Google Can’t Seem To Tolerate Diversity

This is not a new problem. It goes back to Charles Murray’s The Bell Curve and (as she mentions) the mau mauing of Larry Summers out of Harvard when he had the temerity to suggest that math ability in men may have longer statistical tails than in women.

In reading commentary on Twitter, I see a lot of straw-man misrepresentation of what Damore allegedly wrote (I haven’t read it yet). For instance:

But this is what one would expect from people who view everything through a lens of racism, sexism, genderism, otherism. All that matter to them is what group you’re a member of, and the notion of treating people as individuals is anathema to them, because individualism itself is anathema to them (it’s selfish donchaknow). So when someone makes a statistical statement about a group (valid or not), they must take it as an insult to every member of that group. (Note, this isn’t the same as things like talking about “rape culture,” which in fact does implicitly accuse every man of wanting to and finding it acceptable to rape, which is where the #NotAllMen hashtag came from).

Of course many women face sexism, and of course many women have been discouraged as individuals to go into STEM for no reasons other than they’re women, and that’s terrible. And everywhere it occurs, it should be fought and women who want to and are capable of advancing in those fields should be instead encouraged. But it would be utterly illogical for any woman to be discouraged by a simple statistical reality, because no woman is a statistic.

But the notion that every group should be represented in every endeavor in exact proportion to their representation in society at large is…insane. Men and women really are different, and they are statistically likely to be more interested in, and better at, different things. So if there really is a goal that we are going to get as many percentage of women into STEM as there are in the population, it is either doomed to failure, or it will doom whatever organization that attempts to do it, in terms of having to compete with other organizations that make technical excellence their priority instead.

And if Google becomes Mozilla, I won’t weep for it. And after this incident, I will be even more adamant in not trusting them with my data. Because I’m sure I’d be at the top of one of their blacklists.

[Update a couple minutes later]

It’s ironic to note 1) That these women who claim to be so great at STEM who are upset at this are apparently unable to deal with statistics and
2) That when Larry Summers said what he said, he was actually claiming that women are on average better than men at math, because the tail goes both ways.

But apparently “average” is an alien concept to them. Perhaps they think that everyone should be above it.

[Update a few minutes later]

Some sane thoughts from Julia Galef:

…as far as I can see, there are only two intellectually honest ways to respond to the memo:

1. Acknowledge gender differences may play some role, but point out other flaws in his argument (my preference)

2. Say “This topic is harmful to people and we shouldn’t discuss it” (a little draconian maybe, but at least intellectually honest)

Unfortunately most people have taken option 3, “Pretend there is no evidence of gender differences relevant to tech and only a sexist could believe otherwise.”

I’m going to try to cite only women in this post, just because, even though it’s sexist.

[Update early evening]

Many (but surely not all–there will be many more to come) of the lies that the media has told about the memo have been collected. By a woman.

[Wednesday update]

Kirsten Powers and other women are amazed at the lying and hysteria over this.

36 thoughts on “Google Can’t Seem To Tolerate Diversity”

  1. Because of this imbalance, this fall, a random 20% of those women enrolling in “Gender Studies” and the like should be required instead to take and pass basic scientific and engineering courses like Calculus, Chemistry, Physics, Statistics, etc. It’s their duty to the Sisterhood.

    (I saw this today: “At Google, how many women does it take to change a lightbulb? That’s a trick question, because all the maintenance workers are Hispanic men.”)

  2. Suggesting that men and woman are different is so wrong we shouldn’t even have two words for it. Let’s just call them Wen (much better than moman don’cha think?)

    See… you can fix everything with the right word!

    While we’re at it we should remove reading, writing and arithmetic from college entrance requirements (Oh, I mean graduation… so microagressive.)

  3. Of course many women face sexism,

    And men also face similar things but it is doubtful that either sex encounters anything significant enough to halt a career’s progress unless it is the diversity ceiling which explicitly forbids some people from progressing.

