James Damore: Working at Google Is Like Being in a 'Cult'

A woman attempts to use a laptop
Credit
Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy  Getty Images Contributor

A woman attempts to use a laptop Credit Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy Getty Images Contributor

As controversy continues to swirl around James Damore, the Google engineer who was sacked after writing a memo about gender diversity at the company, the longtime New York Times columnist David Brooks has placed blame squarely on the shoulders of Google CEO Sundar Pichai. In that regard, he's been wildly successful. Damore said he shared the missive, titled "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber", about a month ago with specific individuals and groups focused on diversity before posting it to a mailing list called "skeptics" on August 2.

Last year, a Google security official sent a companywide email imploring employees not to leak information.

In the 10-page, 3,300-word manifesto, the 28-year-old argues that a gender gap at Google exists not exclusively because of sexism, but in part because of "biological" differences between men and women. The memo went public and created a social media storm.

"How did Google, the company that hires the smartest people in the world, become so ideologically driven and intolerant of scientific debate and reasoned argument?" he wrote. Pichai told employees there will be forums in the coming days, in lieu of the canceled town hall meeting.

A number of employees sent emails to Pichai and told managers that they planned to skip the meeting because they were anxious that they would face online reprisals for speaking out.

"I want you to know there's a place for you in this industry".

Google is a particularly intense echo chamber because it is in the middle of Silicon Valley and is so life-encompassing as a place to work.

"In recognition of Googlers' concerns, we need to step back and create a better set of conditions for us to have the discussion", Mr. Pichai wrote.

On Friday, Susan Fowler, the former Uber engineer who shone a spotlight on the ride-hailing giant's workplace culture and diversity issues, weighed in after Damore's op-ed.

Google's just-hired head of diversity, Danielle Brown, responded earlier with her own memo, saying that Google is "unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success".

"In assessing Google's action in firing Damore, it isn't necessary to decide which side is right, but only whether Damore's view is one that a Google employee should be permitted to express", Singer wrote in a column for Daily News. "This episode suggests he should seek a nonleadership position", Brooks wrote.

So, forthright opinions all around.

Needless to say, the reasons he gives are not a surprise.

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