Saturday, August 12, 2017

Some thoughts on the firing of James Damore from Google

As the world knows by now James Damore was fired from Google for writing a memo that questioned Google's diversity policies.

As a holder of Google stock I have a few thoughts on this.

Software engineering is a job where you cannot replace one brilliant software engineer with six adequate ones. It really is a job where the best people can lever their work over millions of computers and the whole world.

If you are Sundar Pichai (the CEO of Google) your job is to attract, hold, motivate and direct the very best software engineers - and to make sure their work does scale over the whole world.

In doing this he literally should not care whether men are better software engineers or mathematicians on average than women. Google should not interested in average. Google should be interested in the best.

I will hold Emmy Noether up as better than pretty well all men in all current mathematics and physics faculties. There may be a dozen in the world who can match her.  Probably less. If she pops along you should hire her. Even if women are less good on average at maths than men that should not matter. Emmy Noether is clearly better than anyone else you are going to hire this year.

The truth or falsity of James Damore's assertions in the memo literally do not interest me and should not interest Sundar Pichai. His memo made his job of hiring the the best harder. If the best happened to be a woman or another minority they might prefer work somewhere more welcoming.

If I were the Google CEO I would not have just fired James Damore. I would have been proud to fire him.

There is a lot of talk about Mr Damore receiving compensation from Google for his firing. For what? He broke the Google code of conduct and was fired for cause.

Yes, his feelings and the feelings of many delicate petals on the right are hurt.

But they are no more entitled to compensation for hurt feelings than anyone else.

If Sundar Pichai wastes shareholder funds compensating him I will be disappointed.

And don't think for a moment that this is a liberal line. Google is and should be a proudly elitist place for a software engineer to work. And Mr Damore was fired because he offered a phoney elitism (based on gender rather than competence).

Phoney elitists like him don't deserve to work in such a place.

Mr Damore was right on one thing. Diversity shouldn't be valued for its own sake in such a place either. But I haven't noticed a lack of elitism in Google staff I have met. They positively drip elitism.

Diversity is valued though and it seems is valued for the right reason. It gets you a better chance of recruiting the best.



Unknown said...

John, this is a great post. A good example of 2nd or 3rd order thinking. Latent ability of men or women is literally irrelevant for Google - hire the best, whatever it takes.

However, I believe that your claim "And Mr Damore was fired because he offered a phoney elitism (based on gender rather than competence." is incorrect. Damore says:

"Discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive, and bad for business."

At least one part of his argument is that Google is using positive discrimination to achieve 50-50 balance of genders. Google is not hiring the best - it is hiring to achieve equal representation.

He also says:

"However, to achieve a more equal gender and race representation, Google has created several discriminatory practices:

● Programs, mentoring, and classes only for people with a certain gender or race
● A high priority queue and special treatment for “diversity” candidates
● Hiring practices which can effectively lower the bar for “diversity” candidates by
decreasing the false negative rate
● Reconsidering any set of people if it’s not “diverse” enough, but not showing that same
scrutiny in the reverse direction (clear confirmation bias)
● Setting org level OKRs for increased representation which can incentivize illegal

Among other things he says that Google's positive discrimination is effectively lowering the bar for its employees.

Anonymous said...

Really well put, this is an excellent post.

TheAcsMan said...

I agree with the various observations you've made. I would also have been proud to show Damore the door. A true sign of intelligence is just how quickly Google responsed.

The potential damage done by Damore, in making Google less hospitable, strikes at its very infrastructure. Their products are a reflection of extraordinary minds that undoubtedly function better in welcoming, secure and friendly environments.

While Damore may have been gifted, it is self-deprecating to say that gender plays a role. While genetics may play a role in intelligence, there is no suggestion that those genetic loci reside on a Y chromosome. If the Y chromosome is critical, Damore simply got lucky.

What is more likely is that whatever role genetics may play, it is to set a potential, that a child's environment is then tasked to bring to its fullest.

What Damore and others who believe that males have intellectual supremacy in any area, such as mathematics, fail to accept, is that so much of the capacity for intelligence is probably due to a fortunate accident of neural wiring during gestation, that itself could be related to other accidental or incidental events, such as maternal hormonal levels, oxygen transfer, etc...

In a place like Google, where the experience of the human mind is sought to be translated into various algorithms to enhance human thinking, the role of a diverse workplace can't be minimized. With diversity, with exposure to different environments and ways of thinking comes a more complete ability to draw upon the broad perspectives to create truly encompassing algorithms that consider nuances of thought not all communities may have.