    To the extent that society isn’t a meritocracy, the remedy should not be punative against out groups but rather to redouble efforts to ensure meritocracy is the system.

    and of course many women have been discouraged as individuals to go into STEM for no reasons other than they’re women, and that’s terrible.

    I have never seen women be the target of discouragement in school. The higher up in school I went, the more women there were and at all levels, women were in leadership roles as teachers and administrators. No one was ever singled out for their sex or received less attention because of their sex.

    I don’t think that is the case today, where women get extra attention and resources that are not available to males.

    But I didn’t do STEM, are alpha nerds really that different? I have always hung out with alpha nerds and they were never women haters. They were actually least likely to exhibit the “toxic masculinity” that feminist are so paranoid about.

    1. I have never seen women be the target of discouragement in school.

      Well, I know many who claim to have been, including one very close to me. Having grown up in that era, I have no reason to disbelieve any of them. Are you seriously claiming that in each and every case, they are lying or were imagining it? Because otherwise, I’m not sure what the point of your personal anecdote is.

      1. The left is seriously claiming that companies would rather pay men more than just hire woman. So which motivation is greater? Greed or sexism? This includes companies run by woman.

        As a boss in the restaurant industry when younger, I hired about 75% woman because those were the ones willing to do the work.

        Was sexism involved? Yes. I like girls, but the important issue was how well they would do their job. Guys tended to be less dependable (some extremely) but the best employee I had was a slow guy I never had to check up on. If I told him to do something I never had to worry if it would get done.

        There are a lot more variables to consider than gender. The ten page memo the former google employee wrote was extremely well written (I envy such writers.)

        Now we know where Google sits and their power to influence has to be considered.

      2. Having grown up in that era, I have no reason to disbelieve any of them.

        I guess I don’t know what era that was. In the current era, I don’t think there is any mass discrimination against women and there wasn’t while I was in school, which wasn’t too long ago.

        Are you seriously claiming that in each and every case, they are lying or were imagining it?

        Of course not and I didn’t see anyone personal stories in this post so why assume I was calling anyone a liar?

        The point of my anecdote, was that I didn’t see widespread discrimination against women or any women hating while I was in school. Whatever things were like in the distant past, they are not the same today.

        I think kids should peruse whatever studies interest them and that all kids should receive the same encouragement and attention needed to accomplish their goals regardless of their sex.

      3. Since I quoted you, it appears as if I was criticizing you personally but those quotes were just a jumping off point because those exact same sentiments are quite common in discussion on this topic.

        Sorry if that came across as a criticism of your personal experiences growing up or in industry.

        All I can say is that in my life, I have seen the opposite of the narrative put forward. My mother has some complaints but my sisters haven’t experienced anything worse than I have. Treating everyone well should be the goal. This is not the case with the current climate.

  4. I was frozen out of the NBA just because I’m short and can’t jump. Are those any reasons I should be denied my dream?

  5. Google is an advertising company which uses the income from the ads to fund a lot of money-losing ventures. So it’s an ideal candidate for SJWs to work at: no-one cares whether they do a good job because there are no customers to please.

    I’ve never been heavily reliant on Google for anything, but I’m now moving everything I can away from them.

  6. I’m yawning wider than the gender pay gap over here. If someone joined a Lutheran church then wrote a memo about why they should sell indulgences you would not be surprised if he were excommunicated.

    1. And that’s the point. Any institution controlled by SJWs takes on the characteristics of a church. And not the Unitarian church.

      No one expects the SJW Inquisition!!!

    2. They don’t just want to fire that guy but get anyone fired from Google and any other company they suspect might think similar to that guy. They also want to control the information available to you, mine and sell your personal data, and basically act as the privately controlled government dictator they wish they could be.

