Diversity Australia Blog
Diversity Australia Blog
Google has fired the employee who wrote an internal memo suggesting men are better suited for tech jobs than women, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The employee’s firing followed an email earlier in the day from Google chief executive Sundar Pichai to the company’s employees, saying that the memo writer violated company policy. Google parent Alphabet hasn’t named the employee.
Mr Pichai is the most senior executive to respond to a growing controversy that in recent days has raised difficult questions for one of the world’s largest companies on how it would handle an employee offering opinions that were, to some, unpopular and offensive.
Last week, a Google engineer published an internal memo that criticised Google’s efforts to increase diversity at the company, arguing the program discriminated against some employees.
The employee also said that men were generally better at engineering jobs than women and that a liberal bias among executives and many employees makes it difficult to discuss the issue at Google.
“We strongly support the right of Googlers to express themselves, and much of what was in that memo is fair to debate, regardless of whether a vast majority of Googlers disagree with it,” Mr Pichai said in his email to staff.
“However, portions of the memo violate our code of conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace,” he said.
He added that the company’s code of conduct requires “each Googler to do their utmost to create a workplace culture that is free of harassment, intimidation, bias and unlawful discrimination.”
The memo went viral inside the company and was publicly criticised online by Google employees. Google’s diversity chief also criticised the memo in a note to employees on Saturday night.
The employee’s firing could spark a larger debate inside and outside Google about free speech. Mr Pichai said he scheduled an employee town hall to discuss the issue on Thursday.
Google’s new diversity chief criticised the contents of an employee’s memo that went viral inside the company for suggesting Google has fewer female engineers because men are better suited for the job.
Danielle Brown, Google’s vice president for diversity and inclusion, sent a letter to employees Saturday saying the employee’s memo “advanced incorrect assumptions about gender” and is “not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages,” according to a copy of the statement published by Motherboard, which earlier reported on the employee’s memo.
The Google employee argued company initiatives to increase diversity discriminate against some employees, and that a liberal bias among executives and many employees makes it difficult to discuss the issue at Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., according to a copy of the memo published by Gizmodo.
Some Google employees denounced the memo on Twitter, and Motherboard reported it was being shared widely among staff. That backlash drew a response from Ms. Brown, who joined Google in late June.
“Given the heated debate we’ve seen over the past few days, I feel compelled to say a few words,” she said in the statement. “Diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of our values and the culture.”
When reached for comment, a Google spokesman referred to Ms. Brown’s statement and an additional statement posted online by Google engineering executive Ari Balogh, one of the managers of the employee who wrote the memo. Mr. Balogh wrote the memo “troubled me deeply” because it suggested “most women, or men, feel or act a certain way. That is stereotyping, and it is harmful.”
The controversy over the memo comes as the tech industry struggles with gender and diversity issues. Many tech companies have admitted a majority of their employees are white or Asian men, particularly in technical and leadership roles. Some tech companies and investors have faced a string of sexual-harassment scandals over the past year.
For its part, Google is pushing back against a Labor Department investigation into its pay practices that spilled into court recently.
The Labor Department in January sued Google for more compensation data as part of a routine audit into the company’s pay practices, a probe that is possible because Google provides advertising and cloud services to the federal government. Last month a judge ruled Google had to turn over a narrower set of data than what the department sought, saying that the request was too broad and invaded Google employees’ privacy.
During the case, a Labor Department official testified investigators found evidence that Google systematically pays women less than men.
Google has denied the accusations, saying its internal analyses have shown no pay gap among Alphabet’s nearly 76,000 employees. The Labor Department hasn’t formally charged Google with any wrongdoing.
Google said in its annual diversity report in June that 31 per cent of its employees are women, unchanged from a year prior. The percentage of black employees also was unchanged at 2 per cent, and the number of Hispanic workers increased by 1 percentage point, to 4 per cent. Most Google workers remain white and Asian men.
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The Digital Australia study, an annual look at the way Australians are playing video games, was released today. It features all the statistics that you might expect from such a survey. Yep, pretty much everyone in Australia is playing video games. Yep, video games aren’t just for kids. Yep, people play video games to stay sharp, healthy and happy.
Every statistic one needs to arm themselves with when dealing with the powers that be is there.
But there are also a few interesting nuggets of information in there for those of us who are already on board with the video games.
For example, did you know that 92% of people play games with other human beings? I mean I suspected that number would be high. I didn’t know it would be that high.
Did you know that 66% of people want more gender diversity in video game characters.
That 65% of people want more age diversity in video game characters.
Did you know that 28% of gamers have shared videos of themselves playing. That’s insane to me, but absolutely a sign of the times.
3135 people from 1234 households were surveyed for the Digital Australia 2018 study.
