Monthly Archives: August 2017

Google Manifesto: James Damore is right

Disclaimer: All of the below is my opinion. I am not a linguist, I am not psychologist, I am not neuroscientist - I am a white male software engineer who values women and diversity. I can read and (hopefully) use common sense and I try to think about information neutrally yet critically before I make an opinion.

James Damore is right. I have no idea if he is right that men and women differ, but he is right. There is an "ideological echo chamber". I have no idea if it is in Google, but it definitely is present in our society. Why do I think so?

Go and read the full manifesto: Not articles which give opinion directly in the title like the one at Gizmodo. Read the first paragraph of the memo. Go back to title and read the title again. Then finish the manifesto. Ignore your prejudice about diversity (regardless if it's positive or negative). Just try to grasp what he is pointing out.

Here is what I got out of the text:

  • Diversity is good
  • There is a problem with free speech
  • Women are equally capable of doing engineering work as men (but they excel because of different qualities)
  • There is some evidence that men's and women's brain differ (although there is probably the same amount of evidence that it does not differ)
  • Diversity programs might not work
  • Diversity programs might widen the gender gap
  • No one is questioning costs and effectiveness of the programs
  • There are potential improvements (listed in the doc)
  • The most important part of supporting diversity is inclusiveness

I listed 9 points above and there is one which could insult women - stating men and women are different. I would be interested in the analysis of the most used keywords for the memo on the internet - I am sure anti-diversity would be one of the top.  But if you read it with open mind, you might find there is nothing against diversity. The author is mostly concerned about free speech, inclusiveness and openness in present world - and reactions to this memo only support the case. We often fight so-called anti-diversity opinions, just based on labels, not based on the context and intentions.

Another much used keyword would be "screed" or "rant", but look at it - it's well structured and supported by science studies (although you might not agree with them) which are linked as sources. If I look at what I normally read on internet (excluding some work stuff), this is closest to a scientific article I've read in a long time. And it actually encouraged me to read more on the topic, find studies, read scientists' opinions on the topic. I think from the pure writer's point of view, it's a good piece.

What is the conclusion then? I like the way James Damore presented his opinion. I agree with him that there is an "ideological echo chamber". I don't like how public reacted. I'd love to see more openness in how people consume information - and I have a long way to go to learn this skill properly myself.

EDIT: I am still researching what other have to say about the topic, so there might appear a list of articles I found interesting following these lines...