  7. Debra Soh put it down cold today in Globe and Mail. It’s not anti-diversity, it’s fucking science.

  8. A couple of years ago, Trump sponsored the annual Miss USA pageant. One of the ladies (I think 1st runner up) was a nurse and discussed her job during the session regarding talents. The next day, the non-STEM educated hacks on the View ridiculed the notion that this lady thought being a nurse was a STEM role rather than being a glorified maid. I submit these women given a broadcast platform did far more to discourage women from pursuing a STEM career than this one former Google employee. Most of those TV hacks still have their job despite backlash from nursing organizations nationwide.

    1. I can’t imagine a kid today, boy or girl, being discouraged by a person of power from going into STEM or any other field. But I could see the SJW twisting of events to fit a narrative.

      Say a girl says she wants to be an engineer and tells her guidance councilor. The councilor responds that that may not be a good fit for her because her math grades are too low. The student runs to twitter to complain and suddenly the councilor is fired for not lying to her about her academic prospects. The councilor pleads for mercy by pointing out they regularly tell girls with good math grades about the full range of occupations available but the outrage mob just doesn’t care.

      Similarly, widespread sexual harassment is only possible through using things like manspreading or a male daring to speak in the presence of a woman as examples. The trivialization, punative regulations, and programs of favoritism wont solve the problems they claim want solved.

      1. Wodun, I see it slightly different. See, the women of the View’s complaint was that the lady wasn’t all that, because she was only a nurse. If she wanted to be role model for women in STEM, she should have been a Doctor, because these non-STEM people associate Science and Medicine with Doctors but not Nurses.

        So using your example: “may not be a good fit for her because her math grades are too low”. This student is encouraged to go for the brass ring of being a Doctor, which means pre-Med with the intention of getting into Med School. Except they are mediocre in pre-Med and fall short, when they might have had a better chance at being a nurse, taken fewer unnecessary courses as nurses don’t need to know as much theory, and yet there is a shortage of them, and they are paid pretty well. Instead, she went for the Brass Ring, failed to achieve it, is bitter with the world, and has a higher debt with less chance of paying it back.

  9. That when Larry Summers said what he said, he was actually claiming that women are on average better than men at math, because the tail goes both ways

    Nitpick: Unless one bell curve has a different center point, won’t the average remain the same if the tails on both sides of the curve are equally longer or shorter on one curve vs. the other?

    (Re. Google, it was amusing to read the VP of Diversity’s response, which seemed to boil down to “everything you said about us is correct, and shut up, you monster!”

    Never trust a policy that says “we want open expression of ideas”, at least not until it’s tested. And Google has completely failed this test of its claimed policy.)

  10. It’s a pity that Damore didn’t clearly state whether in his opinion the different distributions of qualities between men and women included *ability* to code as well as a preference for other activities. He did clearly state his belief that women had stronger social skills, but I didn’t see anything about men having better coding skills. Even where he mentions that within SWE women tend to gravitate towards front-end work, he merely states that men are more inclined to go for hard tech work, not that they are better at it than women.

    But many commentators on the internet who have been critisising him harshly appear to be working under the assumption that he did say this. Perhaps he meant it, perhaps he didn’t. Perhaps he thought it, but didn’t want to say it. But calling for his head based on what you think that he was thinking is wrong.

    Of course, if he did mean that then I can understand why people are so upset about it. Nevertheless, it is certainly *legitimate* to ask the question if women are better or worse on average than men at programming. It would surprise me if there were significant differences in ability, and there is in fact some scientific evidence that there aren’t. Interestingly, people seem to have no problem with the fact that men on average are better at athletics than women or that women on average have stronger social skills than men.

    I’m not a mind reader, so I can’t tell what Damore thought. It would not surprise if me there were lots of tech douchebros who do think so at Google, as Silicon Valley has a reputation for being infested with douchebros, and that would certainly be wrong and offensive. So I can’t rule out Damore is one of them, but the memo by itself does not lead me to conclude that.