More diversity, more openness of thought, combined with the rigors of mathematics, will make better Google products.

Anonymous said...


I completely disagree with this post and believe you need to revisit it. The memo says to treat everyone as individuals and to evaluate candidates as individuals. Then it goes on to offer potential biological reasons for why there may be, on average, fewer qualified female candidates.

You claim that you would be "proud" to fire him for this view because it could cause women to work elsewhere. Would you want to hire a worker who felt this view had any impact on their job, or even felt this implied anything about them? Suppose someone said testosterone causes males to be more violent than females, on average, and that's why more men are in jail. Would you find that to be a slight to you? Would you think that's a valid excuse to not want to work at the same company as someone who held such a view? You're not violent, so it doesn't apply to you.

It seems to me that articles like this, that do not focus on or take positions on the ideas in the memo but find other reasons to fire Damore, are attempts to maintain some sort of societal status given the left holds a near monopoly in the intellectual sphere. Other excuses are, I would have fired him for his lack of citations (never mind that you can find scientific citations for it- although this doesn't mean the claims are true), or I would have fired him for poor writing ability, etc. Your use of the word "proud" implies strong moral condemnation, yet you offer no moral evaluation of his ideas.

There is a real element of primitive tribalism in the Google training programs Damore cites, where only women are allowed, despite men potentially having the same difficulties. The leftist idea that ALL women think differently and therefore we need to focus on hiring more women full stop is tribalism that denies the existence of the individual. If Damore had said that all women are biologically inferior so we need to focus on hiring more men, I would condemn that as well. But to write an article like this, and not address the collectivism and sexism inherent in seeking applicants of a particular sex BECAUSE they're a particular sex is dishonest.

Just to reiterate the collectivism at play in Google's diversity programs- Google seeks to hire women, period. If you're a woman and you think and act the same as the men at Google, Google treats you differently by giving you preferential treatment in the hiring process, special programs and training etc, because of your genitals. If you're a man and you think and act differently than the men at google, Google places you in the 'man' collective and treats you accordingly. How can you write this article and not explicitly condemn that?

Unknown said...

Thanks for this great post. I fully agree with it.

Anonymous said...

>While genetics may play a role in intelligence, there is no suggestion that those genetic loci reside on a Y chromosome.

This is not how development works. An example: men are taller than women, I think this is uncontroversial. Does this mean that genes for that extra height must reside on the Y chromosome? Of course not. Sex influences aspects like height through the regulation of gene expression (eg through hormones).

This is why, for example, women with a male twin have more masculine mental abilities (check out "Mental rotation in female fraternal twins: Evidence for intra-uterine hormone transfer?"). Or, to give another example, why women with CAH (a condition that results in hormone balance similar to males) have mental characteristics more similar to those of males (see eg "Early Androgen Effects on Spatial and Mechanical Abilities: Evidence from Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia").

Anonymous said...

John, have you read Damore's entire original doc, with charts and links to sources? Your piece suggests not.

anonymous said...

Only one note: you say "other minority," but women are not a minority. We are a slight majority, if anything. It's just important to keep in mind, since white men do sometimes seem to believe they are the "norm" from which all others diverge.

Max said...

I agree. Damone's 15minutes of fame are up.

Anonymous said...

Following your argument you should really look at what the programming community thinks about this. E.g. .

I don't doubt to fire him was the best move for the Google share price. I doubt it made it easier to attract good engineers.
But then I doubt engineering prowess is all that important for the Google share price even in the long term, it is more about defending their ad monopoly (i.e. politics), which is why the best move here was the political correct one.

Rick from Austin, TX said...

Wow, it would certainly appear that you did not read his actual memo and are just responding to the current MSM reporting on it. I thought you were more rigorously intellectual than that. Truly disappointed in your lack of intellectual curiosity on this topic.

Rick from Austin, TX said...

Follow on to my earlier message. Please watch this youtube interview (with a psychology professor from a Canadian university) of Mr Damore shortly after his memo caused such a firestorm. It shows a totally different view than what you seem to have taken away from the issue:

Anonymous said...

Your broad point is 100% correct. Google should hire the best, period. Damore's paper actually says as much. For some reason many people cannot receive that message.

Now, since we both agree that Google should be all about hiring the best, does making an example of Damore by firing him further that end? It might if many all star engineers feel supported by the action. On the other hand it may backfire because it shows that other things matter more than raw talent at Google (Damore was apparently highly rated internally) and that if you have views outside of the west coast liberal mainstream then you better not voice them too loudly at Google.

