I'm not a Google employee, but most of my professional work is in support of Google’s business. I am very disappointed in the firing of James Damore and very disturbed by the reasons given for it. The statement: "To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK," shows an unconscious narcissism that amounts to a delegitimization of huge swaths of human experience. Saying that the Damore memo is "advancing harmful gender stereotypes" is deeply devaluing to women.
Women are people too,
not perfect porcelain dolls sitting untouched in the box. We have faults. Even if variation between groups was entirely random we would expect each group to be the worse in some comparisons. To say it is "harmful" to acknowledge that women as a group have fewer members well suited to certain jobs is harmful to the right of women as a group to be regarded as human, with all the guaranty of imperfection that humanity implies.
Women are people too,
But we are not men. we are different and our preferences can be valid. One of the things I hate about feminism is how feminists are always assuming men's preferences are right. If you surveyed people on the choice between happiness and loving relationships vs. money and power, very few would say it’s always better to choose money and power. But when feminists realize there is a trade off going on between money and life satisfaction, suddenly the one men are taking, money, is assumed to be the better bargain. Why not even consider that women are making smart choices and getting the better end of the bargain? When it comes to Google, I think there is a considerable hubris in their expectation for how normal it will be to be interested in computer programming. Why should it be shocking that women disproportionately prefer to be pediatricians rather than programmers. I see nothing either immoral or shocking in that preference, even when it is wide spread across a group. But Google seems to imply that there is something so horrible about this choice that it must be hidden.
Women are people too.
We can deal with the truth. We can deal with logic and arguments and people who disagree with us. Even when the truth initially hurts it is better for us in the long run to know the truth. I'm much more thing oriented (vs people oriented) than the average woman because I have Autism. And I'm a little more people oriented (vs thing oriented) than the average person with Autism because I'm a woman. And there is nothing wrong with either of these orientations. It is useful for me to know this about myself and for those around me to acknowledge it. Now, I'm much less eager to seek out stress than the average woman or man because I have Autism. I'm fairly good at coping with this, but it could still be an issue for some jobs. It would be no favor too me to pitch me into a job I could not succeed at. Some people, for reasons more of politics than of science, still deny that biology plays a part in the difference in male and female personality distributions. But it is quite clear that there is a biological component to the issues that persons with Autism have with stress. There are definitely factors that make me biologically less suited to high stress jobs. Does that lower my moral worth? Does that make me less human? Does that mean all Google employees must shun me and wall me out of their conscious awareness? It shouldn’t mean that, because even when there are facts that aren't fair people should be able to deal with those facts. When there is an idea we don’t like we should be ready to confront it, rather than acting like a Victorian lady demanding that table legs be called limbs least she be reminded of biological realities. If the idea that women are more neurotic is false, it’s good that those who hold it discuss it openly, so that good information can change their views. If a manager is concerned that female employees might be unhappy to be put in high stress positions, it's good if he can openly ask them about their preferences. Everyone loses if a set of common beliefs are pushed underground so no one can check if they are true or ask if they apply to an individual.
Men are people too,
and to deliberately discriminate against them on the basis of their sex is unfair and it undercuts the rationale for opening professions to women in the first place. It artificially creates difference and distinction where it does not need to be. Men and women will end up on different tracks so there can never be honest comparison between them. I feel that hurting men just for being men is wrong and I don’t want to be a party to it.
I'm one of those women not hired by Google. I don't have a fancy college degree. While I did a little bit of coding I never pursued it with single minded obsession. I might have learned to be a moderately good programmer if I could have started in an entry level job, but Google outsources the basic programming tasks to foreign workers.
I'm glad to have a job that let's me support my family. I do good work that increases utility in the world. But my satisfaction in my work does go down a little bit knowing that the company I work in support of thinks acknowledging the existence of people like me is a firing offence.