Once upon a time, I was 28 and dumb. But I was never as dumb as author James Damore who wrote a 3,200 word manifesto saying the reason why women and some minorities aren't more represented at his firm is due to biological differences. True or false, that's offensive to the women and minorities who made it to Google.
Overall, Google's workforce is 69% male, 31% female. However, when it comes to technical positions, just 20% of the jobs are filled by women. 56% of the workforce is White, 35% Asian, 4% Hispanic, 2% Black, 4% Bi-racial, and less than 1% Other.
After a decade of trying to become more diverse, Google clearly has not done a great job since African Americans represent roughly 12.4% and Hispanics about 17% of the US population. Interestingly, when it comes to diversity, Asian Americans don't seem to count for some reason, even though they are an even smaller minority at only 6% of the US population.
Given Damore is now unemployed and facing potential financial difficulties (if he doesn't win his lawsuit), I wanted to discuss some important lessons everybody who depends on a job to survive should think about. This is a site about financial freedom after all.
I believe in free speech, but it must be conducted in a way that you don't jeopardize your livelihood. The world is a very sensitive place now. James could've written about saving baby pandas from poachers, but if a large percentage of his colleagues get pissed off as a result, he loses.
Lessons Learned From The Google Manifesto Fiasco
1) If you are not financially independent, try not to offend anybody. Something must have really bothered James to spend hours writing his manifesto. I'm guessing he was ticked off because he was passed over for a raise or promotion, and found it unfair that Google has career help programs specifically for underrepresented groups of people.
Welcome to the real world, where even working at one of the most difficult to join organizations can make you unsatisfied. Even though you've already won the job lottery (0.2% acceptance rate), you still think the system is stacked against you.
Check your bank account. Do you have at least a couple years of living expenses locked away? If not, then keep quiet. Check your net worth tracking account. Does it at least equal 20X your gross annual income? If not, then shut up. Check your passive income streams. Can they cover all your living expenses? If not, then what the hell are you doing trying to piss off your managers and peers?!
Performance is only 50% of the way to get ahead at a large organization. The other 50% is developing a large support network who will fight for you at every rung of the ladder. Ostracizing 30% of your peer group when you need a consensus to ascend is a career limiting move.
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2) Conform or perish. Before joining a company, you need to have a thorough understanding of the company's culture and ideology. Every large tech company in the SF Bay Area like Facebook, Google, Salesforce, Airnbnb and Apple has a left-leaning ideology. Therefore, after accepting a job offer, it's unwise to come out against your company's ideology.
Damore writes, “When it comes to diversity and inclusion, Google’s left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence.”
That's just the way it is. If you decide to parlay your Harvard Master's degree in Systems Biology (originally claimed PhD on LinkedIn profile) to become a software engineer at a company you don't respect for the sake of money and prestige, then that's on you. Find a company that has the ideology you believe in.
It's curious that only after his post went viral did he get fired. His post was published more than a month ago with nobody saying during this time not to continue. Now, none of his supporters are willing to stand up for him because they fear being ostracized as well.
No student is going to the University of Michigan to wear Ohio State sweaters to class. No person expects to live long if they continuously overeat. Nobody working at Exxon Mobile in Irving, Texas is going to come out and bash Exxon's right-leaning ideology. No financial freedom seeker expects to be rich without investing. Be congruent in your thoughts and actions.
Related: What If You Go To Harvard And End Up A Nobody?
3) Women have a powerful voice in the media. If you write about anything that may be construed as anti-women, you are putting your career and reputation in peril. The vast majority of people who have written about the Google Manifesto fiasco are women. The media leans left. Educational institutions lean left. Be aware. Here's a list of organizations that wrote about the subject and their authors:
NBC News – Alyssa Newcomb, Jo Ling Kent
Fortune – Ellen McGirt
Gizmod0 Kate Congert
Quartz – Gwynn Guilford
Wired – Nitasha Tiku
Inc. – Suzanne Lucas
Motherboard Vice – Louise Matsakis
Recode – Kara Swisher
Pando – Sarah Lacy
In many large organizations, women are well-represented in diversity leadership positions and HR roles. Don't make enemies with the very people who can decide your fate. If you are a heterosexual male who was constantly rejected by women growing up because you were a super nerd, instead of being angry, work on your communication skills instead.
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4) Lack of diversity is NOT hard fought across job functions. Someone on the Twitter echo chamber brought up a good point, “Nobody fights about lack of diversity in modest paying jobs.” So true if you think about different industries with a disproportionate number of men or women. For example, I don't recall seeing any outrage about the lack of men teaching K – 12 even though women make up ~75% of all teachers. Maybe I just missed it.
Teaching is one of the most important occupations in the world. Why aren't more equal rights advocates up in arms about the lack of equality? The simple and sad reason is because the median pay for an elementary teacher is only about $40,000 compared to a software engineer who can easily make $200,000+ in salary and stock.
Society is so wrapped up in money and prestige that they conveniently forget there is inequality everywhere, not just at famous companies which pay handsome salaries. If you choose to fight for equality, try to fight for equality for everyone. The people who make less probably need more help.
After the teaching industry, let's look for more racial representation in the NBA. I'd love to see at least 6% of the players be Asian. Basketball is huge in Asia and amongst Asian Americans. With over 4 billion Asian people in the world (more than half), more Asians in the NBA would be great for business.
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5) Employment is at-will. Unlike countries like France or Japan, where getting fired is unheard of, employees have little protection here in the United States. Allowing companies to fire employees for whatever reason is part of why we're the leaders in innovation. America is a cut throat society that thrives on capitalism.
See what the Supreme Court of California has to say about at-will employment.
“An employer may terminate its employees at will, for any or no reason … the employer may act peremptorily, arbitrarily, or inconsistently, without providing specific protections such as prior warning, fair procedures, objective evaluation, or preferential reassignment … The mere existence of an employment relationship affords no expectation, protectable by law, that employment will continue, or will end only on certain conditions, unless the parties have actually adopted such terms.”
As soon as you become mindful that you can be fired at any time, you'll be more willing to assimilate into the Borg. Make no mistake. If you do not moonlight or build alternative income streams, you've chosen to put your entire livelihood in the hands of an organization.
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6) Go Small Or Go On Your Own. If by now you're upset about having to conform to groupthink, leave and join a much smaller company or become an entrepreneur. Large companies naturally become more bureaucratic because they employ a larger representation of the American people (except for Google and many of the other tech companies per their diversity reports). One of the biggest fears every company has is getting sued for discrimination. Therefore, a tremendous effort is made to ensure proper systems are in place to make sure everybody gets along (except for at Uber).
As an entrepreneur for the past five years with only my wife to report to, I've found making work decisions to be 10X faster than when I worked at a firm with tens of thousands of people. We work with online contractors we've never met before e.g. our system administrator. We've had business meetings with hundreds of different men and women from all races and backgrounds. Not once did a person's sex or race come into consideration for working together. It always came down to whether the product was a natural fit for my writing or whether the person was competent to produce good work. We don't have the resources or time to care about everybody's feelings.
Don't turn into a cancer that negatively affects everyone you're working with. Someone else will happily take your place if you don't want it. After getting a terrible bonus despite strong performance, both my wife and I decided to engineer our layoffs instead of complain. We believed in ourselves more than our companies believed in us.
Either take the money and stop biting the hand that feeds you or move on. If you desire to overthrow your organization, develop some internal support first before running out of the bunker solo to face a thousand angry bullets. .
