The James Damore Google Tech-Bro Meme Stating that Women are Biologically Unsuited to Work at Tech Professions (Part 1)
(( Part 2 ))
I am a conservative and never have been a supporter of P.C. (political correctness).
Do liberals sometimes create a climate of fear and dread such that any one who does not support their views feels too afraid to speak up and disagree?
I’d say yes, most definitely. Even this one liberal tech lady admits to that, and she’s not okay with it.
A young Google employee named James Damore wrote a ten page memo (memo? That’s more like a research paper) explaining why he believes there are not more women working in STEM- related fields.
Some of Damore’s views supposedly hinge on biology: he believes there are biological reasons that explain women’s career choices, or how women are treated in technological based careers.
I am going to hit this point home off and on in this blog post and the next, should I break this up into more than one post:
If Damore had written that he’s seen studies that suggest that black people are biologically superior than white people at picking cotton on plantations and not as biologically adept at working on computers as whites, and should therefore not be employed at coding with a tech firm, your reaction to those views would be, what? Would you be just as angry or sad that he was fired by his employer?
Damore does not cite the research, if he used any (not that I saw, and I looked several times on a site that copied his memo).
He just states things as fact, things such as,
Women, on average, have more:
- Openness directed towards feelings and aesthetics rather than ideas. Women generally also have a stronger interest in people rather than things, relative to men (also interpreted as empathizing vs. systemizing).
(end Damore quote. Source)
…Many of Damore’s controversial conclusions rest heavily on one recent study and much older, now-discredited research, ignoring reams of data that tell a very different story. (source here, and excerpts in Part 2, at bottom of page)
He also states (and I will return to this later)
…Women, on average, have more:
- Extraversion expressed as gregariousness rather than assertiveness. Also, higher agreeableness.
- This leads to women generally having a harder time negotiating salary, asking for raises, speaking up, and leading. Note that these are just average differences and there’s overlap between men and women, but this is seen solely as a women’s issue. This leads to exclusory programs like Stretch and swaths of men without support.
- Neuroticism (higher anxiety, lower stress tolerance)…..
I have no idea where he is getting these ideas from.
What research is he referring to? I did not see book titles or URLs listed. There is no “works cited” page under his memo anywhere that I could see.
Damore has a section in his memo entitled, “Non-discriminatory ways to reduce the gender gap” with bullet points of suggestions.
Damore later says, “I strongly believe in gender and racial diversity…”
If he truly means he wants greater diversity, he has a strange way of going about it.
If Damore is being serious in trying to find ways of getting more women into tech, where he is basically ignoring that women are conditioned since childhood in such a way to avoid STEM careers, and then making sexist suggestions (i.e., that the average woman is “born” more emotional), is not the way to go about it.
The stereotypes he’s re-enforcing are some of the very ones that bar women from wanting to enter challenging careers, that make women feel, when they are girls, that they won’t be any good at math or science, so why bother trying, and are the same ones that cause some males to think that women are not as capable as men.
Some sites are framing this situation as he believes women are “unsuitable” – with a connotation they are too inept – to work in technology.
Damore was later fired from Google over this memo, which really outraged a lot of non-liberals, such as conservatives.
As far as I am concerned, there are two separate issues going on here: his firing – was it right or wrong? – and the assertions he made in his paper that are based, really, on assumptions he has about women, though he cited one or two scientific studies.
Should Damore have been fired for his views or for espousing them at his job? Maybe, maybe not.
I cannot really come down on the “should he be fired” issue definitively, though I am leaning towards, I’m okay that he was, in fact, fired (I explain why towards the end).
The deed was done. He was fired. He’s already fired.
Analyzing the fact at this point is different, in my view, than in debating a hypothetical, ‘is it okay for an employer to fire a guy for posting debatably sexist stuff on their site.’
Do I agree with some of Damore’s perspectives, that women are biologically made to do or prefer X, or Y, or that women are not as good at Z as men are, due to biological reasons? No.
I am more concerned that a young man holds to biases against women – and that he thinks this is acceptable because it’s supposedly based in biology – than I do that Google fired him over the memo.
Do I necessarily agree with his firing? I can’t say as though I am deeply perturbed by it, the more that I think about it.
Consider this. Substitute the phrase “black people” for the word “women” in his memo and see if it still works for you.
Other than a small number of present day racists (like Neo Nazis), I don’t know of many non-liberals who would feel it acceptable for a tech employee to argue (on company time and on a company web site) the reason there are not more black people in tech careers is that black people are biologically incapable of holding tech careers.
Who would feel comfortable with a memo by a tech employee who argues,
“Studies show that whites out-perform blacks, blacks are lazy, and black people would rather eat watermelon all day than sit at a computer and code. White people’s brains are larger, and hence, obviously better suited for technical tasks. Whites are more naturally predisposed for being assertive and asking for pay raises, so only whites should receive leadership roles in businesses”
Outside of a small number of kooks (sorry to say I used to see one at a conservative blog I used to visit), I am hard pressed to think of any one else who would support such racist rhetoric – most would condemn it, and rightly so.