God bless Jeff Brand and the good folks at Bond University. Their work has been instrumental in providing the numbers that allow the IGEA to represent the games industry at the government level. What’s interesting to me is how these numbers have settled. In 2007 only 79% of households had gaming devices. Now that number is 93% and has been since 2013 — almost as if games have arrived at that point of ubiquity and isn’t going anywhere. Supporting that — the average age of gamers has been steadily increasing ever since this research began. Almost as if we’re all getting older together — with video games.
Read more at https://www.kotaku.com.au/2017/07/how-australians-are-playing-video-games-in-2017/#oJGHYxOoZZPrtPCg.99
If the ABC were audited for diversity, the report might read something like as follows: “Evidence suggests that the ABC’s organisational culture reflects structural discrimination. The staff profile is unrepresentative and produces marginalisation of outsiders or ‘others’. This marginalisation persists due to apparent discrimination in recruitment and promotion practices. As a consequence, the ABC’s program content reflects bias that reinforces the privilege of insiders while stereotyping and demonising those excluded from the existing power structure. Cultural change is required to transform the ABC from an unrepresentative public institution to an organisation that puts the public good ahead of in-group power and privilege.”
From my early years in the university sector, I worked for various equal opportunity and anti-discrimination units. As a part of that work, I conducted organisational audits of equity and diversity. After several years, I saw that the movement for equity was destroying diversity of the kind that matters in education: intellectual diversity. Universities replaced the West’s civilisational wellspring of freedom of thought and speech, mastered by learning the art of public reason, with the comparatively superficial culture of skin diversity.
In the 21st century culture of public education and media, diversity is often measured by skin colour or gender. Diversity of thought is devalued, especially in the arts and humanities.
Despite the spread of discrimination and affirmative action policies across the public sector, little attention is paid to intellectual and political diversity. Rather, the equity and diversity agenda has come to resemble what former Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau considered the Maoist approach. In the book Two Innocents in Red China, he praised Mao Zedong’s approach to racial minority groups because it did “not try to assimilate them but … make them understand the blessings of Marxism”. Trudeau pioneered a nationwide policy of multiculturalism. The multicultural ideal was a diversity of races united in ideological conformity to Marxism.
“The ABC’s political bias seems most apparent in stories related to border security, immigration, identity politics and Islam.”
The diversity agenda sometimes reflects the founding ideal of multicultural policy: a culture where race or gender diversity is encouraged as long as members conform to PC ideology. Islamic activist Linda Sarsour is celebrated as a leader of the US women’s march despite appearing to wish for violence against women who disagree with her. On Twitter, Sarsour wrote of two dissidents: “I wish I could take their vaginas away — they don’t deserve to be women.” One of her would-be victims was author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who suffered female genital mutilation as a child. Apparently that wasn’t enough.
The ABC has not admitted to a lack of political diversity in its staff profile or systemic political bias in its programming. Yet the largest survey in 20 years of political attitudes among journalists found that 73.6 per cent of ABC journalists support Labor or the Greens. The Sunshine Coast University research also found that 41.2 per cent of ABC staff surveyed voted for the Greens. As Chris Kenny wrote in The Weekend Australian, the “federal vote ceiling” for the Greens is just over 10 per cent. On those figures, the ABC’s staff profile is highly unrepresentative of the Australian general public.
The ABC’s political bias seems most apparent in stories related to border security, immigration, identity politics and Islam. Many believe that the ABC pushes the PC party line backing porous borders, minority politics and the censorship of dissenters under discrimination law while demonising border integrity, conservatism, Judeo-Christianity and Western civilisation. In 2014, the broadcaster admitted that its reports that the navy had burned refugees were wrong. A previous audit found bias in ABC reporting on Tamil asylum-seekers.
Last week’s 7.30 was criticised for bias against Christians after presenters inferred that evangelical or conservative Christianity could lead to domestic violence. ABC presenter Leigh Sales said: “We talk about women in Islam but statistically it is evangelical Christian men who attend church sporadically who are the most likely to assault their wives.” To my knowledge, there is no cross-country research comparing male violence against women in Islamic and Christian communities. The relevant study cited was by American researcher Steven Tracy.
A series of lies by omission resulted in the perception that conservative or evangelical Christianity can lead to domestic violence. For instance, the ABC omitted Tracy’s related finding that: “Conservative Protestant men who attend church regularly are … the least likely group to engage in domestic violence. The ABC also omitted interviews that conflicted with the presenters’ line of commentary.
Ean Higgins reported that Sydney’s Anglican Archdeacon for Women Kara Hartley was interviewed for over an hour by Julia Baird. Hartley spoke at length about the church’s positive work in combating domestic violence. Her comments were excluded from the program.
Brisbane’s Catholic Archbishop Mark Coleridge responded to an ABC request for comments about a related essay by Baird and Hayley Gleeson. The ABC reported falsely that he had not responded.