If You Need Money, Proceed With Caution
Life is already hard enough as it is. Don't make things harder on yourself by blowing up your career if you aren't already rich. It's OK to speak your unfiltered mind if you are OK with the consequences. Just know that whatever you write will last forever on the internet. Pick up the phone or meet someone face-to-face if you want to insult them. But before you do, learn some self-defense!
Political motive asymmetry is running rampant in this country. Each side assumes their ideology is based on love, and the opponent's ideology is based on hate. If each side can recognize the positives of both sides without sending in the executioner, our diversity will help us all improve.
Recommendation If You Want To Move On
if you want to leave a job you no longer enjoy, I recommend you negotiate a severance instead of quit. If you negotiate a severance like I did back in 2012, you not only get a severance check, but potentially subsidized healthcare, deferred compensation, and worker training.
When you get laid off, you're also eligible for up to roughly 27 weeks of unemployment benefits. Having a financial runway is huge during your transition period.
Conversely, if you quit your job you get nothing. Check out the book How To Engineer Your Layoff: Make A Small Fortune By Saying Goodbye.
It's the only book that teaches you how to negotiate a severance. It was recently updated and expanded thanks to tremendous reader feedback and successful case studies.
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Readers, did you read the Google Manifesto? If so, what do you think? Why don't more people fight for equality in modest or lower paying jobs? Has society become so infatuated with the top 1% that they've ignored the plight of everyone else? Why do people who don't have FU money like to make life harder on themselves?
126 thoughts on “The Google Manifesto: Conform Or Perish”
Possibly a moot point now that this topic has died down, but this is a different perspective of why there are less women in STEM than men. This definitely happens and it scares women away much to the joy of the “diversity haters”:
You only have first amendment rights that free you from government censureship. Your employer does not have to hear your speech. Pissing off your employer is a fools errand. If you hate a place and cannot figure out how to change the culture, it is more likely to go well for you if you either keep your opinions to yourself or find another employer. This is why I started my own business. I can say what I please and dress how I please because my boss is me. I cannot do that in my other job. As a lesbian, I have to keep my mouth shut about many coworkers’ “opinions” because I’m in the minority and have no control. I don’t have enough FU money.
It’s also a strange idea that you can and should bring your whole self to your job. Your job wants you to make them a profit. They don’t care that you are really moved by an obscure band from 1961 that “totally explains the world.” Do your job.
I agree with Abraham Lincoln: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt”.
I actually liked much of the Damore memo, but feel his reasoning is fundamentally flawed. While he frequently qualifies his statements by saying that “on average” the differences in the workplace are due to gender, and grants there are exceptions, he does, in fact, apply his own beliefs as generalizations. This pseudo-reasonableness is no better than the stereotypes he purports to oppose.
I would like to think this issue will disappear to some extent in the next ten or so years, as women become an even larger majority of individuals with a higher education than at present.
“No one ever talks about the REAL wage gap.
Female bartenders, strippers, escorts and porn stars make WAY more than their male counterparts.” – Ed Latimore
I just read the memo. Overall, it isn’t terribly offensive, but it is misguided.
It’s difficult to champion the let’s-treat-everyone-as-an-individual school and then follow with a list of biological weaknesses expressed in women (e.g., neurotic, agreeable, etc.). This list would have to be discounted as subjective and as worthless as a list outlining that men, in general, are more violent, etc.
The memo falls down on its’ face several times in succumbing to the lure of “general ideas”.
A few general and some specific tidbits from my own experience:
Little boys are given leggos. Little girls are given baby dolls and princess costumes.
A male teacher once told me (a female) to go stand outside the engineering dept. and “bat my eyelashes”. A separate male teacher accused me of cheating as I couldn’t have “written this myself” [an essay].
For many females, chauvinism is not a leftist fantasy.
I think it’s clear that men are more violent than women. Will anyone disagree with that? (I’m a man.)
This is a great example of keeping your work life and your personal life separate. Those controversial topics need to be kept to yourself or amongst friends outside of work.
If James Damore had such strong feelings about diversity he should have taken a more proactive approach to fixing the issue by encouraging Google to fund education/training programs for women and minorities. Not sure what he was hoping to achieve by posting this manifesto on an internal message board. Just asking for trouble…
….”encouraging Google to fund education/training programs for women and minorities”
the entire point was to not discriminate based on race or gender, what he accuses google of doing now, and you literally just proposed exactly that.
Some of the comments here are pretty entertaining. You have folks who really want to defend his right to speak out and the courage it took to do so, even knowing the outcome probably wasn’t going to be favorable for his career. Here is my bottom line, the price to speak your mind can be very expensive, no matter how right you think you are.
I worked for a Fortune 25 company for almost 20 years. I was nearly always the guy to speak up against perceived injustices within the organization and was loved and respected by my peers for it. Many a time I had colleagues come up after meetings and thank me for speaking up and telling me I was saying exactly what they wanted to say. Finally, it dawned on me that I was letting everyone else off the hook too easily by representing THEIR righteous indignation while I was the one getting the bad reputation from management.
I lasted almost 20 years because I backed up what I said and consistently delivered results. There was a time in the organization when management actually did appreciate well thought out candor but, like everything else, things change, people move on and new management is not nearly as thick-skinned. I got nailed as part of a reorganization and there was no lifeline in the water for me. Fortunately, I was FI and I was ready to move on but another 5 years would have meant a lot to my retirement and pension and that was really the only thing I was holding out for and the only thing I really missed out on.
Bottom line, Sam is correct. Companies have all the advantages, particularly in right to work states, and just looking cross-eyed one day at someone can get you fired with ease and no consequences for the company. Believe me, I know this all too well because it happened to my wife two years later in the same company. We hired a lawyer because her boss was threatened that she was doing such a good job that he was afraid someone might figure out she was better at his job than he was. Which in fact was what people were starting to say. Our lawyer said we had no case unless we had hard proof of discrimination. She negotiated a decent package and moved on. If you aren’t prepared for a similar fate, you have no choice but to watch your step, and your tongue and even then, it might not be enough because you simply can’t control what other people think ;)
Well said, and thank you for commenting based on your nearly 20 years in Corporate America. I have a feeling that if I was to do a poll by age on whether what James did was right/smart/courageous or not, younger readers will vote more in favor and older readers would vote less in favor.
The good thing about being young is that you don’t know what you don’t know. And the GREAT thing about being young is that if you are wise, you’ll heed the advice of those who’ve been there to avoid similar land mines.
But the best way to learn is to get crushed – the hard way. Verbal and written advice can only go so far.
You’ll love HR’s parting comments to me on my way out the door. They said my biggest mistake was that I “outlived all of my supporters!”
Hey Sam, asians have that “positive” stereotype of being intelligent so we’re treated differently than other ethnicities. Although that same stereotype backfires on us in anything relating to physical prowess since people automatically assume it’s one or the other. Either you’re smart and a nerd. Or you’re a dumb jock. I think I’d be fooling myself if I didn’t think this smart Asian stereotype hasn’t benefited me any. At the very least it hasn’t done me any harm. I’d say at this point I kinda say and do what I want at my work. Not that I’m fully FIRE, but I could be if I wanted to be. Doesn’t mean I’m mean to people. I just don’t have to kiss butt or spend my days brown nosing. I agree with you that for the majority of people out there, it’s best to keep your head down and have some FU money before you do anything too rash. I mean, even with a lot of money I don’t suggest anyone intentionally burn bridges. There’s just zero upside to doing that.
I would comment but I’m concerned my employer might see it.
Agree with Sam that going the internal route first in a respectful manner is a smarter way to proceed if there are issues. We ultimately choose our employers when we sign an offer letter and can’t expect to keep our jobs if we rustle too many feathers and draw outside attention especially early on. It’s also true what you said about how there’s always so much more noise and complaints about diversity and such in higher paying jobs.
