7 things to know about the ex-Google employee's gender gap manifesto

A male software engineer at Google has been fired after he wrote an internal memo claiming women were underrepresented in the technology industry because of biological differences, rather than discrimination.

The memo was first reported by Motherboard and published in full by Gizmodo Aug. 5.

Here are seven things to know.

1. James Damore, the author of the memo, was a software engineer at Mountain View, Calif.-based Google. He has since been fired, but is "currently exploring all possible legal remedies" for his termination, which was the result of "perpetuating gender stereotypes," according an email he sent to Bloomberg.

2. The memo, titled "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber," called into question the company's — as well as the tech industry's — diversity efforts, arguing the lack of female representation is a result of biological and psychological differences, not discrimination.

"Differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don't have 50 percent representation of women in tech and leadership. Discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive and bad for business," Mr. Damore wrote, later adding, "we need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism."

3. As an example of biological differences, Mr. Damore wrote women have more neuroticism — "higher anxiety, lower stress tolerance."

"On average, men and women biologically differ in many ways. These differences aren't just socially constructed because:

  • They're universal across human cultures
  • They often have clear biological causes and links to prenatal testosterone
  • Biological males that were castrated at birth and raised as females often still identify and act like males"

4. The 10-page memo alleged Google leans far too left and silences conservative opinions.

"When it comes to diversity and inclusion, Google’s left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence," he wrote.  

5. In a companywide email, Sundar Pichai, Google's CEO, said portions of the memo violated the company's code of conduct, reports the New York Times.

Mr. Pichai wrote, "Our co-workers shouldn't have to worry that each time they open their mouths to speak in a meeting, they have to prove that they are not like the memo states, being 'agreeable' rather than 'assertive,' showing a 'lower stress tolerance,' or being "neurotic.'"

6. Google's Vice President of Diversity, Integrity & Governance Danielle Brown, who started her position just a few weeks ago, issued a statement in response to Mr. Damore's memo, which was also published by Gizmodo. She indicated neither she nor the company "endorses, promotes or encourages" the manifesto.

"Diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of our values and the culture we continue to cultivate. We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company, and we'll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul," she wrote.

Ms. Brown added Google will continue to promote "a culture in which those with alternative views, including different political views, feel safe sharing their opinions," so long as viewpoints are non-discriminatory and abide by company policy.

7. Mr. Damore said he submitted a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board, alleging Google's upper management was "misrepresenting and shaming [him] in order to silence [his] complaints," reports the New York Times.

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