Author Topic: The Viral Internal Google Memo  (Read 10920 times)

ooeei

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #50 on: August 08, 2017, 01:42:36 PM »
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Did you even read the paper? It seems from this response you've only read other summaries of it. He states numerous times that these analyses don't mean much for the individual, because there is significant overlap between groups.

I did slog through the whole memo.

The way this plays out in the real world is that population differences across genders are also used against individual women who have excellent quantitative or analytical skills on par with the best men. Every mistake, every decision, that these women make is filtered through this prism that women, generally, aren't as good as men. They aren't allowed to make mistakes as highly qualified individuals, rather their mistakes are treated as evidence of their gender's inferiority.

I work in a field that is dominated by women. The topical area we work on isn't really of interest to men. But it's a very quantitative work. I work with many female statisticians, data scientists, and analysts. Many have PhDs from elite schools. I don't think most of the women I work with have a huge, personal interest in our more people-oriented rather than thing-oriented research, they work here because they get to do analytical work without their intellect being constantly questioned due to their gender. Many would be very happy to work in more integrated spaces on more masculine research, and several have, but it just gets so god damn tiring having to constantly work against the assumption that you're not as smart, not as capable, because women "generally" aren't as analytical as men.

So your argument isn't that the author is incorrect, but rather that these ideas can be misused to disqualify women from positions they're otherwise qualified for? Does that mean we just put on blinders and pretend these other factors don't exist?

I get where you're coming from, and you're probably right about how it might be used, but those same people who would use this to disqualify women will use the "diversity hire" excuse to discredit the women they do hire. The tough thing is, if diversity hiring is forced and brings in underqualified candidates, the dissenters will be right because they candidates will actually be inferior to their majority counterparts.

I think this is similar to the armed forces discussions happening over the past few years. Should women be banned from joining elite combat squads like the Army Rangers? No, not if they're qualified. I do find it very hard to believe that of the Ranger candidates, 50% of the qualified personnel are female, so I don't think it should be a forced 50/50 split. If the army forced it to be a 50/50 split, I think they'd put themselves at a disadvantage compared to other similar forces without that restriction.

I guess it depends on how you think we should approach the problem, and where you think we are right now. 30 years ago it was very common for women to be turned down for a position despite being the best candidate.  Now it seems at least in some cases (but not all), women are being chosen for positions in spite of not being the best candidate. I get that there's still a pay gap (although far less than the 30% or whatever is usually cited once you correct for work hours and job type), but the pendulum is close to if not past the center point now.

So do we have the Army Rangers force a 50/50 split until the recruits catch up to that ratio, and hope that eventually they do? Or do we try and give everyone an equal shot at things, and accept that being a minority is a given for certain demographics in certain jobs, and something you have to deal with? If you're a guy who wants to be a nurse, or a girl who wants to be a logger, you're going to have to deal with being in the minority.

I'm not sure how one can interpret the overlapping bell curve chart other than to see that the author believes women are inherently inferior at software development.

There are all sorts of reasons why fewer women than men would decide to pursue a career in software. Biological differences are one possibility, yes, but one that is far from proven. As golden1 pointed out earlier, software development was originally seen as "women's work" by men who thought hardware engineering had a higher level of status. Once Microsoft and other software companies started being profitable in their own right, and software development became seen as more of a high-status job, men rushed in.

I'm not discounting the possibility of a small genetic difference in aptitude, but let's be clear. Any biological difference is vastly eclipsed by the social biases around software engineering as an occupation.  So many of my women and racial minority colleagues have multiple stories about times when they were explicitly discouraged from pursuing a career in software because a parent or teacher or good friend didn't think it was a good fit for them as a woman or racial minority. Diversity initiatives are meant to combat that type of discouragement by providing explicit encouragement: girls can code, technology is for black people too, etc. To say that possible, unproven genetic differences are a reason to consider stopping diversity initiatives is missing the point entirely.

