UPDATED: Google has identified and fired the employee, James Damore, who drafted the controversial "manifesto." Damore confirmed his dismissal in an email to Bloomberg, saying that he had been fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes” and that he’s “currently exploring all possible legal remedies.”
The hits just keep on coming. From pay disparities to widespread sexual harassment allegations, it’s a tough time for women working in Silicon Valley. Now, an anti-diversity “manifesto” written by an anonymous male Google employee is taking the tech world by storm for deriding the company’s efforts to recruit and retain women and for perpetuating some, ahem, antiquated beliefs about gender differences. (You have to give Google credit: The company immediately issued a statement disavowing the disgruntled employee’s 10-page tirade.)
If you haven’t had a chance to check out the document in full, you definitely should, at least for the laughs. It’s a classic case of Mansplaining 101. Listen up, women: He’s read a subreddit on natural selection. He subscribes to Wired. He knows stuff. And he’s about to tell us why our little lady brains and our big bleeding lady hearts just can’t handle the testosterone-driven world of tech. (Let us pause here to LOLOLOL.)
If you thought systemic bias and outdated cultural norms play a big part in keeping women out of tech—and the C-suite in general—this gentleman wants to set you straight. You see, he has strong words for his company’s “discriminatory” and “unfair and divisive” practices to hire and promote more women and people of color.
First of all, he breaks down what makes us ladies so gosh-darn bad at succeeding in tech. (Don’t worry, he makes sure to note it’s #NotAllWomen.) His psych degree from Google University has taught him that women “have a stronger interest in people rather than things, relative to men.” These differences, he goes on to explain, are why women prefer jobs in “social or artistic areas.” Women also have “higher agreeableness” which “leads to women generally having a harder time negotiating salary, asking for raises, speaking up and leading.”
But our favorite part? When he says women, on average, have more “neuroticism," which he describes as "higher anxiety, lower stress tolerance.”
Ah, that old saw. Labeling women as “hysteric” or “neurotic” is one of the oldest tricks of the trade for misogynists, so color us not-shocked that he chose this particular word. Curiously, it’s one of the few places in his rant where our dear Dr. Google doesn’t hide behind the phrase “Research suggests …” Maybe it’s because he’s patently wrong.
That’s right, buddy. I’ve got a degree from Google University too. And I’d like to propose some alternate theories as to why there are fewer women in tech:
Maybe it’s because as soon as they’re born we hand little boys toys that encourage “spatial skills, science, building” and we give girls toys that emphasize “appearance” and “nurturance.” Maybe it’s because teachers have lower expectations of girls’ math skills, creating a gender gap that begins in kindergarten. Maybe that bias creates a confidence problem in girls that leads far fewer of them to pursue physics, computer science and engineering. Maybe it’s because girls are naturally fascinated by math and science but are conditioned by society to lose interest by age 15. Maybe it’s because boys have a much higher exposure to computing during that time frame, which is a crucial time for cementing interest in the field.
Maybe it’s because once women get degrees in computer science, they are locked out of the field by an array of “professional organizations, networks and hierarchies" that favor men. Maybe it’s because when women apply for tech jobs, they are generally seen by employers as less competent and hirable as their male peers—even though women are actually better coders. Maybe it’s because women in the industry feel isolated, undermined and excluded. Maybe it’s because they’re constantly interrupted in meetings. Maybe it’s because they are routinely forced to attend work events where women are treated as sex objects. Maybe it’s because they are sexually harassed. And sexually harassed again. And again. And again. Maybe it’s because they’ve been told they are both “too aggressive” and “too quiet.” Maybe it’s because no matter how hard they work and how little they complain, they’re still not likely to reach the C-Suite. Maybe it’s because when they want to start their own venture, they’re far less likely to find funding. Maybe it’s because they’re paid less for the same work, especially if they’re a black woman, or a mother. Maybe it’s because they receive fewer raises—even though, yes, women do ask for raises just as often as men.
Speaking of motherhood, maybe it’s because after they have a kid, women are perceived as less ambitious, even though they’re actually more ambitious. Maybe it’s because America’s terrible paid leave policies and exorbitantly expensive childcare costs push more moms out of the workforce. (Caveat: The tech industry is more generous in this regard.) Maybe it’s because after putting in a long, thankless day at work, they go home to handle the bulk of the housework and childcare. Maybe it’s because, despite being married to a perfectly capable man, they also shoulder the weight of the mental load. Maybe it’s because after countless hours, days and years spent fighting and fighting and fighting against all of this, they’re just too damn tired.
But nah, bro. You’re probably right. Women are just too neurotic.