So will this firing attract more talent than it drives away? I think that is very much an open question. I think Google shareholders should prefer a management approach that actively attracts the best across the ideological spectrum. I think Pichai missed the mark on that with his handling of this.

Anonymous said...

John, I'm not sure you actually read the memo...

Damore's whole point is Google should hire entirely on merit, and if they do this, they might not end up with 50/50 gender split. Then attempts to move toward 50/50 will undermine hiring on merit.

You seem to be saying Google only hire on merit anyway. That is true historically, but Damore is pointing out that they are shift away from that. You're looking at historical hiring and agreeing with it, missing the fact that the winds have changed John - that is the old way, and it's no longer politically acceptable to only hire on merit. You *must* consider gender and increase female hires, even if more men than women met the historical standards.

Seriously - I think you should reread the memo if you've read it already.

Still might be the best move for google to fire him - if they hadn't I'm sure various law suits would have been lodged, and grandstanding politicians would have asked for investigations etc.

Anonymous said...

Good post John. For those rallying to Damore's defense, do Google, Facebook, Apple or any other bastions of supposedly liberal elitist culture seem to be suffering for their close-mindedness? No, they are kicking the living hell out of companies that compete with them. Progressivism in business seems to be good for business, precisely because as John identifies, you are better able to recruit talented people of all backgrounds and identities if they feel welcomed.

Also, a pivotal study that Damore cited involves babies staring at mobiles vs. faces. As this article points out, there are many flaws in this methodology and the results could not be duplicated (meaning they are not statistically valid).

Anonymous said...

Hear hear!

Nothing second-rate about Google's Raia Hadsell or Been Kim at ICML this week.

proctor said...

It feels like John is racing to play catch up with the diversity crowd, and using a very weird kind of logic to do so.

In this world, the actual content of the memo makes no difference - the issue is simply the reaction to it, and the effect this had.

The memo author is to be punished for violating the ruling ideology, which will make Google appear less attractive to the top people, who for the most part presumably share this ideology.

Yet the entire point of the memo is that
1) the diversity dogma is about shaming and ideological coercion, not merit
2) by refusing to allow free discussion of the substance of the issues at the heart of sex and gender differences, more problems are created

So John's solution is in a narrow sense quite apt and intriguing: since the smart kids (mostly) buy into the diversity dogma, it is best to keep everyone happy and get rid of the person whose challenge of that dogma caused a huge fuss.

Yet this doesn't really deal with the long-term issues that the memo brought up.

Overall it just feels like a big cop-out and a way to justify ideological coercion.

But it's a good lesson to readers of John's blog: No one is perfect. Even John Hempton, whose writings we enjoy and whose intellect we respect, has his ideological blinders.

Richard J said...

"The truth or falsity of James Damore's assertions in the memo literally do not interest me and should not interest Sundar Pichai. His memo made his job of hiring the the best harder. If the best happened to be a woman or another minority they might prefer work somewhere more welcoming."

Firing Damore just made Google a less attractive employer for other men. They might prefer work somewhere where diversity of opinion is considered acceptable. And since the majority of the talent are male, not female (see Damore's memo for evidence of this) this should be of much larger concern to Pichai in hiring the best.

Pichai has taken the easy option and Google will lose out because of it.

Anonymous said...

Read the actual memo John. It's obvious you haven't.

John Hempton said...

I read the memo. I literally do not care whether it is right or wrong. It is not relevant to running Google. It is not constructive.

The issue is that Google has (an entirely appropriate) code of conduct and like all private sector organisations it has the right to impose that on its staff.

The issue here is simply the private sector's right to hire or fire.

But apparently plenty of my readers have a problem with that.

James B. Shearer said...

" ... With diversity, with exposure to different environments and ways of thinking ... "

This reminds me of the parody army recruiting poster:

Join the army.
See the world.
Meet interesting people.
And kill them.

The whole point of firing Damore is that different ways of thinking are bad.

James B. Shearer said...

" ... His memo made his job of hiring the the best harder. ..."

And if it could be proven to you that the opposite was true because Emmy Noethers don't come along very often but brilliant male chauvinist pig software engineers are a dime a dozen would you change your positions.

Anonymous said...

John, I am a Google shareholder too, and I had a completely opposite reaction to the memo.

Reading between the lines (of the memo), I see a company that does not hire and promote entirely on merit and instead affirmatively favors women and diversity candidates. Then, those new hires sit together (on the company’s dime) and discuss minority and gender issues.

I agree that it’s Google’s job to hire the best. But affirmative action („positive“ discrimination against white males) will not help, but hurt that goal.

