Google Engineer Tries to Explain Away the Gender Pay Gap in Leaked ‘Anti-Diversity’ Memo

Google’s corporate headquarters, Mountain View, California. Photo: Brooks Kraft/Corbis via Getty Images

Google employees are furious following the internal distribution of a ten-page manifesto, written by an unnamed Google senior software engineer, that is critical of the company’s efforts to improve its gender and racial diversity.

In the memo, titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” the author says he wants to see the company embrace, “ideological diversity,” and argues, “We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism.”

The memo comes at a time when Google, and the broader tech sector, is making very public efforts to address the industry’s sexist culture, reduce pay inequities, and promote more women and minorities into positions of leadership.

Recent staffing data has shown that tech has one of the lowest rates of women in any industry. A U.S. Labor Department investigation showed “systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce.” (Google is still under investigation for this issue.)

Speaking to Motherboard, Googlers said the memo felt representative of the larger culture in tech. According to one former Google engineer,”There’s a lot of pushback from white dudes who genuinely feel like diversity is lowering the bar.”

The memo has caused such uproar, that Google’s new vice-president of diversity, integrity, and governance, Danielle Brown, responded last night in an internal memo to the company. In it she said that the company doesn’t support the positions in the document, but everyone should “feel safe sharing” their opinions.

“We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company,” Brown wrote. “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.”

Below, some of the leaked memo’s most controversial statements.

The author makes a call to embrace “ideological diversity” over gender and racial diversity:

• “Viewpoint diversity is arguably the most important type of diversity and political orientation is one of the most fundamental and significant ways in which people view things differently.”

• “In highly progressive environments, conservatives are a minority that feel like they need to stay in the closet to avoid open hostility. We should empower those with different ideologies to be able to express themselves.”

He argues the gender pay gap “doesn’t necessarily imply sexism”; biology also plays a role:

• “[Women on average have more]: Openness directed towards feelings and aesthetics rather than ideas. Women generally also have a stronger interest in people rather than things, relative to men (also interpreted as empathizing vs. systemizing).”

•”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.”

He suggests men and women make different choices in the careers they pursue, which is one reason they end up in different places professionally:

• “Women on average look for more work-life balance while men have a higher drive for status on average.”

• “Unfortunately, as long as tech and leadership remain high status, lucrative careers, men may disproportionately want to be in them. Allowing and truly endorsing (as part of our culture) part time work though can keep more women in tech.”

He believes Google’s efforts to combat diversity, like programs, mentoring, and classes for people with a specific race or gender, are discriminatory:

“These practices are based on false assumptions generated by our biases and can actually increase race and gender tensions. We’re told by senior leadership that what we’re doing is both the morally and economically correct thing to do, but without evidence this is just veiled left ideology that can irreparably harm Google.”

You can read the full memo, and Brown’s response, at Gizmodo.

Google Engineer Tries to Justify Pay Gap in Leaked Memo