Published: Mon, August 14, 2017
Culture | By Ray Hoffman

The fired Google engineer did a photoshoot outside the company's headquarters

The fired Google engineer did a photoshoot outside the company's headquarters

James Damore, the Google engineer fired after writing a controversial 3,300-word memo on diversity, is questioning why Google pushed him out when it did.

Damore was sacked on Monday after his memo, which claimed that biological differences made women less suited for careers in tech, was circulated widely. Damore was sacked days after the memo went viral online.

Google's liberal stance toward self-expression, enabled by those online forums, was created in part to show that it is not bound by the conventions that stifle more stodgy companies. The memo leaked last weekend and, on Monday, he was sacked. In the days since his firing, Damore chose to give his first major interviews to two right-wing YouTube personalities: Stefan Molyneux, and Jordan B. Peterson. Introduced as evidence in a lawsuit brought by a former employee alleging that Google's confidentiality agreements were illegal, the email was telling because it highlighted the importance of open discussion at the company as well as its potential perils.

A number of employees sent emails to Pichai and told managers that they planned to skip the meeting because they were anxious that they would face online reprisals for speaking out. Later that night, Pichai made a public appearance at an event near Google's campus focused on young girls in tech.

The U.S. far right plans to take its dispute with Google to the company's doorsteps, with a nationwide "March on Google" set to take place this month. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

On Friday, Susan Fowler, the former Uber engineer who shone a spotlight on the ride-hailing giant's workplace culture and diversity issues, weighed in after Damore's op-ed. Other posts, seen in screenshots of Memegen that were shared with The New York Times by a Google employee, questioned why Google seemed to be taking cues from outsiders. She said the personal essay proved his memo was "sexist" and "anti-diversity". "This episode suggests he should seek a nonleadership position", Brooks wrote. We are more mobile and can sort ourselves into different communities; we wait longer to find and choose just the right mate; and we spend much of our time in a digital world personalized to fit our views.

So, forthright opinions all around.

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