How about the idea that men are inferior at verbal communication, or understanding people? Is that about women being inferior too?

Men and women are biologically different.  There's plenty of overlap, but there has been a lot of research that shows differences in them across not only human cultures, but primates as well. Testosterone alone is a really powerful hormone that changes all sorts of personality traits, ask any guy who's gone on supplementation for it. To say that you somehow know that the difference is just social and completely discount the research is a pretty far reach.

Programs encouraging women to get in to certain classes or hobbies or whatever are a great thing, give them the opportunity to do it. Programs forcing companies to hire candidates based on their gender or race just seem a bit racist/sexist to me, which I thought was the opposite of what we were trying to achieve.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2017, 01:50:14 PM by ooeei »

prognastat

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #51 on: August 08, 2017, 01:58:54 PM »
I thought it was well articulated and thoughtful, and didn't say "Women are inferior or dumb"

I'm not sure how one can interpret the overlapping bell curve chart other than to see that the author believes women are inherently inferior at software development.

There are all sorts of reasons why fewer women than men would decide to pursue a career in software. Biological differences are one possibility, yes, but one that is far from proven. As golden1 pointed out earlier, software development was originally seen as "women's work" by men who thought hardware engineering had a higher level of status. Once Microsoft and other software companies started being profitable in their own right, and software development became seen as more of a high-status job, men rushed in.

I'm not discounting the possibility of a small genetic difference in aptitude, but let's be clear. Any biological difference is vastly eclipsed by the social biases around software engineering as an occupation.  So many of my women and racial minority colleagues have multiple stories about times when they were explicitly discouraged from pursuing a career in software because a parent or teacher or good friend didn't think it was a good fit for them as a woman or racial minority. Diversity initiatives are meant to combat that type of discouragement by providing explicit encouragement: girls can code, technology is for black people too, etc. To say that possible, unproven genetic differences are a reason to consider stopping diversity initiatives is missing the point entirely.

A lot of assertions and anecdote with no actual research provided to back it up. As far as intelligence goes the research favours nature over nurture in the long run.

Research suggests that environmental factors may have an effect upon IQ during childhood. It was found that severely deprived, neglectful, or abusive environments have highly negative effects on many aspects of children's intellect development. Beyond that minimum, however, the role of family experience is in serious dispute. On the other hand, by late adolescence this correlation disappears, such that adoptive siblings no longer have similar IQ scores. Adoption studies indicate that, by adulthood, adoptive siblings are no more similar in IQ than strangers (IQ correlation near zero), while full siblings show an IQ correlation of 0.6. Twin studies reinforce this pattern: monozygotic (identical) twins raised separately are highly similar in IQ (0.74), more so than dizygotic (fraternal) twins raised together (0.6) and much more than adoptive siblings (~0.0). Recent adoption studies also found that supportive parents can have a positive effect on the development of their children.

Source:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9549239

Now it might be a stretch to say high IQ/g factor would guarantee someone will make for a  great programmer. But it is a much stronger case than you saying that environmental factors are simply overriding "small genetic differences".

Also the bell curve also implies that there are many more stupid men than there are stupid women. But all the people complaining about it conveniently ignore this part.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2017, 02:01:53 PM by prognastat »

Roboturner

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #52 on: August 08, 2017, 02:17:28 PM »
My suspicion is most didn't read it and are instead going off of media spin to inform their opinion on the matter.

That's our culture in a nutshell - rent-an-opinion (bonus points if it's popular!)
"I win again, just like always!"




Trede

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #53 on: August 08, 2017, 02:22:53 PM »
Taking the discussion in another direction, I find myself far more curious about the motivations and/or the environment that prompted Mr. Damore to write the memo in the first place.  It certainly seems to have over-ridden his instinct for professional self-preservation (or given he's still relatively young he didn't consider its content and the context of where he posted it and the impact it could have on his professional self... or that even that there's a difference between professional and personal selfs.... but I digress).  If anyone finds an interview by him or news article taking the motivation question on, I'd like to see the link.  Sure, we can speculate all kinds of things, but I'd rather not.