During the revolutionary war you would have went for the British….
Not a bad insult, but missing the point.
If you are James Damore, and have already decided to join the Brits (Google) for the money and prestige, you don’t go on a solo suicide mission writing a detailed report about how the Brits are wrong in their thinking. Instead, you need to carefully plan by gathering internal support first, and then try to initiate the coup.
But, martyrs are revered for a reason. So I see the appeal to watch other people blow themselves up. But whenever it’s time to blow yourself up, it’s always a little bit harder for some reason, if you are smart.
Even if James is right, he loses because he lost his job and his blackballed in Silicon Valley now. That could literally mean millions of dollars in lost Wealth over his career. I want readers here at to think smarter and be more calculated before they do things.
What are some things that you are disgruntled with at your job and how do you plan to stand up against them? I would like Financial Samurai to be a platform for future manifestoes if you’re interested in writing one about your company.
With a feature image of the Borg, it seems to me to be a satire against the British (or Google in this case) mixed with some practical advice.
You’re the first one to point out some of the satire in this post. Well done. I do wonder sometimes whether readers can parse through the layers I sometimes create. The objective is to get people to think and sometimes ask themselves, “wait a minute..”
Yeah, minority numbers in tech are pretty bad. Also wish tech companies would seperate Asia (India) from Asia (other).
Why? What kind of difference does it make?
It makes a huge difference. If the bulk of the Asia number is coming from one country in Asia, that one country should have its own category. It’s unfair to what I labeled Asia (other) because we don’t know their numbers since it’s masked by India. I want to know the percentage of the Asia number not from India.
Great post – I think the guy is a total idiot to be honest (I am a 29 year old, straight, white male who earns a very modest salary – just over 25000$ before tax).
I work for a large, non profit conservation charity in the UK – which, as you would imagine is pretty left leaning, liberal and frankly, a little touchy-feely for myself.
That said whilst I was very frustrated a year ago I have finally come to the realisation that I am paid to: turn up on time, fulfil my objectives set by my manager and cover shifts for my colleagues when they are on holiday – whether I want to or not!!
A lot of “millennials” – a term I loath but by birth am grouped into – seem to think that there personal views/opinions hold weight – they don’t, you are simply being paid to do a role.
Realizing I needed to keep my opinions to myself and that I was wholly replaceable was one of the smartest things I have wised up to in my 20s!
Enjoying the blog, keep it up.
What I find so foolish about this is just the complete lack of self-awareness that he is absolutely in the top 5% (or higher) of income earners with nothing but a bright future ahead of him. Why rock the boat, unless you are financially independent. These jobs, by definition, are incredibly rare.
I also fall into that camp. Male, working in a predominately male industry (finance), earning well above the median. Probably also like James, my job is very flexible. While I’m not financially independent yet (I expect to be in the next 5-10 years), I’ve debated how early I’ll actually leave the workforce. With a flexible job that you enjoy and high pay, being retired early doesn’t have the same allure.
James would be better off just recognizing how lucky he is and should have just conformed enough to keep his job. Not everyone’s opinion about everything needs to be shared.
Sam, James is getting offers left and right for employment (Gab, Wikileaks). He will have no problem getting money flowing to him.
He clearly knew what he was getting into, and planned accordingly (He had interviews with major figures Jordan Peterson and Stefan Molyneux lined up right after he was let go).
Not everyone wants to step into the limelight, or at least not yet.
Yes, it is just money. But, this whole situation only highlights the need to be financially independent: No one can fire you and you can more freely say what you want (you still may receive threats from Leftist antifa and such though).
What do you think Sam: Make your money first, and speak more freely later? Sounds like a better option for many.
Sounds good. His calculations could pay off big. Maybe he’s always wanted the spotlight and knew he could win a lawsuit or knew he had some other offers lined up. Do you know how much Gab and Wikileaks is offering? Do you think they are comparable companies in pay, benefits, to Google?
“But, this whole situation only highlights the need to be financially independent: No one can fire you and you can more freely say what you want.”
I hope I made this point clearly in my post with point #6 and my conclusion.
How about you Marco? Are you willing to speak “the truth” about your company or rustle some feathers for the sake of the truth? I really would love to read some of your viewpoints.
I assume, now with the spotlight, he will start his own project. He says in the video that he cares more about his time then being a CEO who has money but no time (as you’ve spoken to). The video: https://youtu.be/TN1vEfqHGro
I don’t work for a self declared SJW organization and I have no (real) complaints about it. I speak up in little ways but no, not like James. I keep work and politics separate, as I believe most people should.
Yes, many such as myself speak online anonymously as we don’t want to be harassed by antifa and other radical leftists who call anyone to the right of Marx a Nazi or Hitler and try to destroy their reputation and threaten family members.
Sam says: “saying the reason why women and some minorities aren’t more represented at his firm is due to biological differences. True or false, that’s offensive to the women and minorities who made it to Google.”
Sam, your Leftist bias is showing. Why should we as a society not speak the truth and try to make everyone better, instead of playing the emperor has no clothes and continue to lie and live in a fantasy world?
The truth is: men and women are different. Different races are biologically different. The sooner we work with reality, the sooner we can start addressing real world problems.
Check out the post. Not sure if people realize this, but the truth is James was fired. So if one of the main points of financial independence is to have enough money to be financially independent, getting fired and then blackballed by many left leaning tech companies is not conducive to financial independence.
Everybody is free to say whatever they want. The liberatarian aspect of folks demonstrating free speech and accepting the consequences is cool because everything is rational at the end of the day. James is another anecdote as to why there might be much more wealth out there than we know, b/c it’s irrational to risk getting fired if you don’t have money.
I’d love for you to publish a post on here pointing out the flaws of your company and such. FS can be the repository of disgruntled employee manifestos! I think it would be fun!
The issue with your blog post is that all of your conclusions follow from the base assumption that FI should be the only thing that factors into making a decision. I get that this is an FI site, but you seem to be advocating that only people with FI should ever take a risk in making a change where they work. How else should we interpret comments like 1) If you are not financially independent, try not to offend anybody or 2) Conform or Perish?
I look forward to your next post citing the stupidity of Enron whistle blower Sherron Watkins who destroyed the value of her Enron stock holdings by reporting financial irregularities at the company!
Check out point number six. You’ve got to do so in a tactful manner. Do you not agree? What is your advice and what is your background? It would be great if you could share so I have a better idea of where you’re coming from.
You’re free to interpret my advice however you wish and do whatever you wish at work. The best advice is learned through doing.
I work in finance and certainly a similar fate would befall me if I spoke out about something and brought negative attention to the company I work for. Yes, I agree you should be tactful and respectful when you are doing it (although apparently the Google guy was too).
My advice is that if you want to effect change at your company, be prepared to lose your job. This is subtly, but importantly different than my summary of your points 1 and 2, which is “keep quiet and conform if you are not FI because that job is more important than any change you are advocating.”
Marco, would love to hear you speak out about your company! What are some of the things you don’t agree with? Where do you work Speak the truth.
“Different races are biologically different.”
Now that is a statement I don’t understand. Do we not all have two eyes, one brain (wish we used it more), and a heart (wish we used it all the time)?
Or do you think that the degrees of melanin in our skin make us that much different?
From my experience, I’ve discovered that people are a sum of their experiences and their environment. And though outwardly they may look worlds apart, inwardly they share the same set of emotions.
Your comment discounts the effects environment has on thought process and behavior.
Having done extensive business in Asia, there is no doubt that while all people harbor similar desires (life, happiness, certain level of material luxury) culture and societal norms affect how we all go about achieving them. It is not as easy as just acknowledge we all can feel happy or sad or mad or Whatever.
