Google woman on Damore

Interesting, there’s an interview of a female Google employee on the Damore thing. They promise a good read, so let’s see what it’s about.

Was the science he cited sound? (No.)

Says who? Jordan B Peterson said something entirely different for example

Was Google’s firing of Damore a violation of the First Amendment? (Nope.)

Well I guess that’s true. The first amendment only forbids the congress to make cuts on freedom of speech. Google certainly isn’t the congress. So it doesn’t even cover the human right to speak freely, which is kinda irritating. What kind of right is that, where your employer can fire you for your opinion or social media can ban you from their platforms? It’s like you can express yourself, just be careful and don’t express it on the wrong platforms.

Can Google do a better job at making conservatives in the company feel as though they can voice their views? (Yes.)

Well yeah… Anyway, onto the actual interview

Kovach: You said you felt attacked by the memo. Can you describe what you mean by that?

Lauren: You’ve read the memo, right? I’m not a female engineer, but I’ve talked to a lot of female engineers. Yesterday, the women in the ads group got together with one of the directors of engineering. She organized a sort of listening session, and we kind of all just sat down and talked about it. I think it’s just really hard to have someone make baseless claims about your abilities in the workplace, and I think that’s what happened. And it’s hard to not feel like that’s an attack on you personally, and on us collectively. We talk a lot about how women at Google are a minority. We’re not a minority [outside of Google], but we kind of are [inside]. But to have us all lumped into one sort of category like that and to have such a baseless claim made about who we are, and to have it positioned as fact — as scientific fact — I don’t know how we could feel anything but attacked by that.

The answer to that is simple: Don’t feel addressed by it. Take a step back and review what he actually said. Damore basically said that women on average seek more social than technical occupations, which isn’t incorrect. However, that’s only on average. If you have a job as an engineer at Google, you’re far from an average person. You’re not even an average engineer, considering you’re employed by one of the top employers world wide. Google is so big, it can select the best of the crop around the world, so those who work with them already showed what they’re capable of. Trait

To illustrate that further that point, look at the standard distribution. Since it’s mainly defined by an exponential function, a simple shift to the left or right can mean a significant change in distribution at a certain point. Here I drew an arbitary line in the distribution Damore provided in his memo. Notice how the area beneath the purple graph is barely visible while there’s still quite a bit beneath the green one. Of course in such a case (here) more men will be hired than women. If you are a woman right of the red line, you’re not worse than any man who’s also right of it. Overall it still comes down to individual skill. Those who achieved something using that skill, proved themselves.

Lauren: There was no agenda. It was really just: Let’s sit down and talk about it. It was really nice to hear all the different points of view. One of the women put her hand up and said: “Look, I’m a conservative. I completely disagree with everything he said, but I’m still a conservative. And I don’t feel like I can’t voice that opinion here.” Google really does have an open culture of debate, I think.

Oh wow, someone who has the same opinion on a topic can voice it, even though she’s not part of that group. That’s tolerating.

Lauren: I’ve not personally had anyone identify as a conservative and tell me they feel their voice isn’t welcome, but it’s entirely possible that they feel that way and they don’t feel safe to say something.

Oh, she proves herself wrong, that simplifies it. This has been his main point anyway.

Kovach: Just speaking broadly, before all this happened, what has Google done to help you advance in your career?

Lauren: Everything. I’ve actually been thinking about this quite a bit. I have a very strong female reporting chain above me. I really feel like a lot of those women have been really instrumental in helping me get where I am. I’ve been promoted twice since I’ve been there. I really think that it’s both merit-based, but a lot of people have also helped me to get there. Both men and women.

Kovach: How so?

Lauren: In giving me opportunities to actually perform and to prove that I was capable of being promoted. You know, Google’s not perfect. It’s not a perfect place for women to work. But that’s pretty much everywhere, right? I don’t feel like I have any more or less opportunity as a woman here than I did at any of the other workplaces I’ve been. And I’ve worked in consulting, advertising, and now I’m in tech. I’ve worked in corporate Australia and in corporate America. I don’t see any significant difference in my experience here than what I’ve had previously. In fact, I think they might be less focused on me being a woman here in tech in the US than there was in Australia in consulting.

Makes me more wonder what a perfect workplace for women is. But that’d be pure guesswork here. There are also varying opinions on this too among women anyway.

Kovach: Why do you think that is?

Lauren: Australia is a very different environment. It’s very egalitarian. And they were aggressively pursuing this kind of agenda of being an employer of choice for women. So they had a lot of programs that were very specifically designed to help advance women. Because they had a terrible track record in middle and upper management of retaining women. And so I was heavily involved in those programs, but I was very junior in my career at that point. And I didn’t really understand exactly what that was all about. I feel like we talk about it less here in the New York office, at Google, but I still have just as many opportunities. I feel like the focus is less on am I a woman and more on am I capable of doing my job.

Why do we have these programs and constant talk about gender and race anyway? The left is mainly bringing it up too. Feminists want to tell others how women are still oppressed, having less freedom than men, but then it seems like they have the same oppurtunities as them. If you want to get something off of someone’s mind, don’t talk about it. Yet we’re doing the complete opposite.

Kovach: So you definitely feel like it’s merit-based? You don’t feel like Google is saying, “Lauren is a woman, and therefore we need to give her this opportunity over someone else.”