I've gone back over the memo (thanks to the person who posted the link to the original, by the way), and while the majority of the content is about his views on the validity and approach to diversity programs, I wish he'd expounded more on the "shaming dissenters into silence."  He makes some pretty broad leaps on his Page 3 about company behaviors vs. how the majority of its employees lean (i.e., left or right), and then says "Google’s left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence."  I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and interpret that as a far leaning company to either side may have a "monoculture."  Even then, is it his own discomfort in being in a culture that does not match his personal leanings creating the "shame" or a bona fide hostile work environment?

(By the way, older female engineer in a male-dominated industry here.  My lack of interest in Damore's core diversity treatise is because I'm jaded and personally at peace with my views on the topic, not because I don't think the topic itself has value.  I'm just hoping to see more information on the motivations question.)

FrugalToque

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #54 on: August 08, 2017, 02:38:09 PM »
I'm old enough to know this sort of argument has been cropping up for decades.  What I find most enlightening, beyond the random tidbits like the throwaway statistic about worker deaths by gender, is the "Suggestions" that come at the end.

1.  Stop moralizing Diversity.
If we don't make a moral issue of diversity, then we don't actually have a diversity problem, do we?  The problem exists because we value the idea of everyone being offered a seat at the table.
If you saw starving children arriving at your kids' school every day, would you say, "Let's not moralize this.  Let's determine pragmatically if feeding these children is part of a valid economic model, vis-a-vis how much we get back in taxes and societal benefit."?
No?  Would you just find a way to get them food because you think it's "right" to feed children?
Well, Mr. Damore finds you irrational for "moralizing" starvation.

2.  Stop alienating conservatives.
I see.  I think this is the real "problem" from his point of view.  Unfortunately, I've been around since the 80s, when Rush Limbaugh coined the term "feminazi" and people complained about "reverse sexism".  The language hasn't really changed, and the arguments are no better now than they were then.  (And I think we all agree women were treated poorly then?  And that nay-sayers back then were also blaming either genetics or women's choices?)
What really bothers him is that his "conservative" viewpoints aren't given the privilege they get in other spaces, or other times.

The real problem he's seeing is that reality isn't working out to favour his biases and he's hoping to preserve one last place where the hard core "meritocracy" will put people like himself at the front.

Toque.

prognastat

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #55 on: August 08, 2017, 02:44:12 PM »
I'm old enough to know this sort of argument has been cropping up for decades.  What I find most enlightening, beyond the random tidbits like the throwaway statistic about worker deaths by gender, is the "Suggestions" that come at the end.

1.  Stop moralizing Diversity.
If we don't make a moral issue of diversity, then we don't actually have a diversity problem, do we?  The problem exists because we value the idea of everyone being offered a seat at the table.
If you saw starving children arriving at your kids' school every day, would you say, "Let's not moralize this.  Let's determine pragmatically if feeding these children is part of a valid economic model, vis-a-vis how much we get back in taxes and societal benefit."?
No?  Would you just find a way to get them food because you think it's "right" to feed children?
Well, Mr. Damore finds you irrational for "moralizing" starvation.

2.  Stop alienating conservatives.
I see.  I think this is the real "problem" from his point of view.  Unfortunately, I've been around since the 80s, when Rush Limbaugh coined the term "feminazi" and people complained about "reverse sexism".  The language hasn't really changed, and the arguments are no better now than they were then.  (And I think we all agree women were treated poorly then?  And that nay-sayers back then were also blaming either genetics or women's choices?)
What really bothers him is that his "conservative" viewpoints aren't given the privilege they get in other spaces, or other times.

The real problem he's seeing is that reality isn't working out to favour his biases and he's hoping to preserve one last place where the hard core "meritocracy" will put people like himself at the front.

Toque.

We could read what he has to say and argue his points.