Hi ccjarider I did consider environmental in the last paragraph of my original comment. I do realise that a person raised in a rural setting (and I mean no water, no electricity, raising your own food) thinks differently to a person in an urban environment. I come across it all the time. But guess what, they adapt their thinking to the urban way quite quickly.
But they feel the same set of emotions. Strip away, cultural/societal norms, our skin, our hair and eye colour and we’re all the same underneath. Races are not biologically different as Marco contends. Race is only a pigment of the imagination :)
Lesson #7: Make sure that whatever you do or say at work, it doesn’t result in the company CEO having to cancel his family vacation to fix the mess you’ve left behind.
I’m a 43 year old woman who’s been working in a technical field for over 20 years. 13% are woman in my field. I actually read James Damore’s manifesto, and here are my thoughts:
1) I understand the anger that white men feel over these “diversity policies”. He makes some fair points. However these policies are put in place to protect folks who don’t fit into the “good ole boys” club. Not all men behave this way but it’s a deeply demoralizing place to be when you work with folks like this and don’t have a chance to be accepted in your workplace no matter how hard you work and the quality of the work you do. I doubt most Caucasian men have experienced this so they don’t get it. Information transfer and business relationships are key in a well-oiled workplace machine no matter what the job. Unfortunately it’s just a few bad apples that promote this unhealthy work culture. Fortunately, and over the course of my career, less of these bad apples exist. Actually in my current work group, there are none. I don’t know what Google is like.
2) I sense James Damore hasn’t met a lot of woman? He appears to be describing only one type. But let’s just say if he is heterosexual, he may have ruined all possibility of scoring a date with any woman again.
3) I laughed a little when he said women are more neurotic. Perhaps, don’t know if there’s been a study published on that. However men are more likely to assume their abilities are far greater than they are, and are more likely to take uncalculated risks that gets organizations into deep trouble. If you’re foolish enough to believe stereotypes then this one is for you: women are crazy and men are stupid.
Let’s say James made the claim that women are more neurotic, which I don’t think so. I believe he meant “women are statistically more likely to be neurotic” due to the wonderful hormonal cocktails constantly present and changing in female body — but ok, let’s assume he said women are more neurotic.
My question is, why is being neurotic a bad thing at all? It is a trait that has its pros and cons. Being in tune with one’s mood is actually a very good thing, and being able to express one’s feelings in emotional ways is great to release stress.
I am a women, and I love myself some craziness.
Well good for you and your love of craziness!
To answer your question, according to Damore’s manifesto, with respect to Neuroticism (higher anxiety, lower stress tolerance):
“This may contribute to the higher levels of anxiety women report on Googlegeist and to the lower number of women in high stress jobs.”
Do you agree with his “biological” assessment of why less women are in high stress jobs?
I think it is biological basis and the resulting statistical significant different is certainly a contributing factor. But how much, how deterministic, obviously that is up to debate and to be found out.
My work used to be in mathematics and applied physics, and now I am in engineering. Hard core science is stressful, and it is not friendly (very harsh actually) to women, especially those who are in their prime reproductive age, period. Engineering work to me is a piece of cake compared to frontier research work.
If you disagree with Damore’s note that fewer women are in high-stress jobs due to biological differences with men, then to what do you attribute the difference to?
He is calling out neuroticism as the biological difference. I’m saying it’s not neuroticism, it’s cultural.
Years ago, a lot of women didn’t pursue STEM careers because it wasn’t culturally acceptable to do so. How many men were willing to date a woman pursuing a career as an engineer, scientist, mathematician, or programmer in the 70s and 80s? Growing up I remember a number of girls, including myself, who excelled at math. But what were their realistic options? “Nerdy” careers were still men’s careers back then, and who’d want to subject themselves to the cultural backlash of what was always considered male territory! It didn’t help that teachers and parents told girls that they weren’t supposed to be good at math. It was more acceptable to be a math/science teacher or nurse. The cultural “ideal” for a woman was to be pretty and nurturing, not good at math.
Having said that, I think culturally we’ve been very gradually shifting over the last couple of decades and analytically gifted women don’t need to apologize for their abilities. So even though it’s not taboo for a woman to pursue a STEM career today, change is happening gradually so a STEM workplace isn’t going to fill with women as quickly as they graduate. We still don’t graduate as many STEM women as men, and I don’t expect it will ever be balanced. So there’s no reason to expect that Google, or any other techie company, should balance their workforce too.
I do believe men and women can sometimes tackle complex problems differently, communicate differently, and prioritize differently. There’s considerable overlap in the way we think and execute tasks too, but regardless, a disciplined approach to problem solving is what it takes to succeed in STEM in the end. This is a quality both men and women can possess. Regardless of what naysayers think, female STEMers are an asset just like their male counterparts. I don’t know James Damore but, despite his obvious intelligence, he doesn’t sound like he’s had much life experience from the content of what he’s written. For what it’s worth, I know a lot of right-leaning men who are amenable to having female counterparts so this isn’t a political issue as some would like to believe (and are trying to convince you to believe).
As far as higher stress jobs (leadership positions as James Damore alludes to), these are harder to pursue if you’d like to settle down eventually. And the fact of the matter is, a lot of women not only feel the “biological clock” pressure before kids, but also their priorities shift when they become mothers. This has nothing to do with their intellectual capabilities. My husband told me that he never considered how his career would shift once he became a parent, but I certainly did. I’ll admit I’ve curtailed my career goals for this reason alone. No regrets either, my husband has a very demanding job and having one parent with a sometimes-stressful-but-not-as-demanding job has brought some sanity into our lives as I’m the primary caregiver to our kids when they’re not in school. Had my husband had a less demanding job than mine, or I was the breadwinner, I’d push my career as far as it could go. Obviously not every woman thinks this way and the population of women who are willing to overlook the personal/family impact is increasing.
Second to this “My husband told me that he never considered how his career would shift once he became a parent, but I certainly did. I’ll admit I’ve curtailed my career goals for this reason alone. ”
I made similar career move when the new parental role started. In my case however, the fundamental biological fact that I am the woman (and all the functionalities that come with being a female) has a lot to do with that decision.
I am the one who could BF the baby, I am the one who learnt and acted on our child’s needs sooner, and many more things that just came to me more naturally because I grew the child for 9 months so I have that bond and connection already strongly-formed! These are head advantages for me to be the primary caregiver given my biological features.
Can a dad be trained to be a primary caregiver? Sure! But it is likely a longer learning curve and more inconveniences comparatively.
As our child grows older, I think the primary caregiver role can be shifted to a more even split between husband and wife since the female biological features play a diminishing role in the child’s needs, eg. child is weaned, dad has clocked enough time to pick up signals as well as mom, etc.
I agree about the primary caregiver dynamic. I’m doing my best to be and equal provider to my child, but it is hard because I don’t have the secret weapon of being able to breast-feed to calm him down or put him to sleep. A baby seems to naturally gravitate closer to them other than to the father in the beginning because of those nine months and biological features.
And while these biological features come handy when in a caregiver position, they also bring inconveniences (eg. pumping breastmilk multiple times a day at work is a tremendous extra work load) and add stress (eg. keeping one’s cool when pregnant in stressful work situations adds extra stress) when in a stressful job position.
I think it is highly plausible that there is some contribution to the behavioral patterns and the resulting gender gap in tech fields due to biological differences. While it is very unscientific of me to quote myself as an anecdotal data point, I myself made the very career downshift because of my gender and the functionalities/responsibilities being in that gender entails.
Wow – interesting points.