It should go without saying that domestic violence is an abhorrent form of abuse to be condemned without reservation. Research on causation should be funded where preliminary research finds specific attributes correlated with higher rates of abuse. The public often funds such research and should be informed also when certain attributes are correlated with lower rates of abuse. The ABC neglected its public duty when it omitted the positive work of Christian churches in preventing domestic violence and the research finding that: “Conservative Protestant men who attend church regularly are … the least likely group to engage in domestic violence.”
In the coming 7.30 on violence against women in Islam, we might expect the ABC to consider the status of women under sharia. It might look at the prevalence of female genital mutilation and child marriage in Islamic countries and communities. It might consider why Islamic states enter the most reservations to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and justify it by appeal to sharia. Alas, we’re more likely to hear yet another version of: “We talk about women in Islam but … ” and find the blame shifted to the standard victims of politically correct thought.
My friend is actually a medical doctor so she could have been referring to a professional matter, but I knew exactly what she meant. “Yes,” I replied. “Isn’t it wonderful?”
For those who are not avid Whoviansit must be said that the BBC television show ‘Doctor Who’ refers only to the title of the show. In the story, the title character is only ever referred to as ‘The Doctor’, a Time Lord and extra-terrestrial being from the planet Gallifrey who explores the universe in a legendary time machine, the T.A.R.D.I.S. To clarify for non-nerds, the TARDIS refers to Time and Relative Dimension in Space.
The very fact that the title is ‘Doctor Who’ is indicative of the changing nature of this protagonist. It is not called ‘Doctor Him’ or ‘Doctor Who must only be a male doctor’. You see, ‘Doctor Who’ is actually a question and the BBC has now given us 13 different answers.
For those people who are not fans of the cult series, I really don’t understand why so many of you are getting upset about a show you don’t even watch.
And for those who are genuine Whovians, the entire premise of the show is based on the concept of bodily regeneration, when a physical injury appears to risk the life of the Doctor. Statistically speaking, after 12 incarnations in a male body, the probability of regeneration into a female body has to be pretty high.
Indeed, it was almost going to happen after the departure of the 11th Doctor, Matt Smith. Although anyone who has enjoyed the genius of Peter Capaldi could never doubt he was the absolute best choice for Doctor 12.
In the case of Capaldi, the transition from a youthful doctor (Smith) to a mature-aged one (Capaldi) barely ruffled a feather. Okay, it seems we are fine with age diversity in the regenerations of The Doctor.
But, some feathers were indeed ruffled when Jodie Whittaker was announced as the 13th and first female Doctor by the BBC after the Wimbledon final on Sunday evening in London.
On a lighter note, the announcement has spawned a series of memes and videos that have been incredibly funny. The best of these was done by ‘SBS: The Feed’ who created a video about a Doctor Who Helpline for devastated male fans:
But the reaction from some quarters to this reinvention has been overtly hostile, and I think reveals a level of discomfort with seeing women taking on roles traditionally held by men.
Breaking stereotypes and challenging established notions of power will always make uncomfortable those who benefit by maintaining the status quo. As with any change, however, there always has to be a first before there is a second, and then a critical mass that changes the norm.
When Joanne Rowling handed in her manuscript for ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’, her British publisher insisted on using her initials only. She did not have a middle name so borrowed the letter ‘K’ from her grandmother’s name, Kathleen. The publishers thought that ‘Harry Potter’ was a book that would appeal to boys and they did not want them finding out that it had been written by a woman.
The success of the book soon outed J.K. Rowling’s gender. The ‘Harry Potter’ series has gone on to become one of the most successful book series in publishing history. The publishers seriously underestimated young boys who didn’t seem to care the books had been written by a woman. The book series appealed to a universal fan base not defined by gender, culture or age.
Likewise, the casting of Noma Dumezweni, a classically trained and, yes, a black actor, as Hermione Granger in the West End production of ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ that opened in mid-2016, was also met with controversy and accusations of ‘political correctness gone mad’.
Noma went on to win a Lawrence Olivier award for her portrayal of the middle-aged Hermione, the show has been a critical success and continues to play to sold-out daily audiences. As a huge fan of the book series, I was lucky enough to get tickets to the play in London late last year and I was not disappointed.
Most of the people who deplore deviations from traditionally ‘white’ or traditionally ‘male’ heroes and heroines tend to also be majorly invested, even subconsciously, in preserving their role as the dominant group in the culture.
But this is not how art works, nor literature, television or film. As creative forces, they must carry on challenging stereotypes, telling stories through different eyes, showcasing diverse narratives and continuing to reflect and make commentary on what is going on in society.
I suspect that history will also show that, far from diminishing the appeal of Doctor Who, Jodie Whittaker’s reign as the 13th Doctor will likely broaden the appeal of the show to include many more fans, especially children who will now being able to imagine themselves as a Time Lord rather than only ever being able to aspire to be a mere companion.