Or we could read between the lines and speculate as to what his "intent" was.

The latter is so much easier because it doesn't require researching his points and using actual data to dispute him and instead allows us to simply dismiss them out of hand.

Also he doesn't come off as a conservative to me. Just like some who aren't part of a minority group can advocate for those of said group it is also possible for someone to advocate for conservative's having the freedom to speak while not being one nor agreeing with everything they believe. Given that the writer actually goes out and agrees that discrimination sexism and racism are things that actually are happening in America I suspect they are at "worst" centrist and probably have quite a few liberal beliefs.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2017, 02:46:55 PM by prognastat »

Jrr85

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #56 on: August 08, 2017, 02:47:54 PM »
I'm old enough to know this sort of argument has been cropping up for decades.  What I find most enlightening, beyond the random tidbits like the throwaway statistic about worker deaths by gender, is the "Suggestions" that come at the end.

1.  Stop moralizing Diversity.
If we don't make a moral issue of diversity, then we don't actually have a diversity problem, do we?  The problem exists because we value the idea of everyone being offered a seat at the table.
If you saw starving children arriving at your kids' school every day, would you say, "Let's not moralize this.  Let's determine pragmatically if feeding these children is part of a valid economic model, vis-a-vis how much we get back in taxes and societal benefit."?
No?  Would you just find a way to get them food because you think it's "right" to feed children?
Well, Mr. Damore finds you irrational for "moralizing" starvation.

2.  Stop alienating conservatives.
I see.  I think this is the real "problem" from his point of view.  Unfortunately, I've been around since the 80s, when Rush Limbaugh coined the term "feminazi" and people complained about "reverse sexism".  The language hasn't really changed, and the arguments are no better now than they were then.  (And I think we all agree women were treated poorly then?  And that nay-sayers back then were also blaming either genetics or women's choices?)
What really bothers him is that his "conservative" viewpoints aren't given the privilege they get in other spaces, or other times.

The real problem he's seeing is that reality isn't working out to favour his biases and he's hoping to preserve one last place where the hard core "meritocracy" will put people like himself at the front.

Toque.

Clearly the senior engineer at google with a phD in systems biology from Harvard is a failure and lashing out. 

scantee

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #57 on: August 08, 2017, 03:01:04 PM »
Quote
So your argument isn't that the author is incorrect, but rather that these ideas can be misused to disqualify women from positions they're otherwise qualified for? Does that mean we just put on blinders and pretend these other factors don't exist?

My argument is (or would be, I don't believe I've made my argument yet) that we don't have very good research findings yet that tease out the purely genetic, epigenetic, and purely environmental factors that contribute to varying gender performance in programming or any other profession. I think it is important to remember that we are very early into this massive cultural shift of having women 1) in the working world in 2) professions that have been traditionally male-dominated. Acknowledging that we're still in the very early stages of this change means admitting that we simply don't know, and probably won't know for some time, what that means in terms of gender-specific work performance in science and math fields.

Just for argument's sake, let's grant one of the major premises of the memo, that there is massive overlap in the aptitude curves for programming for the two genders, but that there are more men on the right tail end, and this is what primarily contributes to the gender skewness in programming. Even with this, I still don't think that necessarily translates into men at the right tail end being better at programming in an actual work environment even in the most elite and sought after companies like Google. Google isn't running some sort of massive, theoretical coding contest. They make products by real human beings for real human beings, which is an endeavor that requires high level communication and collaboration skills, not just technical skills. This is true of most technical work in modern work environments. It is possible that people who are slightly less technically skilled, but very good with things like communication and planning, might actually perform at a higher level than someone with superb technical skills who lacks other soft skills or executive functioning qualities.




gerardc

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #58 on: August 08, 2017, 03:11:43 PM »
My argument is (or would be, I don't believe I've made my argument yet) that we don't have very good research findings yet that tease out the purely genetic, epigenetic, and purely environmental factors that contribute to varying gender performance in programming or any other profession. I think it is important to remember that we are very early into this massive cultural shift of having women 1) in the working world in 2) professions that have been traditionally male-dominated. Acknowledging that we're still in the very early stages of this change means admitting that we simply don't know, and probably won't know for some time, what that means in terms of gender-specific work performance in science and math fields.

