google gender/ diversity memo firestorm, other tech+gender stuff

hi all. what a firestorm this week. james Damore got fired over his memo analyzing gender differences at google, citing scientific research into evolutionary psychology. theres so much media froth on this feel sure that it will continue into next week, but my bookmarks runneth over at this point. “triggered”! like the essay itself: touched a nerve….

this comes at a very bad time for Google which was already under investigation for hiring balances by the US labor dept[a23] and female engineers are considering a class action lawsuit.[a14][a15] looks from here like Google is under pressure from multiple/ all sides/ fronts, maybe in a catch22/ no-win situation wrt this issue. aka a lightning rod, just like damore himself! its turned into a black eye/ PR nightmare for everyone involved…

have studied evopsych heavily for over a decade. it doesnt fit in well with the modern thinking on “political correctness”. that might be an understatement. the two seem to be in conflict, almost with as much fervor as science and religion. the scandal is reminiscent of one involving Summers at Harvard over a decade ago that also partly cost him his job.[d1][d2]

my feeling is that evolutionary psychology is as old as freud who noticed a very distinct sexuality component to the ego. he didnt seem to realize exactly how “hardwired/ instinctual” it is, maybe he thought it was somewhat cultural. it was a sort of theoretical abstraction for him much of the time. he also was in some ways apparently more interested with what might be called childhood pseudo-sexuality than adult sexuality.

damore eruditely criticized groupthink, and got fired for his effort, even with his meticulous citations it was no defense (or maybe the citations made it even worse?).[a12] incendiary! feel he maybe deserved some time off without pay but think the TERMINATION was overreactive. it proves that neither the left or right has any monopoly on reason/ logic.

think he is making some subtle points/ distinctions based on solid science, would like to unpack some of his thinking further here but thats likely a futile endeavor. one might even call it a discriminating essay. did anyone notice how that word is a double-edged sword?

in some cases like this, the actual/ specific contents of the writing do not matter so much. it looks like a modern verbal rorschach test so to speak (and yes, that concept is contradictory). Damore is being widely misquoted. lots have put words into his mouth. a cavalcade of straw men have been knocked down and burned. there is a lot of “projecting” going on by people and even by reputable news agencies.

in the 21st century, there really are certain topics that people just cant discuss dispassionately. its as if the reasoning brain center is just hijacked ala that movie “inside out”… politics, religion, sex. the radioactive trifecta! in various ways Damore managed to impinge on all 3!  in the age of 50 shades of gray, our culture only recognizes/ is increasingly polarized into black/ white.

sometimes, free speech is really a laughable/ laughingstock abstraction in our country.

although in this age of ~½-naked kardashian selfies, its slightly )( heartening that something other than a racy bimbo photo went viral. an actual, real-live intellectual argument! but maybe thats only an illusion and it was really only the gnashing of teeth, pulling of hair, and shrill shrieking that actually went viral…?

have noticed and noted here the increasing attention bordering on shrillness to gender differences in technology and computer science.

yin vs yang is a thousands-year old concept but it seems modern culture is somewhat in denial of it. yin vs yang is a deep element of the universe and was once celebrated for its harmony, but it seems that the old concept Battle of the Sexes has returned in our lives in a new novel form.

big corporations are all about image vs reality. unf the bigger the corp, the more controlling it is, and modern young tech corps cannot escape that tendency. google despite all its idealism & “think differently” (aka apple) is STILL A CORP.

it seems to me we need to redesign corps. there is a ref to “corporatocracy” that have myself felt/ lived personally for over a decade and a half (or rather, have lived in it for over two decades but didnt notice its oppressive tendencies immediately– seems they are very well hidden/ concealed). corps have more power than govt. reality is the opposite of whats “on paper”.

youve heard all about “thinking outside the box” at supposedly enlightened corps? corps ARE the box.

corps have lots of invisible, but nevertheless sometimes deadly electric fences. ZZZT, ZAP.

corps are the modern Panopticon realized. invented by Bentham and (re)analyzed by Foucault.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

dont wanna be all negative-sounding for an entire blog post! so, moving on, another recent highly politicized episode/ drama combining tech + gender with more of a happy ending is the case of the female afghan robotics team.[c] reports are that Trump personally intervened. Ivanka Trump attended the meeting and gave a speech. its always quite heartening to witness/ realize that Govt Always Does The Right Thing If Enough People Kick It Hard Enough.™

we dont have Obama and his coding initiative any more but it looks like Ivanka may pick up some of that slack. there are news reports about her daughter learning coding/ CS.[d4][d5]

a. google
b. culture
c. afghan
d. gender

One thought on “google gender/ diversity memo firestorm, other tech+gender stuff

  1. Ellie Kesselman

    Google’s decision to promptly fire Damore–because the content of his “manifesto” will not be tolerated–was foolish. Damore wrote a thought piece that used relevant scholarly journal articles as sources for its key points. It wasn’t a “manifesto” as the media sensationalized it, nor an opinion-based screed. Damore will get another job somewhere else. Google will continue to have the same problems it does now, regardless of whether one is of the Damore viewpoint, or buys in to Google diversity culture. Instead of firing Damore, Google should have done some introspection, and assessed whether its corporate culture of social justice needed changes.

    When companies become large corporations, you’re right: they *do* tend to take on a um, non-benevolent life of their own! Google champions net neutrality, open source, and positions itself as a crusader against repressive surveillance states. That’s why I am so amused that it is refusing to cooperate with the Department of Labor! Google seems to consider itself a better arbiter of discriminatory hiring than the United States agency responsible for oversight of fairness in the workplace for everyone, whether female OR male.


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