The best white males will be put off by the policy. But the best women and minority candidates will be put off too - they do not like starting work at a company where their hiring could be seen as due to their race/ gender instead of true ability.

Affirmative action/ quotas etc. are the wrong way to solve gender issues. They are actually out of the socialist toolbox.

Anonymous said...

"The issue here is simply the private sector's right to hire or fire.

But apparently plenty of my readers have a problem with that."

Seriously? This fallacy would get called out in the first lecture of a first-year university philosophy paper. You can think what google did was immoral/unwise/duplicitous/two-faced without thinking it should be illegal. I do. Just like cheating on your partner is immoral but legal.

And you may have read the memo now, but the post itself suggests you hadn't. Also, "the issue here is simply the private sector's right to hire or fire"? You spent almost no text in your post on that point, and most of it arguing a position entirely consistent with the actual text of Damore's memo.


"I will hold Emmy Noether up as better than pretty well all men in all current mathematics and physics faculties. There may be a dozen in the world who can match her. Probably less. If she pops along you should hire her. Even if women are less good on average at maths than men that should not matter. Emmy Noether is clearly better than anyone else you are going to hire this year."

This is entirely consistent with Damore's memo, and a view Damore would 100% support, which you have probably realised by now, if you have indeed read the memo.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to hear your thoughts on Joan of Arc and the Navy Seals.

Anonymous said...

The people here saying 'read' the memo don't seem to care if Damore actually read Google's latest diversity stats, published just this year - it's 36% women overall, and if engineers, 20%.

And where is the evidence that Google is trying to achieve parity in gender? They're not! That's not what diversity programs do. Diversity programs exist to overcome bias that exists (don't believe me? look up studies where they switch names and genders on identical resumes). Furthermore, California labor law on equality does not mandate parity on any vector - they simply say you should not discriminate and if you don't, your employee population should resemble more balance proportionate to the applicant pool. No where does anyone think you need to hire every woman who applies until they equal the amount of men. That's just alt-right bs to justify the notion that it's hard out there for a white man.

shb600 said...

Problem for Google is Damore did NOT violate the code of conduct by writing and posting a memo that is pro-diversity on a private company message board.

Google spends half of their meetings discussing politically correct ideas and issues. That does not sound like one that is welcoming to half the country and sounds like Google is wasting a lot of time. Only in a company that has a near monopoly business can you get away with this kind of waste and hubris. Google's leaders have taken their eyes off the the ball in favor of worshiping at the Church of Political Correctness.

Any gains that Google makes from the kind of women,who can't handle the fact that there are differences between the sexes, will be vastly outweighed by the men, who don't want to deal with this bullshit, and go and start their own companies or decide they'd rather work at places that are open to ideas other far left. Google's monopoly is not guaranteed to last forever, yet they are running the business is if it is preordained and no one can ever challenge them.

Damore was not seeking to make this a national issue. He pointed out that Google discriminates against men and people who are not ultra-left wing and shames and silences them. Then some leftist sends the message to the press in order to get him fired. Google then fires him and lies about what he wrote in the memo. Is that the environment where good ideas will flourish? It is anti-diversity of thought and anti-science in favor of Google's leftist world view.

Men are not women and women are not men. Deal with the facts and science not your feelings on the subject and how you wish the world was. The people who support Google, like John, don't want to deal with the facts. As John wrote he does not care if the writer is right or wrong. That is literally the only thing that matters. Google claims part of their mission is to "Do NO Evil." Right and wrong is SUPPOSED to matter at Google, which it does not.

It is only liberal politically correct ideas that matter. Silencing the opposing view and shaming. Right now the leaders and many employees are rich and can get away with this, but competition and free markets have a way of punishing people who do the wrong things and spend their time whining rather than working because somewhere their are a bunch of people who are just as smart and aren't going to get mired down with talking about politics when they are being paid to be working.

Anonymous said...

I've spoken about this with the general counsel of a public company here in California. Before his current role, he personally defended over a dozen wrongful termination suits. He says Damore is likely to win, or force Google to settle.

Over half of current Google employees oppose the firing.

And currently, whether due to nature or nurture, the vast majority of the very best programming candidates are male. They can work anywhere they want. Before joining Google, they must now consider, "I might be fired for citing settled scientific fact from peer-reviewed biological studies."

Still think this was a good move for the company? I don't. I think Sundar was trying to make points with the board, without regard for the long term consequences.

Ben said...

Google will eventually fire all its employees and AI will code for them exclusively. Could possibly hurt diversity but it will be extraordinarily profitable.

Anonymous said...