Completely agree that we don't know, really. It seems the main source of contention is how exactly to make an educated guess and proceed in the absence of conclusive evidence. We all have biases (Bayesian view of the world), we need to decide what's most probable given our limited knowledge.


Just for argument's sake, let's grant one of the major premises of the memo, that there is massive overlap in the aptitude curves for programming for the two genders, but that there are more men on the right tail end, and this is what primarily contributes to the gender skewness in programming. Even with this, I still don't think that necessarily translates into men at the right tail end being better at programming in an actual work environment even in the most elite and sought after companies like Google. Google isn't running some sort of massive, theoretical coding contest. They make products by real human beings for real human beings, which is an endeavor that requires high level communication and collaboration skills, not just technical skills. This is true of most technical work in modern work environments. It is possible that people who are slightly less technically skilled, but very good with things like communication and planning, might actually perform at a higher level than someone with superb technical skills who lacks other soft skills or executive functioning qualities.

Well, Google interviews are 5 hour-long interviews of whiteboard technical problem solving (coding). That should tell you what Google really values for their employees. If communication was that important, you'd think they would weigh that more during recruiting, or end up with a non-qualified workforce.

ooeei

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #59 on: August 08, 2017, 03:18:03 PM »
Quote
So your argument isn't that the author is incorrect, but rather that these ideas can be misused to disqualify women from positions they're otherwise qualified for? Does that mean we just put on blinders and pretend these other factors don't exist?

My argument is (or would be, I don't believe I've made my argument yet) that we don't have very good research findings yet that tease out the purely genetic, epigenetic, and purely environmental factors that contribute to varying gender performance in programming or any other profession. I think it is important to remember that we are very early into this massive cultural shift of having women 1) in the working world in 2) professions that have been traditionally male-dominated. Acknowledging that we're still in the very early stages of this change means admitting that we simply don't know, and probably won't know for some time, what that means in terms of gender-specific work performance in science and math fields.

Just for argument's sake, let's grant one of the major premises of the memo, that there is massive overlap in the aptitude curves for programming for the two genders, but that there are more men on the right tail end, and this is what primarily contributes to the gender skewness in programming. Even with this, I still don't think that necessarily translates into men at the right tail end being better at programming in an actual work environment even in the most elite and sought after companies like Google. Google isn't running some sort of massive, theoretical coding contest. They make products by real human beings for real human beings, which is an endeavor that requires high level communication and collaboration skills, not just technical skills. This is true of most technical work in modern work environments. It is possible that people who are slightly less technically skilled, but very good with things like communication and planning, might actually perform at a higher level than someone with superb technical skills who lacks other soft skills or executive functioning qualities.

I agree with everything you said, and it doesn't seem all that far off from the author's points either. He uses what research we do have, but doesn't talk about completely gutting all diversity programs. He gives numerous suggestions that can help increase diversity naturally without forcing it, and basically asks to consider revising some of their programs.

I guess I just read it more as someone who sincerely wants to help than someone who hates women. I can see how it could be interpreted otherwise if you come with a different perspective.

I did an exercise at a corporate thing awhile back where they had us watch a speech the CEO gave twice. The first time we were instructed to think of him as a great guy with the company's best interests at heart who was trying to do a good job. The second time we were instructed to think of him like a villain who's only out for himself at anyone's expense, and has a puppy at home he keeps around to kick when he's mad. Even though we were doing it on purpose, it was remarkable how different the speech sounded and how I interpreted it through those different lenses. In the first case he was a good guy who was telling us some things that realistically had to be done, and would make us all a success. It was inspiring. In the second case he was a rich asshole telling us all we have to do extra work so he can get paid. I basically wanted to sabotage my work to screw him over. Exact same speech, 5 minutes apart, and with a forced perspective not nearly as deeply rooted as much of my personality and expectations. Since then I've tried to approach most things with giving the person the benefit of the doubt, although I don't always succeed.

prognastat

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #60 on: August 08, 2017, 03:20:50 PM »
Quote
So your argument isn't that the author is incorrect, but rather that these ideas can be misused to disqualify women from positions they're otherwise qualified for? Does that mean we just put on blinders and pretend these other factors don't exist?

