A Google engineer was fired after writing a controversial memo entitled Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber, in which he argued that biological differences between men and women could be used in part to explain the gender gap in the tech industry. The internal memo criticizing Google’s diversity policies was leaked online, immediately creating a furor both inside and outside the company.
Women in tech have had different reactions to the engineer’s termination as evidenced in a forum discussion for Y Combinator’s “Ask a Female Engineer” blog series. Four engineers participated anonymously in the discussion and one who said she worked at Google felt the company was right to fire him. She said that it was not only what the engineer wrote, but how he handled the complex topic of diversity in the workplace. Another female Google employee has stated that views like this are common in the tech industry and Google should have tried to change the engineer’s mind about diversity before firing him instead of shutting down the conversation.
In a YouTube interview, the terminated engineer spoke out about his firing saying that he felt isolated by Google’s culture and that the company was not accommodating of his view points. In other publications, he said he believed he was wrongfully terminated by his former employer. He said he wrote the memo to start an “honest discussion” about what he believes to be Google’s intolerance for ideas. According to the engineer, he also filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming Google was misrepresenting him in effort to silence him before he was fired. He sees his firing as illegal retaliation for the complaint.
Our Words Matter
Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, sent an email to company employees with the subject line “Our words matter.” In the email, he stressed that parts of the memo violate Google’s Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in the workplace. He addressed the impact the memo had on the Google staff, some of whom are hurt and feel judged based on their gender.
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