Google has fired the employee behind a controversial memo on gender diversity that went viral inside the company, and across Silicon Valley and much of the world’s tech industry.
The author, who has been revealed to be Havard PhD graduate James Damore, confirmed to Bloomberg that he has been terminated from his role as an engineer at Google for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.”
Google did not confirm the firing. A spokesperson told TechCrunch that the company “can’t comment on individual employee cases.”
Google CEO Sundar Pichai cut short his summer family holiday following responses to the memo. In a company-wide email, he told staff that the memo violated Google’s code of conduct, but he didn’t say whether Damore would be fired for writing it.
The timing of the saga is not good for Google, which was hit by a lawsuit in January to obtain compensation data, ending up with a snafu over gender pay discrimination.
The ten-page memo started out as an internal document criticizing Google’s diversity programs that is reported to have been widely shared by employees. It then leaked out into the public domain over the weekend, with Gizmodo posting the writing in full. Among the most controversial parts, Damore argued that “differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don’t have 50 percent representation of women in tech and leadership.”
He also argued that women are more neurotic than men, and that this is a factor in their employment.
“This may contribute to the higher levels of anxiety women report on Googlegeist and to the lower number of women in high stress jobs,” Damore wrote.
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.”
“I had hoped to take another week or so to get the lay of the land before introducing myself to you all. But given the heated debate we’ve seen over the past few days, I feel compelled to say a few words,” Brown said in her address to Google staff.
Damore has been roundly criticized for the content of what he wrote, which is seen as perpetuating views that are responsible for the continued gender imbalance in tech, but some have raised concern that the engineer has essentially been fired for voicing his opinions. This news — and topic — is sure to burn on for some time, so expect to see more soon.
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