What the Google Memo Says, and How the Media are Misrepresenting It

Many outlets dubbed James Damore's memo the "anti-diversity memo," despite his own statement that "I strongly believe in gender and racial diversity."

Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks at an event in 2015.

By Liberty McArtor Published on August 8, 2017

Google fired engineer James Damore Monday for his now-viral 10-page memo. In it he questioned the effectiveness of the company’s diversity programs. He also suggested that Google’s left-leaning bias silences opposing viewpoints. Leaked over the weekend, his memo quickly drew angry reactions on the internet.  

Many outlets dubbed Damore’s memo the “anti-diversity memo.” This is despite Damore stating that “I strongly believe in gender and racial diversity, and I think we should strive for more.” 

What Did the Memo Say?

Damore believes the liberal bias at Google leads to the silencing of certain opinions. Ideas cannot be “honestly discussed.” One such idea is the notion that the low number of women in technology-related fields is due to sexism. 

Damore explains his view that biological “personality differences,” not sexism, account for the disparity. Damore suggests women are “on average” interested in people over things. He also says they express “extraversion” through gregariousness instead of assertiveness. Finally, he writes that many women have a lower stress tolerance. He cites one scientific study and neurologist Simon Baron-Cohen, who has advanced theories about sex-based cognitive differences.

These differences could be why women are less likely to advance in tech and leadership roles, Damore writes. He adds that they are more likely to value a work-life balance. To help more women advance at Google, Damore offers solutions like “allowing and truly endorsing … part time work.” He also supports creating more opportunities for collaboration.

Damore goes on to critique Google’s approach to creating racial diversity. He says the result is more discrimination. As an example, he cites programs that are exclusive to one gender or race.

“I hope it’s clear that I’m not saying that diversity is bad, that Google or society is 100% fair,” Damore writes. “I’m also not saying that we should restrict people to certain gender roles.”

“I’m advocating for quite the opposite,” he continues. “Treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group (tribalism).”

He ends the memo with suggestions for how to promote thought diversity and create a fairer work environment. For more on Damore’s arguments, see these Stream articles by Dr. John Doe and William Briggs.

The Media’s Response 

A New York Times headline said Damore was fired for “Questioning Women in Tech.” CNN tweeted that Damore said “women aren’t biologically fit for tech jobs.” The Washington Post said Damore “wrote that women may be unsuited for tech jobs.” An alternate headline to the Post article, which appeared in a Google search, said Damore’s memo “bemoaned racial diversity.”

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 Time Magazine joined multiple outlets in falsely calling the memo “anti-diversity.” The Atlantic acknowledged this after correcting a similar headline. 

“He is not against pursuing greater gender diversity at Google,” Conor Friedersdorf writes. Only “against the current means Google is using to pursue that end.”

Damore links to several sources throughout his memo to back his claims. But Gizmodo posted a version that removes all hyperlinks, as well as charts from the original. (Here’s the original.)

Google’s Response

Google’s Vice President of Diversity Danielle Brown responded to Damore Monday night. Brown said he “advanced incorrect assumptions about gender.” But Brown acknowledged the need to allow employees with “alternative views” to express themselves. 

Google CEO Sundar Pichai ended a family vacation early to travel home amid the controversy. In an email shared by The Verge, he said “portions of the memo violate our Code of Conduct.” Pichai repeated the media’s popular narrative: that Damore thinks women are “less biologically suited” to work in tech. Pichai said some employees “are hurting and feel judged based on their gender.”

The CEO admitted that Damore raised “important topics.” He even said “people must feel free to express dissent,” and that Damore “had a right to express their views.” But neither Brown’s nor Pichai’s lip service to free expression stopped Damore from getting fired.

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  • Stephen D

    The proliferation of what are essentially autocratic giant corporations should be of grave concern to all who value liberty. The ethos within these organisations, affecting potentially many thousands of employees, is antidemocratic. Whatever their supposed ‘values’, they actually cannot tolerate dissenting voices, as this debacle shows.
    One man in a giant corporation that supposedly values ‘diversity’ has to be fired because he is perceived to be not PC. No fair trial. A clear miscarriage of justice. But Google has the power.
    The many thousands of employees who work in these places become insensible to the limitations being placed on their freedom. They become complicit in their own enslavement, and are unaware of the sinister force that controls their lives. This mindset is now infecting the wider society. No wonder the West is so complacent today, so willing to give up its freedom in return for ‘security’.

  • Andrew Mason

    Actually the description of the email as anti-diversity can be accurate, it just depends what diversity means. A traditionalconservative definition of diversity is something along the lines of; including great variety, many different kinds. A liberal definition of diversity would be something along the lines of containing a great variety of different looking things which sound the same. For instance, while CNN, HuffPo or Google may claim to have great diversity of staff, what is meant is that you have different looking people preaching the same message. When Trump says America is a diverse nation by contrast he means that not only is there a great variety of coloursshades of humans, there’s also a great variety of perspectives and viewpoints – including sane and not so sane. The email supported diversity, but it was the wrong kind of diversity, hence was deemed anti-diversity. It’s a bit like tolerance. Tolerant people are intolerant of those whom they deem to be intolerant and thus outside the requirement to be tolerated. Hmmm guess that means the KKK could be classes as tolerant right? 🙂

    It’s really a Through the Looking Glass argument:
    When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
    ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’
    ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.’

    The Left are determined to be master.

    • Hannah

      End game: “Well that depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is.”

  • Patmos

    I’m just so thankful Hillary isn’t in the White House for this. Could you imagine?

    I’m pretty thankful that Hillary isn’t in the White House just generally speaking, but for this especially.

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