Why the Google Memo Writer Deserved to Be Fired
You may have heard about the Google Anti-Diversity Memo.*
*Side note, looking up my reference articles for this article on Google may have been one of the most meta things I have ever done.
If not, the basic story is that an engineer at Google wrote a long memo at work citing multiple reasons why 1) Google’s recent diversity efforts are actually discriminatory and 2) that women aren’t getting jobs in tech because they are not physically, mentally or emotionally equipped for those jobs.
Let me break from this news by saying: get over yourself, you fucking broflake, and step aside so a glorious female POC engineer can take your job. That’s right, we’re taking your jobs.
…except that we are not. In fact, we are still fighting for the same pay and same positions that science has yet to prove we shouldn’t have.
One of the biggest issues in this story is that many people are lashing back at Google, citing first amendment rights to free speech as the reason firing this employee wasn’t acceptable. However, what we have here is a false equivalency. A false equivalency is a logical fallacy, wherein you have two different arguments that you are maintaining are equal when they are not. This is not a free speech issue (besides the fact that this has nothing to do with your constitutional rights). This is about harm.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai responded to the termination by issuing a company-wide email stating:
“The memo has clearly impacted our co-workers, some of whom are hurting and feel judged based on their gender. 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.’ ”
Whether you think that Google is an “ideological echo chamber” or not, no one would have found a 10-page memo that describes why black men can’t be engineers because of physical attributes acceptable. Because it wouldn’t be acceptable. It would, in fact, be highly unacceptable. To say that women cannot be engineers, too, is unacceptable.
There is both a theoretical and practical principle to speaking your mind. We have on the one hand the theoretical principle of words, their meanings, their symbols and their intent. But on the other, more realistic and more meaningful hand, we have the practical principle in which this man was working with women every day, allowing his biases to affect his interactions with those coworkers. Talk about an ideological echo chamber.
At any organization, you have to allow for a certain amount of inherent differences between people to affect your workplace. That is normal and natural. It is not, however, normal or natural to be forced to work alongside someone you know for a fact thinks you are too emotionally diminished to hold your job and that you were hired because of a cultural problem.
And let me be clear: that cultural problem is also real. It is both a theoretical and practical principle. We know that biases run deep, that stereotypes and micro-aggressions can deeply impact entire social strata like job development.
I worked for 2 years at a company that treated me like a glorified 1950s secretary, with my master’s degree and almost photographic memory and 800 word per minute reading rate. Luckily, I left that job to join a different company that now features a female majority and my own team made up entirely of women. This was not a conscious decision but a natural progression of looking for talent and drive anywhere you can find it, though it always helps when women are part of the hiring process as well.
Because that’s the lesson at the end of the day: women deserve a seat at the table. And not only that, they deserve to sit by people who think they earned that right.
Does this sound like a feminist rant? Good, I hope it does. I hope that the story of this man’s memo makes you angry and tired of being angry. I hope you find it pitifully funny that he intends to sue Google (which, good luck) and hope that no one will give him a job.
Unfortunately, until we stop allowing this kind of thought to poison our community wells, someone will keep employing that guy.