So *if* a child naturally gravitates to the mother for a greater share of care and the mother is *equiped* to provide that care then could we also assume that men ought to have a makeup that *provides* for the child or family in other ways?
“I laughed a little when he said women are more neurotic. Perhaps, don’t know if there’s been a study published on that. ”
Has anyone even bothered to google it? (oh, the irony) lets take the highest ranked hit on “gender differences in neuroticism” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2031866/
In college and adult samples, women score higher then men on the Five Factor Model (FFM) personality traits of Neuroticism and Agreeableness. The present study assessed the extent to which these gender differences held in a sample of 486 older adults, ranging in age from 65-98 (M = 75, SD = 6.5), using the NEO-Five Factor Inventory. Mean and Covariance Structure models testing gender differences at the level of latent traits revealed higher levels of Neuroticism (d = .52) and Agreeableness (d = .35) in older women than older men. The consistency of these findings with prior work in younger samples attests to the stability of gender differentiation on Neuroticism and Agreeableness across the lifespan. Gender differences on these traits should be considered in personality research among older, as well as middle age and younger adults.
Maybe its been discredited in other papers, but to say that he is just pulling this out of thin air? huh? Maybe he is misapplying the findings of this paper. Fine, then counter argue him.
Point #2 – guy claims women on average have neurotic tendencies. later, women stay home from working at Google due to feeling “uncomfortable” and CEO says people are feeling “hurt”. hmmm, said people are kinda acting neurotic, seemingly confirming this. could it be an “inconvenient truth?”
Point #3 – whether this neurotic thing is actually true or not isn’t the real issue. Its that in a place like Google, which I would think prides itself on the scientific method, doesn’t have the gumption to address this like any other issue and debate it on its merits is the real issue. If the guy is wrong, fine, present evidence. Fire him for daring to have a difference of opinion because you are “offended”? = Corporate fascism.
Finally, maybe the guy is already FI and doesn’t need to put up with their BS anymore.
It was interesting to hear that many women did not show up to work the next day after what James wrote. And it does seem like a double standard when the CEO says, “All of your voices and opinions matter… and I want to hear them.” He may have forgotten to also say, “and I want to hear them before I decide whether to fire you or not.”
Non-FI folks beware! Everybody will encourage you to stand up to watch you burn for them. But nobody is willing to stand up for themselves, unless they are clueless about the way the world works.
So what’s your point? You clearly have it all figured out. Have the women in your life told you this?
@whoanelly, the sarcastic and combative reply you provide is actually making supporterofJamesD’s point. Very emotional.
Sorry I didn’t mean to offend. :)
Luckily I’m still employed.
Have a nice day.
You can uncross your arms, now. :)
Regarding #5 at least…
About a decade ago I was fired from my full-time 9-to-5 job when word got out in the company that I was an Atheist. They tried to bury my termination behind some obscure “violation of company policy” statement. In reality, a lot of ignorant workers were “uncomfortable” working in the close company of a “sinner” and that was that.
Fortunately by that time I was financially independent anyway, and not working there another day (in the company of morons) was more of a relief than anything else.
Sorry to hear about this prejudice against you. I’m glad you were already financially independent when they decided to push you out. Did they offer any type of severance package?
Yours is an example where if you are let’s say 28 years old or still trying to accumulate your financial nut, it is probably best not to step on a soapbox or write a 3000 word report internally to argue why God does not exist.
Equality is the lie the Clintons repeat non-stop.
Have you noticed the asian youtubers have entirely stopped chanting equality? What big asian movies haven’t removed the lead asian actor in favor of white actresses and actors. Ghost in a shell, matt damon’s great wall, death note on netflix. And this trend will only continue as it has been. Equality only applies to females and blacks. Equality does not apply to asians.
These days, since you’re in the area look up the movement by tech leaders lobbying to ban asian real estate investments in california, or impose harsh measures if they can’t. Because spoiled asian kids don’t help the giant tech companies at all. But these same 100 tech companies are dying to lobby for indian masters and phd who they can recruit by the 1000s as replacement drones and pay less than an american c.s. graduate. The Democrat party’s equality is very selective in case you haven’t noticed. It doesn’t apply to all races.
You make some good points. At 6% of the US population, why do you think Asians are not considered minorities?
This is a complicated question I’ve done a lot of research on and I just wanted to hear your opinion.
Do you think there are biological differences between races in terms of work ethic, intelligence, demeanor, and so forth?
I think a lot of Asian immigrants after the 1960s Word from wealthier, and more educated families who could afford to come to the United States. What do you think?
One of the main reasons why I decided to just work for myself is because I’m just so tired of all the politics at work. There’s just so much inefficiency that drives a person who really values his time crazy.
Interesting comments around Asians as minorities.
I hold personally there is negligible differences in ones race or gender/sexual orientation, demeanor when talking about nature, genes, natural selection and who can develop what competencies.
When talking about nurture or environmental factors. May I suggest Asian family values and work ethics (Confucius type value systems or influences) have a positive impact on individual Asians desire to achieve. Perhaps in typically western cultures this may be called a ‘Protestant work ethic’.
When talking equality a missing ingredient appears to be positive cultures or environments that cause people to succeed more than others.
Asians perhaps are not considered a minority in America because they tend to succeed?
Just my observation
***I live in Australia and am distanced from the American discussion on equality.
You’ve brought up some great points and overall I agree with your message. Do what you can afford to do. Ultimately, James was being true to himself. I’m very interested in seeing what path he follows next because he is undoubtedly talented. Maybe he’ll start a blog?
Yes, we should admire James for being true to himself. And I think rationally, he probably does have some money tucked away to survive a long transition.
I think it would be great if he started a blog. I’d read it. It’s good to look at different viewpoints. From the interviews he has given, he comes across as a normal guy.
I have read parts of this guys manifesto. He is a smart man.
I would have presumed that he presumed publishing his manifesto would have cost him his job. He must have saw that coming?
Ah, but as I’m sure Sam would agree, “Academic Intelligence” is not the same as “Social Intelligence”. Think of Benedict Cumberbach in “Sherlock.”
Brilliant mind. A* to everyone.
Sorry Samurai, but some of this is pretty bad advice that only makes sense because of the author’s message. If this “manefesto” were written from a woman’s perspective and wasn’t pointing out discrimination within a large organization, would you still be pushing points 1, 2, 5, and 6?
Definitely. The results are the same. There’s huge risk in being a free-thinker without a plan. But she may have more help from the media.
So your advice is to just stay silent no matter if what is going on violates your own moral boundaries? Do you draw the line if the corp you are working for violates fiduciary boundaries? Legal boundaries? Where’s the line, or is there not line if you are not FI and you are being paid?
Of course note. See point #6. If you don’t agree with your managers or what the company stands for, leave. And if you’ve been mistreated, fight back. Just know there are consequences and you have to do so smartly.
Most people work because they need to. And if you need money to survive, then you are going to have to put up with some things you don’t agree with until you have options.
What do you recommend?
Of course be prepared for consequences, but the author of the manifesto stood up for something he believed in. He may be wrong or misguided, but if he wanted to initiate a change, something like this is a good way to do it. He definitely increased attention on his viewpoint. Google is a behemoth, and it is worth it to fight back against leaders in a space to effect broader awareness of issues and change in my view. If everyone becomes afraid to stand up for what they believe in in the workplace because they are not FI, it will be a sad day for America and its workforce.
I think the right message is that you should stand up for what you believe in, but be prepared to be fired if you bring negative attention/publicity to your employer. If I were Google, I would fire him too, regardless of my view about his comments.
It’s actually not the right way to do it because he lost his job, unless he didn’t need his job and wanted to be famous or wanted to potentially win a lawsuit or a whistleblowing lawsuit.
