Google executives have responded to a 3,300-word document written by one of its male engineers that argues women aren’t suited for tech jobs for “biological” reasons.
Over the weekend, Google diversity vice president Danielle Brown and engineering VP Ari Balogh addressed the controversial document in separate messages to Google employees.
Brown and Balogh condemned the document’s assertions and defended Google’s diversity efforts.
The issue immediately ignited a fierce debate on social media.
The author, who has not been identified by CNN Tech, is reportedly a rank-and-file software engineer at Google. He contended that Google doesn’t have more female engineers because men have a “higher drive for status.”
He argued that the company’s diversity programs — including seminars that teach young girls coding skills — are “highly politicized.” The diversity work, he said, “alienates non-progressives.” He also said he believes that Google’s commitment to hire more women stands to make the company less competitive, and that the gender wage gap is a myth.
The author wrote that higher rates of anxiety disorders among women may explain why there are “lower numbers of women in high stress jobs.”
But Balogh, the engineering boss, said such “stereotyping” that is “deeply troubling” and “harmful.”
Diversity VP Brown, who was hired just weeks ago, wrote a lengthier response.
“Part of building an open, inclusive environment means fostering a culture in which those with alternative views, including different political views, feel safe sharing their opinions,” Brown wrote.
But, she said, “like many of you, I found that [the document] advanced incorrect assumptions about gender.”
“[I]t’s not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages,” Brown said.
Yonatan Zunger, a former senior engineer who recently left the company, responded in a Medium post.
“Despite speaking very authoritatively, the author does not appear to understand gender,” he wrote. “Perhaps more interestingly, the author does not appear to understand engineering.”
Parisa Tabriz, an engineering director at Google, called the manifesto “harmful.”
Another Twitter user, who identifies herself as a programmer, said she is considering leaving the company if Google’s human resources “does nothing.”
“This is not entirely new behavior. …What is new is that this employee felt safe enough to write and share an 8 page sexist screed, internally,” Baker wrote.
Under the heading “Reply to public response and misrepresentation” — the screed’s author insists that he is “not denying that sexism exists,” and he doesn’t “endorse using stereotypes.”
Google — like most large Silicon Valley firms — has long grappled with stubbornly low rates of non-white and non-male workers.
An annual diversity report the company made public in June showed that about 69 percent of its total workforce is male, and 56 percent of all employees are white.
Google leadership has for years publicly expressed the desire to increase diversity in its workforce.