What Richard J said. Because of the different IQ variance (same average IQ, more extremely bright men, more extremely stupid men) and different interests (on average - men more interested in things, women more interested in living things), those things that you don't care whether they're true or false, Google are more likely to lose talent than gain it, because there are many more male code fiends than female.

"Google has (an entirely appropriate) code of conduct and like all private sector organisations it has the right to impose that on its staff"

Well, in Sundar Pichai's words "At the same time, there are co-workers who are questioning whether they can safely express their views in the workplace (especially those with a minority viewpoint). They too feel under threat, and that is also not OK. People must feel free to express dissent." In order to facilitate dissent, we had to destroy a dissenter.

If Damore in incorrect (which you don't care about) a lot of software people are leaving money on the table by not picking up all this female talent - and that can happen, see Vera Shirley and FI Group. But FI wasn't at the very top end of programming.

Emmy Noether or Maryam Mirzakhani were exceptionally bright people, way beyond my level. But for every Emmy there are 20 guys that no one outside the maths world has ever heard of. I think there's been one woman finalist in the 14 years of Google's Code Jam open coding competition, with 26 finalists each year.

Anonymous said...

John - your overall point is bang on - and for the record I don't think Pichai had any practical choice other than to fire Damore, given the firestorm from a vocal but small subset of the engineers.

However, as a strategic decision it's less clear. Anon @ 5:06 PM hits the nail on the head:

"...does making an example of Damore by firing him further that end? It might if many all star engineers feel supported by the action. On the other hand it may backfire because it shows that other things matter more than raw talent at Google [..] and that if you have views outside of the west coast liberal mainstream then you better not voice them too loudly at Google."

Even on the West Coast, a significant fraction of Google engineers are politically conservative. They've just received a very clear signal that there is a nexus of people in the company, with high effective power gained by gender/signalling credentials, who will hunt down people like them, get them fired, and proceed to try to destroy them in the media.

Will the engineering benefit of the women hired in future as a result of this action offset the loss of experienced male engineers moving out of the firm, and other male engineering candidates rejecting Google as an alternative? Especially given the 4:1 male:female engineering ratio which shows no sign of changing significantly. It's not obvious to me that this is a medium-to-long-term win.

[Love the blog. Sometimes disagree with your take, but it's always worth reading.]

Anonymous said...

As a libertarian I agree that a company can hire or fire but the question is were they correct to do so? You mention it upset some snowflakes on the right but the reason he was fired was to keep the snowflakes on the left happy. The science in his article is broadly correct but the conclusion are not politically acceptable. Is your agreement that he should have been fired based on disagreement with the former or agreement with the latter? You will note that Google spends a lot of money trying to increase diversity which is not as your piece starts out aiming for meritocracy and just because you can name an outlier that is good at maths ought not to generalise to broad population. Don't let your politics confuse your investing John.

viennacapitalist said...

Interesting point.
However, Google has more than 72.000 employees worldwide which would strongly suggest that averages play a role.
Unless, of course you believe they are not responsible for Google's success, which is what you seem to think
(I have no opinion, it might well be that Google hires people for fun)...

Peter said...

John I usually really appreciate your posts but I agree with other commentators that you should reconsider your view. For one, I dont agree that a company code of conduct should be beyond debate by its employees and that an employee should be fired just for questioning it. Damore didnt discriminate against anyone. He wasnt even implying that his women co-workers were less competent, just that the scientific seems to suggest that having a 50/50 breakdown between men and women in coding at google may not be an appropriate target.

Anonymous said...

John, this post lacks your usual intellectual rigor.

Your original post made a *normative*, not a legal, judgment. You argued that Google should be applauded for firing Damore. That this was a good thing. When challenged as to whether you actually read the memo, you default to the fact that Google has the legal *right* to fire Damore.

But that misses the point. The issue in your original post was not whether Google had a legal right to behave that way. The issue was whether the firing was a good thing. A good thing for Google, its shareholders, society, etc.

And on that score, the contents of the actual memo matter...not the knee jerk reaction of the mass media. So in that sense, how can you be indifferent as to whether the memo is right or wrong? The memo actually makes the point that population averages should not discriminate against the individual. Re-read it please....

Anonymous said...


One of the points made in the memo is that google are not hiring the best and that they are instead hiring to meet diversity quotas. That's essentially the same point you are making above, that google should be hiring the best engineers regardless.

You make a good point ensuring your workplace is attractive enough for other people to work at, but in doing so you flat out dismissed James Dramore's point which is largely the same as yours except it comes at it from the opposite angle. Great software engineers might be put of from working at Google if they feel they are disadvantaged against - seems you have ignored that possibility.