The right way to do it is to have conversations with the powers that be at Google and create some internal support FIRST. Then after you get some internal support, then you can be more daring. But if you are 28, only have 4 years of work experience, don’t have support in numbers or at least from more powerful people, you get left out in the cold.
From his latest interview on Bloomberg, “no one high up ever came to me and said, ‘No, don’t do this,’ even though there were many people who looked at it,” Damore said. “It was only after it got viral that upper management started shaming me and eventually firing me.”
“There was a concerted effort among upper management to have a very clear signal that what I did was harmful and wrong and didn’t stand for Google,” Damore said. “It would be career suicide for any executives or directors to support me.”
NOBODY at Google will side w/ James now b/c it’s all about reputation and MONEY.
People can disagree with whatever thing that triggers them all they want. Just do so wisely.
Not sure how your conclusion is different from my conclusion. Out of curiosity, are you thinking of writing your own manifesto? If so, I’d love to read it and publish it here!
I would publish a manifesto, but I would probably be fired, and I really need the job!
BTW – do you really think that there is structural discrimination in the NBA against Asians or against men in teaching? While 75% of K-12 teachers are women, 75% of professors are men.
I agree with your points Sam. When you are working for a company you have to fall in line or else risk being terminated. Even if you are financially free, it’s still not a good idea to be spouting whatever comes to mind. If you want a job in the future it’s best to still be employable. My advice is to also limit what you post on social media.
Read through the report. Only for those on the left does saying this like “Stop restricting programs and classes to certain genders or races” mean you are sexist and racist, when h’e’s literally saying not to be racist or sexist. Also from listening to his interview, he says he didn’t leak this, he submitted it as a suggestion like what is normal at another company.
If there is merit ad they did fire him for being a whistleblower, then he’s in for a big payday. He wasn’t fired for performance, he was fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes”, even though all of what he wrote is factually correct and within the standard scientific discourse.
Again, it doesn’t matter what you are I think, or what He thinks.
He could’ve written about saving baby elephants from hunters, but if the answer pisses off a large percentage of his colleagues, and the media, it’s game over.
The key is to be patient, just like a long-term investor.
In most cases. people that work as employee work for money. They don’t work because they love what they are doing. Within themselves, they can feel that they are not fulfil. To worsen it, this is the secret they can’t voice out to their employers. Otherwise, they should be prepared to be showed the way out as you clearly pointed out in this article.
However, at a stage in life, one may need to take the plunge. Nonetheless, only few are bold enough to take this courageous step. “How can I leave certainty for uncertainty?”, some will argue. But is there any job security nowadays? This is food for thought!
Let me start by saying this guy is an idiot (or genius depending on how the lawsuit and potential job with wikileaks turns out) for writing this letter. What is funny though is he is either correct in his assessment that women tend to make different choices than men or google (who actually has a diversity department) is actually a sexist/racist company.
I wish people would stop saying 50% of the population is women therefore 50% of the people at google (or any company) should be women. If less than 50% of the workers are women than this company must be sexist. The issue is there just aren’t a lot of women that go into the coding, engineering, math and science. My daughter will be getting a strong push from me to pursue a degree in technology but it will of course ultimately be her choice.
Out of 12 engineers at my company only 1 is female. Only 8% instead of 50%. But in the last two years we have given offers to 100% of the female engineers that interviewed with us. Two.
Excellent points, Grant. It’s similar in my own field of policing. When I tell women my department is hiring, they often laugh. My response is serious though.
Make the application and you go straight to the front of the line. Every Department NEEDS female cops, but the career field is far from saturated with women. The opportunity is there.
He could be a genius, and given the percentage skew at your company, you might be seeing a multimillion dollar play by play handbook you can follow!
I can’t decide if James Damore is courageous for voicing his unorthodox opinions or foolish for going against the herd. Either way, I hope he and other people who think like him have learned their lesson. We live in a country of free speech. But it’s not very wise to let it be your shackles. Welcome to the real world!
What a strange missive Sam! Your points are mostly fair as Google can indeed decide to support their monolithic environment by silencing free speech if they want to. However, to advise people to just shut up in the face of discrimination– IF there is any, is unjustified and unwarranted. As a society we would not advance by much if that were the guidance we gave our citizens. Surely you would not do so if the shoe were on the other foot, correct?
Anyway, love the vast majority of your articles and always appreciate your thoughtful manner.
Resistance is futile. So long as you are working for someone else you have to conform by their rules.
I’m all for free speech, but the way people are doing so these days shows a low level of emotional intelligence. The world has changed. We must be politically correct in everything or else face the wrath of Zeus!
The sooner you reach financial independence, the sooner you can write your manifesto. Doing so 4 years into your work career is stupid.
What large, left leaning tech company will hire him now? The media will Skewer the company who does and shame it to its financial detriment.
Not sure about the media comment. Media is fickle and has the attention span of a shrew. This story ran it’s course and he can go work somewhere else without anyone ever knowing.
Also – it would be nice of more company leaders grew backbones and fought back against media bias. Won’t happen, I know – per all the reasons you site in your articulate article. I’m just wishin.
The bigger the company, the week of the backbone because the more money is at stake. People have to realize that at the end of the day, it’s all about money, money, money, and reputation.
If The country is divided in political ideology or various viewpoints, then the leader cannot speak out or speak up for fear of losing half of their profits.
Only the people who have forsaken money, prestige, fame, whatever can truly just say whatever the hell they want and don’t care.
I absolutely LOVE it when you tell it like it is, Sam! Kudos! :)
Does it at least equal 20X your gross annual income? If not, then shut up.
Bawahahahaha made my day. James you dun goofed. Women and minorities are not your frustration scapegoats. I think he was jaded as well and that explains his total lack of awareness. He will have a lot of rough time trying to find work because there’s a hoard of other developers who doesn’t want to work with him.
Yes tech companies lean left. My husband works at Google and he’s more left than I am. He read the entire manifesto to me as well as the most famous reply to that manifesto over dinner (I tried to get him to stop…not romantic…honey..)
This is so true. During the election, some people in my firm had…strong opinions about the candidates. I had my own opinions, but I pretty successfully avoided getting baited to discuss those opinions at all. It’s just safer that way. Why accidentally annoy a senior partner by stating my opinion? I’ll never change their mind, and I risk getting on someone’s bad side. Totally not worth it.
Ugh. Mixing political discussions with coworkers or customers is the worst. If ever there’s a perfect opportunity to shut up about your personal opinion, that’s the one.
My employer (Tableau Software) held our annual customer conference in Austin TX last year, and election night was right smack in the middle of that week. Horrible timing. We had thousands of customers of varying political leanings all brought together in one place, during a period of time where different political opinions were on high display. Without making any judgements in either direction, I’ll opine that most of our employees, as well as most of our customers, were unpleasantly surprised by the outcome of the election. But as bad as they felt, how awkward for the “minority” in the crowd who were pleased with the winner? They were suddenly feeling like isolated right-leaning outcasts in a sea of left-leaners. Absolutely not the environment we wanted for our event. Lesson learned – never hold an event that conflicts with a major election event.
Fun side fact: you may remember seeing “news” about anti-Trump protestors being bussed into Austin that night. (The story went viral after Trump picked up on it and tweeted it.)
Nope, not protestors. That was us. We had shuttle busses running our customers from the convention center over to another venue for a party that night.
I work in tech and half my team is female, and they are just as capable as anyone else.
This guy is an idiot because he should have known how the media will lie and spin this against him. He was literally arguing for google to stop discriminating on the basis of sex, and to enact policies that would make it more attractive for women to want to work at, but just to end gender based hiring policies. That makes him a nazi, somehow.