Lauren: Not at all.

Again, why do you feel offended then? If you proved yourself worthy, there’s no reason to actually feel inferior to men. This isn’t about Lauren, but all the other women at Google. Feeling inferior while achieving high is just nonsense.

Kovach: Part of the memo implies that. Damore seemed to feel that women were given opportunities for the sake of diversity.

Lauren: I can see how he can look at our diversity programs and our inclusion programs and feel like he is being excluded from them. I can totally see that. And that’s a fair argument for him to make. What’s an unfair argument for him to make is that women are less biologically predisposed to being capable of doing the same work as men. Unless he has significant scientific evidence to back that up, which he doesn’t.

Kovach: It seems like everyone can find their own scientific evidence. At least that’s what I’ve seen.

Lauren: It’s hard because I think he couches so much of his document as if it’s fact when it’s actually not. There’s so little evidence in there. And it’s all really opinion. And the whole argument is couched as: Well, this is fact. If you put some charts in a document that doesn’t make it fact.

Did she actually look at an engineer course? Or computer science? It’s not difficult to find women in there, but if you take a random sample of graduates, you end up far from a 50/50 distribution. And again, he didn’t say one sex is more capable than the other. It’s still on average, so on an individual basis it can still vary a lot.

Kovach: How do you think Sundar Pichai handled the situation?

Lauren: So before I found out [Damore] had been fired on Monday, I remember saying very clearly to one of the male colleagues on my team, who I see as a complete ally and has always supported me in everything that I’ve done at Google, saying: “Well, we can’t not fire him at this point. If we don’t fire him, what message does that send to all the women at Google? That this is an acceptable thing to do. That it’s acceptable to alienate all the women at Google and say that they don’t deserve to be here?”

If anything it just shows the confirmation bias of the women working at Google and their echo chamber where they further confirm what they think.

Kovach: It seems like at the very top level they were wrestling with that same question. So the firing happens Monday night. How do you think it was handled?

Lauren: I think it was handled well. They took an appropriate amount of time to make the decision. I’m glad it wasn’t a hasty decision. I’m glad it didn’t happen first thing Monday morning. I’m glad they debated it and that they talked it through. Because there are so many facets to the situation. You can’t just look at it at a base level and say, “Well, he should just be fired because he did something wrong.” Think about it from every point of view. And I believe they did. And what I love about Google is that we don’t just make these hasty decisions. We think about things from all the angles.

He didn’t do something in your opinion. He did something right in his opinion and that of numerous others. Who are you, or Google’s CEO for that matter, to judge what is right and wrong here. He did nothing more than voice his opinion. There’s nothing wrong with that, whether you like its content or not. Even if everything he says turns out to be false, it still doesn’t mean he did something wrong. Voicing your opinion about something in itself is NEVER wrong.

Kovach: How do you think Sundar handled canceling the town hall that was supposed to address many of these issues?

Lauren: I mean, if we think there is even one person in the company who is going to be put at risk, then yeah, we did the right thing. I’m just so incredibly disappointed that it’s come to this and that people don’t feel safe to engage in a debate about something and that they might be exposed to risk publicly like that. That’s really disappointing.

The first thing that bothers me about this, is that it’s those on the “left” side are the ones that determine whether a discussion can be held or not. Here some women feel anxious about the outcome (which at this point is pretty understandable). Other times speeches and debates of the libertarian right are withheld, because of attacks by violent left extremists. The left dictates what can be discussed and what can’t. Secondly, I’ll grab another excerpt from the interview for that:

Kovach: Or should it change?

Lauren: I think that after this it’s going to change. I think it has to. I think this is a huge lesson for all of us in the importance of respectful debate and being able to listen to other people’s point of view, even if you don’t agree with it. Because, actually, I have a lot of empathy for [Damore]. He had a point of view. He wanted to share it. I think he could have been smarter in the way he shared his opinions and beliefs. I will debate anything respectfully with anyone, but in this case, he chose to do it in a way that wasn’t respectful. And I think that’s why we’ve ended up where we are.

You can’t be for a debate and then say it’s the correct thing to retreat from one. A more logical step you could’ve taken, was to protect the women who don’t want their names to be published. But to downright cancel a perfect oppurtunity for such a debate doesn’t accomplish anything. We can also see that both sides become more extreme in their opinion and verbal attacks. Waiting won’t improve the situation at all.

Plus, if you do strive for a 50/50 distribution in engineering, because you think men and women are equal, then you can’t also say that diversity is progressive. Claiming that diversity in sex, race, gender, etc. improves a workplace, implies that those of a certain sex, race, gender, etc. inherently have a certain trait. You can’t embrace diversity programs while firing an employee for pointing out these differences between sexes. The whole interview was more about women at Google than the main points of Damore’s memo, but that’s fine. Anyone is free to pick their topic they want to discuss. I’d like to say one thing here though. What’s so bad about an uneven distribution of men and women in a certain field? Anyone should be free to take up any job they want. If more men choose to work as an engineer, then I don’t see anything bad about it. In that sense, there’s no need to force a change. Sure it would be nice to have both men and women work together, but if that doesn’t happen, it’s not wrong. Everyone chose their job on an individual basis after all. That’s an oxymoron.

Written on August 18, 2017