This month the CTM team are thinking about gender discrimination, after a recent episode was reported at Google. The report on Google can be read here. Here’s what our columnist had to say about gender discrimination.
Mr Damore’s memo is almost impressive from an academic point of view. It’s well structured, presented, and contains plenty of research to back up his argument. However, it’s all for nothing, as the entire document could have been deleted and just replaced with the phrase “As a man, I don’t think women face discrimination.”
One particularly standout moment from the document is the list of all the ‘biological’ reasons behind the gender gap in the tech industry. Under the heading ‘Neuroticism’, he tries to put the lack of women within Google down to our inability to cope with high stress jobs, implying that these issues exist purely in a vacuum. However, for all this seemingly detailed research in to women’s mental health issues, he fails to point out that is socially more acceptable for women to discuss their emotions, therefore making them more likely to seek help for conditions like anxiety and stress. It explains that women are generally more agreeable, ignoring the fact that women openly disagreeing with men can lead to us being dismissed as “bossy.” Where a man would be praised for being assertive.
None of the traits listed exist in a vacuum and for all the psychological research, all the footnotes explaining away cultural bias and setting out minor exceptions, it ignores one salient piece of evidence to the contrary. Women are telling you that they’re being discriminated against.
Every day and in almost every industry, women are speaking out in cases of discrimination at the risk of their career, and every day their voices are drowned out by a chorus of men saying “Well, I don’t experience it, so it can’t be true.” The gender gap in the tech industry is to the benefit of men, therefore men have nothing really to gain from tackling it – leading them to bury it instead.
If Google is serious about addressing this, they need to begin by amplifying the voices of the people being affected. You can’t fix the issue if you don’t know what it is.