Anonymous said...

Not a single comment here claims that Google has no legal right to fire Damore. Are you being honest in your assessment of your readers' disagreements?

Sean said...

I think its less about talent and more about negative press.

Their users are far more diverse than their workforce (or available workforce for that matter as I think he's essential right on biological bell curves etc). But a backlash from using google from the 5-10% who really care about diversity for diversity sake would costs google a lot of money. Maybe enough money that another platform can start and make enough money to compete with core google products and take away their monopoly.

He deserves paid. Google broke California labor law. They made the right decision. I'm not a fan of labor regulations and think most should be eliminated; but the law is the law. Make california change their labor laws. He work-place rights were violated so his legal case is strong.

yoyodyne said...

John, by the same logic you are okay with the Hollywood blacklist from the 1950s? Private sector can fire anyone then want for whatever socio-political beliefs.

Most rational people have a problem with the blacklist, I'd think you were one of them.

Pichar's knee-jerk reaction was a mistake, even if firing Danmore was the ultimately correct thing to do.

Unknown said...

Dear John,
You are wrong.

Ktwoo2u said...

Firing Damore just made it more difficult for Google to hire the best people. Who wants to work for the thought police? Only those who are comfortable having their ideas squelched if they do not conform. BTW, I'm a woman who has successfully competed in the workplace for 40 years, and I do not need this kind of idiotic, robotic thinking in order to do my job. Shame on Google.

Anonymous said...

Turn Google into a public utility, it ain't Bell Labs.

Where is all this innovation you speak of?

Please list the things Google invented, not improved.

Anonymous said...

John, this is not what you write in your post - if Google needs to hire the best, and don't do so, the memo points it.
if Google has the right to impose a code of conduct, which contradicts his need to hire the best, the memo also points to the brain drain that will follow.

So Google, and you, are contradicting yoursleves.

firing is of course Google's right. yet it only validates the memo's point.

Anonymous said...

David Brooks of NYTIMES comes out saying Sundar should be fired for firing Damore.

Note Damore never completed his Ph.D. in biology from Harvard which was on his Linkedin profile two weeks ago, but not now.

狂猪 said...

John, I've been reading your blog since the start of the Great Recession in late 2008 and I've enjoyed your analysis and writing. However, this time you are wrong!

You demanded that Google hire the best. Yet, Google's diversity program, the part that James Damore strongly objected, tried to bias the hiring base on gender and race to met diversity objectives (i.e. lower the bar). Furthermore, in the name of diversity, Google also has programs with enrollments that are based on gender and race.

How is this type of hiring practice at Google not the exact opposite of what you demanded of Google?! How do you hire the best, the elite, when its not based primary on competence?!

To me, James Damore's memo is exemplary of good analytical papers: logical and backed by deep research (his observation at google and citing of numerous research paper from reputable sources). In deed, the Damore's memo is similar to your many investment analysis that attracted me to your site!

Here is another take from a woman in tech:

Here is a nytimes op ed:

I strongly recommend rereading James Damore's original unmolested memo. Many mainstream media site butchered the original memo by reformatting, removing charts and removing sources. I really hope you'll reconsider.

Man, to be honest, it bugs the hell out of me that someone as logical and smart as you, that you couldn't see Damore and yourself wanted the exact same thing! Deep sigh.

Anonymous said...

People come her to gleam some glimmer of hope that John will share a great idea and you will all out smart the system, alas the market is rigged, there are no ideas, so John has turned to the dirty business of politics where he thinks he is, again, smarter than everybody else.

John smugness is unbecoming.

Two things, stay out of my jazz clubs on the lower eastside and ban me from this site, I would not want to have a beer with you, you failed that test.

Priyanka said...

This is different outlook to the memo. Very opinionated and well written.

In doing this he literally should not care whether men are better software engineers or mathematicians on average than women. Google should not interested in average. Google should be interested in the best -- I agree on this and many more things you have said.

James Damore's memo and the aftermath has left many questions unanswered. I have written about the arguments he presented, the history of women in CS and the experience of being a woman in CS. My opinions would seem quiet different from yours though. Do read and leave a comment with your opinion :)

Anonymous said...

Taking this logic to the next step, doesn't Google need to fire Sundar Pichai now? He's made a lot of male programmers fearful of speaking freely about possible improvements to company culture and strategies. Firing Damore clearly reduces Google's ability to attract, hire, motivate anyone outside of the social justice echo chamber.

Anonymous said...