Has anyone actually read the manifesto, because all the “quotes” I’m seeing from it are not actually in there.
Anyway he may have a case for being a whistleblower since Google may be violating the EEOC
Yes, the media loves to spin things. And unfortunately, the more negative the spin, the higher the viewership. The media loved the financial collapse. Unfortunately, the media industry also got hollowed out as well.
In work environments, popularity is a strong contributor to one’s success. An otherwise unimpressive employee (measured by raw skills / work throughput / etc.) can still survive and flourish if popular enough. And conversely, an unpopular employee (for whatever reason – poor social skills, voicing unpopular opinions, etc.) can still flourish if the skills and throughput are sufficiently high.
You can have low popularity and high skills, *so long as the threshold for either isn’t crossed.*
You can have low skills and high popularity, *so long as the threshold for either isn’t crossed.*
In Mr. Googler’s case here, he (presumably) had very high skills, but made the mistake of crossing the threshold for popularity – in spectacular fashion.
Lesson in this case – don’t overestimate the ability of your skills being able to compensate for a popularity failure.
I hope people read the damn manifesto, its pretty rationally written. The original also includes graphs and links to papers, which your link doesnt. A lot of the media and even your article only point to the “hot button” keywords.
I am a woman who has a child, and I have seen in real life how my need for power, validation, career ladder climbing etc has dropped in priority after having a baby, and I value my health, time off and family a lot more. I struggled with trying to understand how I was feeling for a year.
I also understand that not every woman is like me, and I agree with him that we should treat people as individuals and not as part of a “tribe”.
Good on ya, DI1K.
It actually doesn’t matter what he thinks or what I think. Because he pissed people off, he’s now unemployed. It’s that simple. My goal as a personal finance blogger is to try and look at the situation objectively, and reach some helpful conclusions so that other 28-year-old, disgruntled employees go about their unhappiness in a less financial harmful way.
We live in a really sensitive society now. It’s best to recognize to survive the matrix.
Unfortunately this is very true!
Google had to fire him even if he was right on the whole line and a perfect employee. And this is sad.
The probability of that document to go viral was actually pretty low, I think he has been very unlucky. And I would have never anticipated so much distortion by the media.
“Nobody fights about lack of diversity in modest paying jobs.” So true if you think about different industries with a disproportionate number of men or women. For example, I don’t recall seeing any outrage about the lack of men teaching K – 12 even though women make up ~75% of all teachers. Maybe I just missed it.
Very interesting. I’ve honestly never taken the time to think about that but it’s a very good point to at least bring up and consider.
I wonder if maybe men don’t want certain type of jobs? On the flip side, perhaps less women also want certain types of jobs. I’ve read that there are vastly more men in STEM college programs than women. So maybe women are under-represented in certain parts of the workforce intentionally because they have less interest?
They have less interest because they are taught that way and the path of least resistance is peer/social approval as well as being nice. Americans are way too focused on gender and skin color still, rather than independent competence and talent.
I like how men will say, “but he’s backing up his arguments with facts!!!” Eugenicists backed up their arguments with “facts” that soon became falsehoods. Ask any male, female, black, white, Latino, Asian who is also an expert in biology from a reputable educational institution and they will clear up the so-called “facts” in the manifesto.
It’s obvious they guy got picked on as a kid (likely by women too) and all the money and job success he had was never enough. To people like that I say, get out, socialize with a different crowd, move to a different career, move to a totally different state, volunteer in a high need social service, join a place of worship. Do something. When you think the world is only out to get you, you gotta change how you see the world and how lucky you truly have it.
Also, regarding men in education… Schools DEFINITELY want male teachers. In a coed school overrepresented by female teachers, an equally qualified male teacher is more likely to get a job because schools know the importance of having a representative staff. In fact, programs like Teach For America and local Teaching Fellows programs love to have male applicants as they usually get mostly women. The only time I could see a male figure losing out on a job is as a principal/head of an all girls school…just like you could see a male head/principal preferred at an all boys school. But if you’re male and interested in teaching, get out there and apply, get certified, whatever! Schools, especially elementary, can always use more qualified male teachers.
I believe you are inserting all of your own biases in there: “It’s obvious they guy got picked on as a kid (likely by women too) and all the money and job success he had was never enough.” There’s no evidence for any of that.
“When you think the world is only out to get you, “…. and where did he say that? This is the problem with many people is you read what you want to read and not actually what’s written.
Go watch his interview on Youtube with Jordan Peterson. According to him, he was in the top 3% of google employees and promoted regularly, and he had never had anything negative on his employee file.
He is claiming is still believes in Google and wanted to make the workplace better, through making the company better. Not by discriminating in hiring practices.
Seriously, did you even read what he wrote?
With ya, Steve.
Good to know schools are looking for male teachers. But where is the uproar like the constant uproar in tech?
For some reason, people understand that more women are teachers and more men are cops because women (in general) gravitate towards teaching and men towards policing. This simple concept suddenly no longer exists when the jobs pay $200K/year. Suddenly the lack of women is sexism.
If you write that in your manifesto Grant, you will get skewered by the media. Be careful! :)
I see that your conclusions on the letter are your own projections and not what the guy wrote. I did’t sense any bad intentions, hate or discrimination in his letter.
Meh. He’s a software engineer from Googs. He’ll live. I’ve been recruited several times by them (and am a “minority”), and they put you through the ringer before they hire you, because, as they say, they are hiring you for several positions within the company (and you move around quite a bit once you’re there). There is such a shortage of great engineers in general (don’t get me wrong; there are a lot of engineers, but they are usually the resumes that slosh around that no one is interested in), that they usually also do come around again every once in a while if you make the cut/ if they’re interested (every few months or so, you’ll hear from them). If he has the chops to be hired by them, he won’t be wanting for a job; he has a great skill set. I also have quite a few friends who’ve worked there, and hated it (just didn’t enjoy the culture; this is particularly so the older they join aka the Grayglers lol), so they moved to startups (and are happier there). Nothing wrong with that. A lot of really smart people (esp those who spent the bulk of their lives in academia) lack emotional intelligence. Some of the smartest CS people I know checked out of the job market entirely and just started their own thing. Maybe he’ll be one of them. He’ll figure it out.
Sam nicely said. I don’t understand why people feel the need to write manifestos and send them out. So they somehow think it will help their career? There is no good justification for this stupidity.
Luckily it allows for a natural selection. Removing these people from the masses.
Hey, what’s wrong with writing Manifesto’s? I do it every week! :)
Why would you want to remove people who challenge status quo from the masses? Does this country really need more “group think”?
Dads Dollars debts,
Hey I think the need is called the fight or flight response. Some people fight while others keep quiet which is flight. We’re not fleeing from the battleground of gender inequality because we don’t care, but our battle is with the financial independence Tiger. One enemy at a time.
All good points.
Fritz, thanks for writing your weekly Manifesto.
Ccjarider I would never want to quiet the masses. Often thinking differently leads to innovation and positive change. Those who do proceed to do so should expect that there may be ramifications. That’s all I am saying. Not that they should not say what they want. Just expect that for any action there is likely a reaction.
Ah fight or flight. The beauty of financial independence is that once you make it, then you really are not beholden to the rules of a corporation. You can say what you want as long as you don’t want to have a job at that place anymore. Fxxx you money as some have put it.
Thanks for the comments!
I work in the software industry (on the East Coast – do do have software development here). It is difficult to find female developers. Back in the dark ages when I was in school, less than 10% of my engineering class was female. We need the diversity. We are losing 50% of capability by not having them. I have visited software development sites in China – it was close to 50/50 there. So it is possible.
