James Damore, a systems engineer for Google who wrote a widely-shared memo entitled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” discussing gender differences between men and women, as well as Google’s bias against views with which they disagree, was fired on Monday for “perpetuating gender stereotypes” in a memo with which the company disagreed.
Damore, a Harvard graduate who had been working at Google for four years, according to his Facebook account, responded on Saturday to the wide-ranging public response to his 10-page internal memo by saying many in the company were afraid to speak out about the issues he discussed for fear of being fired.
“I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don’t endorse using stereotypes,” said Damore. “Despite what the public response seems to have been, I’ve gotten many personal messages from fellow Googlers expressing their gratitude for bringing up these very important issues which they agree with but would never have the courage to say or defend because of our shaming culture and the possibility of being fired. This needs to change.”
Two days later, Damore lost his job for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.” He told Bloomberg Technology in an email that he is currently considering “all possible legal remedies.”
Google’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, said in a statement to his employees that James Damore had crossed “the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace,” adding that: “to suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK.”
“The memo has clearly impacted our co-workers, some of whom are hurting and feel judged based on their gender,” said Pichai. According to NPR, a Google employee claimed that “some women at the company skipped work [on Monday], upset by the leaked memo.”
CEO Pichai’s remarks follow those of the tech giant’s vice president of “diversity, integrity, and governance,” Danielle Brown, who argued Damore’s document “advanced incorrect assumptions about gender,” claiming its message is “not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages.”
Google has been under fire from some on the right who claim the company targets conservative viewpoints and is hypocritical on the issue of free speech. Last week, Google’s video-sharing platform, YouTube, released new guidelines concerning “controversial content,” saying that videos containing “controversial religious or supremacist content” will be subject to a list of restrictions.
Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, a professor at the University of Toronto who makes YouTube videos on psychology, political correctness, and, most recently, the Bible, was locked out of his account for several hours for an unnamed “policy violation.” On Twitter, the professor announced he would be speaking with the fired Google engineer and posting a video of the interview.
The reaction to the system engineer’s firing has been mixed, but substantial. On Twitter, conservative columnist Ben Shapiro tweeted several times, defending the memo and its author.