused Google of "systemic compensation disparities" between men and women.

Google was also under investigation by the federal government earlier this year for allegedly underpaying its female employees, an accusation it denies.

What's more, his dismissal doesn't solve Google's diversity problem. The right isn't exactly a champion of diversity these days, and many conservatives continue to argue the gender pay gap is a myth. In the past three years, women in tech roles have grown from 17 percent to 20 percent (from 19 percent to 20 percent over the last year) and women in leadership roles have grown from 21 percent to 25 percent (from 24 percent to 25 percent over the last year). "But while people may have a right to express their beliefs in public, that does not mean companies can not take action when women are subjected to comments that perpetuate negative stereotypes about them based on their gender". "I guarantee this is the struggle they have inside the company: People who want to come out really strong against this manifesto and say there isn't a place for this at Google" while still maintaining "that an opinion shouldn't jeopardize your job", she told Wired.

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