Over the weekend, Gizmodo published an internal Google memo, written by a male engineer, questioning the company’s gender equality efforts. It argues that "preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership." That, concludes the author, means that Google should "stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism," adding that a quest for equal representation is "bad for business."
Unsurprisingly, the document has caused outrage among many employees at the liberal-leaning firm, with internal discussion boards set ablaze with debate. So much so, in fact, that Google's new vice president of diversity, integrity, and governance, Danielle Brown (only two weeks into the job), issued an internal statement explaining that the memo "advanced incorrect assumptions about gender" and is "not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages."
That said, the memo appears to have recieved at least some internal support. An anonymous source at Google told Motherboard: "From what I've seen it's been a mix of women saying 'This is terrible and it's been distracting me from my work and it shouldn't be allowed'; men and women saying 'This is horrible but we need to let him have a voice'; and men saying 'This is so brave, I agree.'"
It's certainly poor PR for the search firm, which has long strived to stamp out discrimination. In its latest diversity report, Google CEO Sundar Pichai is is quoted as saying that "a diverse mix of voices leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone." But it's clearly a struggle: Google's staff is 31 percent female, with women currently filling just 20 percent of technical roles and 25 percent of leadership roles.
Our best illustrations of 2022
Our artists’ thought-provoking, playful creations bring our stories to life, often saying more with an image than words ever could.
How CRISPR is making farmed animals bigger, stronger, and healthier
These gene-edited fish, pigs, and other animals could soon be on the menu.
The Download: the Saudi sci-fi megacity, and sleeping babies’ brains
10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.