Google fires employee who blamed lack of gender diversity on 'biological causes'

Posted August 09, 2017

Google bosses have fired a male engineer after he wrote an internal memo claiming there are biological causes behind gender inequality in the tech industry.

According to Reuters, Damore said he was sacked for "perpetuating gender stereotypes".

Terming the situation a "very hard time", Pichai said suggestions that a group of people have traits that make them "less biologically suited" to work is "offensive and not OK". When addressing the gap in representation in the population, we need to look at population level differences in distributions.

According to the author, natural aptitudes of men allow them to become better computer programmers, while women have more "openness directed towards feelings and aesthetics rather than ideas" - meaning they "prefer jobs in social or artistic areas". Gizmodo published a copy of the memo.

Damore confirmed to Bloomberg on Monday that he had been fired for writing the manifesto for "perpetuating gender stereotypes", and said he is "currently exploring all possible legal remedies".

And yet, the values being espoused by the Google leadership in the heat of the spotlight can not gloss over a problem that remains deeply set in the company's culture.

The employee memo, titled "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber", begins by saying that only honest discussion will address a lack of equity.

Google has not confirmed the author's name, but the United States media has said his name is James Damore.

Pichai, 45, said several Google employees have been hurt and impacted by the memo and they feel "judged based on their gender".

Danielle Brown, who recently took the job of vice president of diversity, integrity and governance at Google, wrote a company-wide response to the emergence of the memo which stated that it is "not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages". The author added that Google employees should be comfortable expressing their opinion, even if they could run counter to some company views such as those on diversity in engineering fields.

This memo follows on an ongoing investigation by the Department of Labor for the reportedly large gender pay disparity within the company across all departments.

"Changing a culture is hard, and it's often uncomfortable", she said. "We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company", Brown wrote.