Can we follow this line of thinking one step further? Because the firing clearly has a chilling effect on the ability of workers to speak freely about improving Google culture. And the firing detracts from Google's ability to attract, hold, motivate and direct anyone outside of their ideological echo chamber. So the firer should be proudly fired?

Anonymous said...

The Theranos fraud was directly aided and abetted by the politically correct culture in the US. Many people turned a blind eye to blatantly obvious red flags there in part because Holmes was a woman - they wanted to believe so badly that a female Steve Jobs had been found that they refused to acknowledge the obvious. It took a critical (non-PC) WSJ journalist to finally expose the truth. Note also that PC-bias in the US was largely responsible for the Rolling Stone UVA rape controversy and the Duke lacrosse rape case [both of which consisted of completely fabricated allegations, i.e. lies]. These types of events will happen again and again when a culture continues to prioritize political correctness over truth.

Anonymous said...

Did you really suggest Google hire a woman that died over 50 years ago?

Orwell said...

Google's Code Jam Finalists - "the very best software engineers" Are All Men For 14th Year In A Row (Damore was a semi-finalist)

The ratio of male to female engineers in the RHS tail of the distribution of coders and scientists is heavily skewed to male.

[Note: The article is slightly inaccurate, there was 1 woman out of 25 finalists in 2011 - but still damning numbers for you]

Anomalous Cowshed said...


"The issue is that Google has (an entirely appropriate) code of conduct and like all private sector organisations it has the right to impose that on its staff."

Then why did it get to CEO level? What were Google's management doing, such that Pichai apparently had to interrupt his holiday?

The whole situation suggests that much of Google's management is lacking a certain something.

The Sophist said...

John, you're absolutely right. And let me add that it's not just about gender issues. When there were techbus protests in SF a few years back, I worked at a large tech company, and we were instructed to -not- talk to reporters. Gee gosh, wonder why not? And in 19yr at IBM, I knew better than to blog about any tech matters, b/c I would have contradicted my employer. I know a (well-respected hardware) guy who stated publicly that Itanium was a gigantic farce, at a big conference -- the guy was buried in PR flacks in minutes.

Any -idiot- knows that when you work for a big company whose well-being depends even somewhat on public relations, you have NO voice -- the company bought your voice.

These conservatives whining now .... just never thought that "laissez-faire capitalism for thee" meant it applied to them too.

Anonymous said...

I have not read Google's code of conduct, and you may have neither. In any case, I have never seen a code of conduct punishing the discussing of consequences of that code of conduct. Nothing else did Damore. As far as I understand, Damores paper was fine with Google representatives until someone leaked it to the outside.

Presumably, it is not the code of conduct, it is the Google management, which became nervous about shit storms, and decided to fire Damore. I am sure, he has not been gifted, he was payed for maltreatment in the face of Google's code of conduct.

And your example with the female math genie does not match. You should rather look at the ratio of male:female students in engineering, computer science, math (avge. of about a twenty year window). It would be ignorant to expect a much different ratio in companies they work for. If there are statistics about best students, you may take that ratio for Google instead, assuming a non-disciminatory hiring practice.

G-Orwellzie said...

Men dominate among the elite coders.

Sandymount said...

It is hard to make your post logically coherent John.

As an investor in the company you would presumably want them to hire best talent, period. Damore was rated superb on his performance reviews internally, the highest rating (of an already elite cohort). He had skin in the game and spoke up when it would cost him. Much more impressive than costless virtue signalling of most.

His comments which you say you don't care if correct or not were the reason he was fired, which you say you agree with. What is it you agree with, they fired him for views you dont care if correct or not because even if correct youd rather have Google find ways to deliberately hire people based on non performance metrics to get a better outcome in terms of diversity?

They are a private company and if they want to do that, they can but as an investor, it is a red flag that social engineering is taking priority. I am not sure why you can't admit that, eg a more honest post would have been 'in the interests of my liberal views I dont care if a shareholding I own is hiring based on gender /race quotas at the expense of the best talent because I dont think it will make a meaningful difference to my investment thesis and morally I like their agenda'.

Pointing to a women in the right tail is a bit of a strawman. The point is the distribution of the population as a whole (as was made clear in his memo).

Lyall Taylor said...

Sorry John couldn't disagree more with you on this mate.

Your premise is that Damore necessarily made Pichai's goal of hiring the very best people harder is false. What if a majority of the very best programmers happen to be male? Google is currently pushing for a 50/50 gender split irrespective of the underlying population-level gender distribution of the very best programmers. If Google is wrong in its presumption that the distribution is 50/50, it will result in a lower quality of programmers being hired on average, as their gender is prioritised over their capability.

