by Tabatha Southey
Tabatha Southey: James Damore is suing Google for discrimination over his memo. But his beliefs ignore truths about science—and his own industry
That James Damore launched a series of earnest “Is there a bias against women in tech?” stories by sending out a 10-page internal memo in August detailing his bias against women in tech, says so much about what many women in science are up against.
… While he’s hardly alone, Damore’s laborious effort provides indisputable evidence of the attitudes that many women in STEM face.
When a woman submits her resume, she knows it may be read by a Damore.
When she negotiates a raise—an arena in which she’sdamned if she does and, as the Google memo explains, too innately high in “agreeableness” if she doesn’t—she weighs the possibility that she’s negotiating with a Damore.
When a woman takes maternity leave, she wonders how many of her colleagues are Damores, dismissing her as someone innately lacking the “drive for status.”
Damores are everywhere. Great flocks of Damores perch in their offices—or worse, on the corner of your desk when you’re up to your neck in stack traces—depositing their opinions on IQ differences on passersby and filling the air with their cry of “Women relatively prefer jobs in social or artistic areas.”
The percentage of women working in STEM has remained nearly stagnant for 30 years in Canada, and the reasons for this include having to work alongside the kind of man who might confidently explain, in defiance of the research, that differences between men and women “aren’t just socially constructed because they’re universal across human cultures.” Women comprised 20 per cent of the STEM workforce in 1987 and 22 per cent in 2015, while the number of women earning STEM degrees increased.
Despite what we’re sagely told, women are attracted to and are adept in these fields. That said, if research later shows that women are actually just biologically predisposed to accidentally earning a computer-science degree when all they wanted was to find LADY 101: Introduction to Cupcake Baking, I’ll bake James Damore cupcakes.
Many critics dismantled Damore’s science. …
Damore’s plodding in the muddy field of evolutionary biology hoping to prove that women are “on average” (his favourite caddish caveat) born to run art galleries is in the long tradition of men asserting that women’s biology means they can’t, for example, build munitions or planes—that is, right up until men desperately need them to build munitions and planes, at which point we apparently genetically reengineer ourselves with a hairnet and get to work.
…Producing good tech, even just determining just what products people want and how they’ll use them, requires the very empathy that Damore decries, not to mention teamwork.
The remainder of that post is here.