So why is it, when the subject is sexism – not racism? – so many people, especially other conservatives, are indifferent about it, or chalk it up to liberal, feminist nuttiness or political correctness, when it’s disputed or generates offense and anger?
Why do a majority of conservatives largely condemn racism (as they should) – but give sexism a pass?
Later in his memo, Damore says (again, the source):
Women on average are more prone to anxiety. Make tech and leadership less stressful.
I came across an article last week that says that more women tend to suffer from anxiety than men do.
However, Damore wants to extrapolate several things about women from this, and in so doing, is conflating or confusing different topics, to the detriment of women (the women he says he wants to help, LOL).
For one thing, Damore is assuming that tech jobs are more stressful or anxiety-provoking for women.
Has Damore not considered that it’s possible that women prone to anxiety wouldn’t feel anxious about working in a tech field?
It’s possible that if a woman does experience anxiety working at Google, it’s not because she’s a woman, but because the work environment there is harsh or sexist.
I used to work in a somewhat tech-related field. I did just fine on my full time job. The job itself did not provoke anxiety in me.
Do you know what did provoke anxiety for me? My second year there, the employer hired a new project manager who made it her daily to weekly goal to harass and bully me on the job for the next few years just because she enjoyed it.
I ended up quitting that position because I was being bullied, and why was this?
Women Are Not Born Passive, Most Are Socialized To Be So From The Time They Are Girls
I ended up quitting the job I had rather than assert myself and stand up to the jerk of a boss…
Because my traditional Christian parents, who believed in traditional gender roles, raised me to believe that it is wrong and un-godly for a female to be assertive, defend herself, speak up, and practice boundaries.
Damore wrongly claims in his piece that women are just naturally passive and unassertive.
No, Damore, we ladies are conditioned to be weak, quiet, unassuming, and passive. We’re not born that way; we are pressured to be that way. If we take on traits such as assertiveness, which is praised in men, we will receive derogatory names such as “ball busters” or “bitches” by male co-workers (and sometimes by female ones).
Now, we can get into debates about who is more aggressive, men or women, and I would gather studies probably show that men are more often more aggressive because they have more testosterone than most women – but –
However – a lot of American women are in fact socialized from the time they are girls – by their parents, churches, teachers, media, and peers – to be docile, gentle, and passive, and are ostracized and scolded by teachers, bosses, friends, parents, and others when or if they display characteristics associated with males, such as assertiveness and ambitiousness.
And some in American culture continue to deny this is a fact (see, for example, some of the responses below this NY Post tweet – You see mostly men in that exchange wondering why the girl in question didn’t just slap or punch the man who groped her.
That’s because as boys, those commentators were socialized to fight back, they were taught that as boys it is socially acceptable for them to slap, punch, yell, and show anger. Girls do not often receive those same lessons and messages).
Girls and women are “supposed to” be self-depreciating and to only meet the needs of others and are punished when or if they step out of those culturally approved roles.
Asking For A Pay Raise
There have been several studies I’ve seen published online the last few years that explain that women rarely ask for pay raises at their jobs, because they are afraid to – women are not encouraged or taught it’s acceptable for them to go after what they want, and to play up their accomplishments.
Yet other studies say that women will or do ask for raises as often but don’t get them as often as men do.
Some of these same studies have pointed out that employers will penalize women who ask for more money, but not male employees who ask. And this is so, these articles say, because on a subconscious level, people do not like it, or feel comfortable, when women step outside of traditional gender roles.
Here are a few links about that – and note that, contra Damore, biology does not factor in here, but societal expectations and social conditioning:
… That’s because when women do request either a raise or a higher starting salary they are more likely than men to be perceived as greedy, demanding or just not very nice.
“To do that requires being assertive, taking initiative, probably taking out your list of accomplishments and thereby self-promoting,” said Laura Kray, a professor of leadership at the University of California at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. “It turns out people don’t like it when women do this.”
Kray said both male and female supervisors can have these negative feelings about women when they ask for more money. And that can hold back women’s careers—either because they don’t get as much money, or because they do but they endure the repercussions of not being very well-liked.
Hannah Riley Bowles, a senior lecturer at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and the director of the Women and Power program, has been studying gender effects on negotiation through laboratory studies, case studies, and extensive interviews with executives and employees in diverse fields.
She’s repeatedly found evidence that our implicit gender perceptions mean that the advice that women stand up for themselves and assert their position strongly in negotiations may not have the intended effect. It may even backfire.
In four studies, Bowles and collaborators from Carnegie Mellon found that people penalized women who initiated negotiations for higher compensation more than they did men.
… But it’s only women [not men] who subsequently suffer a penalty: people report that they would be less inclined to work with them, be it as coworkers, subordinates, or bosses.
Patriarchy a Cause of Some of Damore’s Complaints
In his memo, Damore writes:
The male gender role is currently inflexible
Feminism has made great progress in freeing women from the female gender role, but men are still very much tied to the male gender role.
If we, as a society, allow men to be more “feminine,” then the gender gap will shrink, although probably because men will leave tech and leadership for traditionally feminine roles.