    But another point that I haven’t seen mentioned, and where I think Damore is wrong, is about the scope for more social interaction in tech roles. He notes that things like pair-programming could make coding more attractive to women, but thinks there is only so much work of that type available. I think that’s dead wrong.

    While it is certainly true that hard technical skills are important for programming, it’s also true that social skills are enormously important. Programmers in my experience tend to overestimate the importance of hard tech skills and tend to underestimate the importance of soft skills. More programmers and teams are limited by a lack of soft skills than a lack of hard skills.

    (Interestingly, programmers, especially young programmers, also tend to overestimate their own actual level of technical skill.)

    Ideally you would want to have people on your teams who have both strong coding skills and strong social skills, but it might be difficult to staff all your teams with such individuals, as they are rare. However, if you are able to find individuals who are at least average on both sets of skills and good on at least one, and if you make sure your team has good individuals of both sorts on it, then you can do spectacularly better than today.

    Note that I said people with strong technical skills (and at least moderate social skills) and people with strong social skills (and at least moderate technical skills), not men and women, and the difference is important. But if women are in fact better on average than men at social skills and no worse at coding skills, as the evidence appears to suggest, then this means that women should on average be *more* suitable than men for coding roles. And I believe this to be the case, with some caveats I don’t want to get into now.

    Still, this is only a statement of averages, so the correct course of action would not to be to recruit more women (though there may be other reasons for that too), but to recruit people with better social skills, and to help your existing employees to develop those skills if they don’t have them already. As a side-effect you’d likely end up recruiting significantly more women.

    1. But calling for his head based on what you think that he was thinking is wrong.

      Like that ever stops anyone. I’m always amused at the morons who assume that (among other things) because I’m skeptical about the need to panic about climate, that I must be a creationist.

      1. Its the same with evolution evangelists. If you point out how their belief has no impact on their lives and doesn’t make them a superior being, you will be mocked as a creationist, stupid, and sub-human. Rather than a strong belief in evolution, or global warming, making someone a better or more enlightened person, the opposite is the case 99% of the time.

    2. Nevertheless, it is certainly *legitimate* to ask the question if women are better or worse on average than men at programming.

      The question isn’t between groups of men and woman in the total population but rather the very small percentage of the population that google hires. Assuming they hire from the very smartest, what is the balance between males and females at this far extreme in purported intelligence? And if being the best of the best doesn’t entirely matter, maybe Google should change their requirements for everyone?

      And if working in a group is important, why would really smart men lack those skills and what allows women to be able to understand how to interact with these types of men? Could some of the feelings that women at Google have be because they really don’t understand how to work with people different than themselves?

      Being part of a successful group isn’t just getting people to cater to you but also learning how to cater to others. I think you are onto something about training for soft skills but I doubt the SJW pedagogy would work well.

      1. “Assuming they hire from the very smartest, …”
        Not a safe assumption once SJWs take over.

      2. Yeah, it’s all about conditional probabilities and which conditions are counted and which aren’t. What do you mean by your remark about SJW pedagogy? That pointing out such subtleties is unlikely to change their opinion? Unfortunately that’s likely true, as they seem driven by ideology and desired conclusions, not reason.

  11. It’s okay folks, Gizmodo found proof that Damore made a joke about jacking off in college. If that doesn’t prove he’s a lying sexist racist misogynist abelist homophobic alt-right snowflake deplorable scumbag, I don’t know what does.

    1. According to the source, a short humorous skit is typically performed by students during the annual retreat, and while they described the skits as typically a “roast,” they emphasized that “the goal is not to offend.”

      They must really hate Jon Stewart’s old channel, Comedy Central.

      Doesn’t reflect well on Harvard that they would ask young people to write and perform a “roast” and then get upset when the jokes are a little crude. I thought Harvard was run by smart people with good social skills?

      I am sure if they had a woman make a joke about masturbation, it would have been totally cool and empowering though.

      Also, note they Trumped this kid by not repeating the joke and only their characterization of it.

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