The problem, in my opinion starts in middle school. When my daughter had a little trouble with math in 8th grade, she was told that girls brains can’t do math. For the record, I met her mom in Calculus class. We could not convince our daughter that this line was BS.
I listened to a podcast the other day. Seems there is a lawsuit against Harvard because they limit the number of Asians admitted. They score so well, that their representation is higher than the overall population. There are two sides. Limiting the educational options for well qualified students does not help the overall US economy. We NEED all the innovation we can get. Yet somehow we do have to help the disadvantaged.
That’s a shame. Who told your daughter, girls brains can’t do math?
Half the battle in learning is to have a teacher instill a belief in a student that anything is possible.
Disclaimer: I am a women in science/engineering field.
I am not offended at all by James’ memo — biological differences are real in a statistical sense and these traits lead to a statistically significant discrepancies in certain things, that is just the way it is. Also, however he thinks of women has nothing to do with his software engineering work, if I was working with him in the office, I personally have absolutely no problem of working with him again unless his productivity or collaborative effort is compromised. But his view does not reflect his opinion of any individual coworker, so I would assume there is no impact in his work behavior because how he views women as a statistical group.
Actually I personally am very offended that people thought I should be offended by his point of view which automatically puts me in a weak position without consulting my opinion or sheds a sympathetic light on me that I have no need for.
Is it a dumb move on James part to release a memo on an internal (semi-public) forum? Well, yes, but he is entitled to express his opinion. Is Google allowed to fire him? Of course, but it paints indeed a very monolithic company culture of Google. Everything one (whether it is an individual like James or a private company like Google) chooses to do, one bears the consequences of that choice.
To come at this from the other direction: I am a man in a “humanities” sort of profession, and I can’t imagine being offended that someone would say men are on average more inclined toward things that I personally am not remotely good at.
But what most amazes me about this whole thing is that his memo actually says that women are less inclined to LIKE working in science and engineering, not that they aren’t able to do it. He even suggests ways in which google could make their company more inviting to women.
The guy sounded very reasonable and thoughtful in his memo actually. All the additional comments/annotations clearly indicated that he tried really hard to explain things with as much clarity and nuances as possible without coming off offensive. The fact that the memo has so many (*)’s and extra definitions almost made it annoying to read for me at times, lol.
The Google Manifesto. The Communist Manifesto. The Unibomber Manifesto.
The Retirement Manifesto.
Scary to think I appear to be the only one writing a “Manifesto” who isn’t off kilter (or maybe I am?). On a serious note, it’s shocking to me how stupid people can be in their workplace. I had a co-worker who lost his $200k/yr job because he was scamming on his expense account. Yep, lots of great content out there for The Stupid Manifesto.
It’s Unabomber, not Unibomber. They called it a manifesto to defame him. He did not call it that. They want to discredit the man by making him out to be a demagogue.
Lol, because discrediting a murderer is difficult. :)
Best comment of the thread!
Absolutely agree with you here. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but be prepared for the consequences as well. The consequences become less and less the closer you are to FI.
Interestingly enough, the more open and honest I am at my corporate job (without stepping on obvious landmines such as this), the more I’m seen as a valuable contributor to the team. It’s a fine line between valuable contributor and offensive sometimes.
This is a really great article! Thank you so much for all you do!
I read that entire manifesto, and if nothing else, I think it proves that completely rational, even highly intelligent people – can still be prejudiced.
Apparently Julian Assange offered him a job at Wikileaks right after he got fired… lol, so at least he’s got that going for him!
He’s going to need it considering that he’s probably blacklisted from anywhere else in Silicon Valley.
Love the tough love tip you gave with #2. He should’ve known what he was getting into…
Maybe he new knew exactly what he was doing. Considering he had a lawyer and a NLRB complaint already I believe, it seems quite plausible that he has played out a couple moves ahead here.
Could be! The financial freedom fighter certainly does plan several moves in advance. Not sure if he can win over a $5M – $10M windfall though, which is what it is needed if he wants to stay in the Bay Area.
I see the book title already: “Google’s Icarus; Cast Down From The Bay”
Hoping to win $5-10 at the risk of losing his entire career is like putting his entire life savings into a gamble. It could either make him rich or burn him to the core. Either way, I wish him the best of luck.
It’s not easier to be a Googler, and he’s risking all that for his freedom of speech. Gotta give the guy some props for his courage.
Sam – A very thought-provoking post.
My initial thought was that maybe it’s difficult on a macro scale for companies to hit diversity targets because there just aren’t enough qualified candidates. In other words, if every company that hires software developers wants to hire CompSci majors but not enough minorities major in CompSci, then it’s going to be difficult.
Based on very quick research, this is the case:
This graphic shows that 5-6% of CompSci degrees go to African Americans. If Google has only 2%, then they should:
1) Target 5-6% instead of the only 2% they have. Hitting 12% hiring that represent total percentage of African Americans in the general population is going to be tough.
2) Set up programs to help more African Americans get CompSci degrees.
Does this make sense?
Sure it does. There are a dozen good reasons why women and certain minorities are underrepresented in tech besides corporate institutional racism and misogyny. I’m sure Google management already understands those reasons pretty well. Heck, I’m sure the average Jane/Joe on the street has a pretty good grasp of the idea that a large majority of CS majors are men, and that this will result in an imbalance in the workforce in tech companies. However, listing those reasons publicly is essentially a zero upside proposition for an employee. Even if one’s ruminations are thoughtful and well argued, they will simply be fed into the outrage machine, stripped of all nuance, and create a public relations nightmare for the employer (in this case for a company already under intense scrutiny over these issues). For better or worse, being a good employee involves understanding the current Zeitgeist and representing your company well, not trying to be a “brave intellectual” and hash through the particulars of a hot-button issue that will almost certainly invite PR blow-back.
There’s a good, brief discussion here (which in part addresses a mistake Sam made in the opening paragraph):
I agree – if you’re a Wage Slave, then most of the time you need to be a good Corporate Drone and tow the company line. The guy committed career suicide at least in Silicon Valley. Mid-western software companies might like the way the guy thinks – I don’t know.
I’m already FIREd so I have more a a capitalist or shareholder mentality. This be-a-good-Corporate-Drone-thing is not so great for shareholders. Why? Because it means that large companies can easily fall victim to Group Think. I grew up in the 70s and 80s in Detroit. GM, Ford, and Chrysler thought the lower-cost, higher quality Japanese Imports where a joke. Any internal employee who thought otherwise was ostracized, fired, or demoted. This lasted right up to the point where the Japanese entered the luxury car market and started crushing the Detroit automakers.
It’s not also great for society. If the real problem is that we aren’t producing enough minority and female engineers to be hired, then beating on companies that don’t hire minorities and female engineers won’t solve the problem.
Climbing down now from my soapbox…:)
I think you’re right.
Ideally, a company should want to confront reality internally, while simultaneously addressing public concerns with tact.
Again, I don’t think Google is necessarily drinking their own Kool-Aid. I very much doubt that they think a 50/50 male/female split is achievable in the near to medium term. But they can still go out and message that they’re doing everything they can to recruit women and minorities, create a favorable working environment, and even build a pipeline of tech oriented women through educational programs. With tales of “bro culture” roiling places like Uber, the right public messaging, coupled with the right actions in-so-far as they’re reasonable, is essential. I’m sure there will be some who will never be satisfied with Google, but most get the joke. As long as Google is doing and saying the right things, they can probably avoid public ire, even if their demographic results don’t match their ideal. “Manifestos” just attract the wrong kind of publicity.