That was Damore's whole point: you should hire the best programmers irrespective of their gender, and we should not assume that the ideal mix is 50/50 men/women, as their may be good & logical reasons why the distribution of software engineering talent is not evenly distributed across the genders.

This blog post offers an alternative perspective. If I were a Google shareholder I would be very concerned.

Anonymous said...

any views on blockchain effects on current tech companies and banks?
What about all these new companies using blockchain and issuing coins?
Any views?

dede said...

On the content of the memo, it is against positive discrimination and I think it was a good one.

On the fact that a company should be able to dismiss anybody they want, I agree, however, I am not familiar about the way the memo was leaked but it seemed to me that the reason was that management disagreed with the contents : if one considers that management should be listening to their underlings because they can sometimes learn things that need to be addressed, this is not a good message sent to employees, current or prospective...

Anon 408 said...

"If you are Sundar Pichai (the CEO of Google) your job is to attract, hold, motivate and direct the very best"

"The truth or falsity of James Damore's assertions in the memo[...] should not interest Sundar Pichai. "

That's how I attract, hold, & motivate the best, too!

Unknown said...

I think your logic is pretty bad, frankly.

Say we have two mandates:

1) Only hire the best, and

2) Achieve 50% gender balance among employees

How can we possibly do this when most software engineers are male? I understand that it is conceivably possible that 50% of the best might be female, but it is microscopically improbable because we would have to assume, with no evidence whatsoever, that the distribution of talent among the limited quantity of female engineers skews heavily to the right.

Since the the mandates are likely incompatible, and there is evidence google is prioritizing the second, then we can conclude the first is being sacrificed and if anything you should thank Damore for alerting you to this reality.

Anonymous said...

"After diversity attempts at large companies and my own startup and the attempts to start tech early with my own children, I can tell you that our obsession with diversity and attempts to solve it are only fucking it up for the actual women in tech out there!
What do I mean by this?
We get upset about the state of gender diversity in tech
We make a pact to hire more women
The pool has (a lot) more men than women
After some rounds of low to no success, we start to compromise and hire women just because we have to
These women show up at work and perform not as great as we want them to
It reinforces to the male population that was already peeved by the diversity push that women aren’t that good at tech after all
They generalize that observation on the entire women in tech community
Sooner or later, some such opinions get out there
The feminists amongst us go crazy
The diversity advocates are caught in a frenzy and make a pact to hire more women (again)
This loops. Infinitely."

Anonymous said...

Any views on crypto currencies? bitcoin...

Anonymous said...

agree 100% with what you wrote in the comment, but that’s not what you wrote in the blog post. Of course Damore has become a liability to Google, there is probably something in the code of conduct he violated (though I, for one, haven’t checked, and I was under the impression that the memo wasn’t unprompted — employees were invited to give their opinion on the gender issue). But it gained notoriaty, the relevant public opinion was against it and Google saw no reason to take a hit because of it. In any case, I believe an employer should have freedom of association, hiring and firing at will, and defending Google‘s right to do it is a bit of a waste — 5ey don’t need your support.

However, in the blogpost you based your view on the memo‘s theses being wrong and counter to Google‘s best interest in hiring women, and you deprecated Damore for that. I think that’s much harder to defend, and you make a poor job of it

Anonymous said...

I believe is not about problem is more confusing feminism with being feminine and acknowledge the positive gender differences

Muhammad al-Khwarizmi said...

"The truth or falsity of James Damore's assertions in the memo literally do not interest me and should not interest Sundar Pichai."

This is how you advertise that you're a quality thinker and someone who should be listened to. Because you care about truth and logic.

Anonymous said...

Hempton's view is women are essentially children that can't handle facts and will be triggered if they are viewed as different from men in any way, except in the ways that benefit them. Seems like Hempton is the one who really has a negative view of women being able to understand things like science and facts. Hempton's view is "don't say anything that a bunch of closed-minded women might take completely out of context." This won't be published because he doesn't want dissent here. My previous comments weren't published either and that was in August.

Anonymous said...

'I literally do not care whether it is right or wrong. It is not relevant to running Google.'
What an absolute load of rubbish. It is one-hundred percent pertinent to running google. Talk about blind spots.

'I would have been proud to fire him.'
That says a lot about you as a person, that you would be proud to do so. Typical morally involuted aggression of those who push the never clearly defined end point mantra of 'diversity'.

Unknown said...

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CrocodileChuck said...

'I would have been proud to fire him':

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