Ironically, the reason gender roles for men remain inflexible is because of the patriarchal culture we’re living in – the one that tends to favor men. The one that a lot of my fellow conservatives deny exists.
As C C James explains:
Patriarchy is not the Bible’s message because it’s predicated upon the select few hoarding their power and simultaneously forcing everyone else to submit to them.
This fallen system thwarts women from flourishing and actually wounds more men than it benefits.
According to James, “Many men spend their entire lives hopelessly trapped at the bottom [of the pyramid]—trapped and exploited by other men or by disadvantaging circumstances of birth.”
Only a few men can be at the top of the male hierarchy pyramid at any one time. The rest of the men are below the “top dog” and women and children are always at the very bottom.
Patriarchy – sexism – hurts men, too. It only benefits a percentage of men (but women are always below men. Even the lowest of men on this totem pole are still above women).
As much as so many conservatives and Christians hate left wing, secular feminism, the majority of secular feminists (I’ve actually read their work first hand, not merely conservative rebuttals or caricatures of it) also believe that sexism harms men, and that is one reason they work against it.
In other words, many to most left wing feminists are not man-haters who want to live in a matriarchy and boss men around – this remains an unfortunate stereotype that other conservatives and a lot of Christians have of them all as a group.
Black History Month
The Harm of Google’s biases
I strongly believe in gender and racial diversity, and I think we should strive for more. However, to achieve a more equal gender and race representation, Google has created several discriminatory practices:
Programs, mentoring, and classes only for people with a certain gender or race
I am not a liberal. I sure don’t agree with everything liberals say.
However. I do think there is some merit to some of their points. For example, as I’ve gotten older, I now understand why some American public schools have a “black history month.” Growing up, I didn’t understand.
Now that I’m older, I grasp this. I now see why schools have a “black history month,” or a “women’s history month.”
It’s because the default of American culture has always been all about white men – as liberals will usually be happy to tell you, and this is one area where I think liberals have a point. It’s “white men American culture” all year round already; that is why white men do not need a special month in recognition just for them.
I’d say, if Google or companies like it, want to host some class for black people only or women only, it may be because (white) men are already, due to having culture rigged in their favor from the start, excelling at X, Y, and Z, so that other groups need additional help, attention, or alternate routes to success with X, Y, or Z.
If Google does not have programs, mentoring, and so on, specifically for white men in place, it’s likely because white men do not need them and have been doing fine without them – because white guys already have all the advantages, or more advantages than say, women or black people in whatever particular area Google is offering mentoring or programs for.
Under a section of his memo entitled “Why We’re Blind,” there is some cringe-worthy commentary, such as:
…the Left tends to deny science concerning biological differences between people (e.g., IQ and sex differences).
(end Damore quote)
I am right wing. I’m not left wing, so I’m sure as hey not denying “science” or anything else based on a political agenda, so how would Damore respond to my disagreement with his assertions? I’m a conservative who is disagreeing with him, not a left winger.
In this same paragraph, under the “why we’re blind” heading, Damore uses the phrase “confirmation bias,” which I find very ironic – because he’s engaging in some of this himself.
Damore is seeing what he wants to see about women in tech.
He’s deriving sexist conclusions based on some study or so that he says that he’s read (but that I don’t see him citing). He’s actually making assumptions based on cultural stereotypes, while having us all believe it’s all hard-backed science.
Society Is Not Predisposed to “Protect Women”
In his memo, Damore states:
In addition to the Left’s affinity for those it sees as weak, humans are generally biased towards protecting females.
Other than Benevolent Sexists, no. I must call “foul” on this.
A lot of men out there claim to care about women, but they end up throwing women under the bus, they do not protect women.
Christian gender complementarians are among THE WORST at this – claiming they love and respect women and are opposed to domestic violence and so on, but they treat women horribly. Complementarians are not protective of women, the liars.
I could go on to list many more news reports about churches who have not helped abused wives who came to them for help, and similar scenarios of complementarians hurting women.
In light of stories such as these, please tell me again how society protects women?
(Things get even worse if we examine Muslim dominated states or India, where it’s routine for women to be raped, killed for being raped, hanged, have acid thrown in their faces, etc)
You Say You’re Against Sexism – But You Promote Sexism
Damore offers caveats and qualifiers in his paper, such as:
I hope it’s clear that I’m not saying that diversity is bad, that Google or society is 100% fair, that we shouldn’t try to correct for existing biases, or that minorities have the same experience of those in the majority. …
But given that the rest of his paper is filled sexism under a guise of wanting to “help” women, I’d say he’s negated his qualifiers.
He also states:
I’m advocating for quite the opposite: treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group (tribalism).
But the rest of his paper has done just that: he treats women as a group en masse, as though women are not individuals, as though women all roll off an assembly line, and states that due to biology, the “average” (most) women are better or worse at X, Y, Z.
(continued in Part 2) – (( Part 2 ))
Part 2 has some really good links in it, to editorials by other people who offer rebuttals to the Damore memo