My argument is (or would be, I don't believe I've made my argument yet) that we don't have very good research findings yet that tease out the purely genetic, epigenetic, and purely environmental factors that contribute to varying gender performance in programming or any other profession. I think it is important to remember that we are very early into this massive cultural shift of having women 1) in the working world in 2) professions that have been traditionally male-dominated. Acknowledging that we're still in the very early stages of this change means admitting that we simply don't know, and probably won't know for some time, what that means in terms of gender-specific work performance in science and math fields.

Just for argument's sake, let's grant one of the major premises of the memo, that there is massive overlap in the aptitude curves for programming for the two genders, but that there are more men on the right tail end, and this is what primarily contributes to the gender skewness in programming. Even with this, I still don't think that necessarily translates into men at the right tail end being better at programming in an actual work environment even in the most elite and sought after companies like Google. Google isn't running some sort of massive, theoretical coding contest. They make products by real human beings for real human beings, which is an endeavor that requires high level communication and collaboration skills, not just technical skills. This is true of most technical work in modern work environments. It is possible that people who are slightly less technically skilled, but very good with things like communication and planning, might actually perform at a higher level than someone with superb technical skills who lacks other soft skills or executive functioning qualities.

What do you believe is more important of the two? Would someone with amazing technical ability, but sufficient interpersonal skills or someone with sufficient technical ability, but amazing interpersonal skills? If it were me I would prefer the former rather than the latter in software development. Of course you aren't going to hire someone completely incompetent in the interpersonal department. You might be right that once you get high enough up the corporate ladder in software development that the latter becomes the more attractive. However the corporate structure is generally going to be very much like a pyramid and there are going to be a much larger amount of people near the bottom than higher up. If both of these are correct then it would be reasonable to expect that no matter what the former of the two is likely to outnumber the latter.

Then there is also the case generally people need to climb this corporate ladder and are expected to first and foremost excel at their current job before being considered for getting any kind of promotion. So if you are in a situation where the first person is going to perform best at the entry level jobs they are more likely to get to the positions higher up the ladder from that starting point. Now this of course doesn't apply for someone being hired from outside the company, but many people get promoted from inside the company on most levels except for the highest few. Not only that but to get the experience required many would have had to climb the ladder in a significantly similar enough corporation elsewhere to show they have the requisite experience.

The thing is he isn't actually arguing against women getting to any of these positions, he is arguing against google spending money and restricting freedom of speech/opinion among their employees to convince people that would otherwise not have decided to go with software development to pursue software development and not based upon their general capabilities, but instead their sex or skin tone.

Zamboni

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #61 on: August 08, 2017, 03:21:57 PM »
Well, Google interviews are 5 hour-long interviews of whiteboard technical problem solving (coding). That should tell you what Google really values for their employees. If communication was that important, you'd think they would weigh that more during recruiting, or end up with a non-qualified workforce.

Have you ever had a long whiteboard technical interview or presentation? I have . . . it is almost all about communication. Just about anyone who gets their foot in the door for those sessions can code, and everyone in the the room knows they can code, but can they talk to the group about coding? Can they interact with the interview group in a productive and professional manner? Do they make eye contact and acknowledge suggestions by others? Do they admit when they've gone in an odd direction and say "oh, my mistake, let's go back a couple of steps and think about this"? Do they ask follow up questions if the task is unclear? Do they come across as arrogant and abrasive? No offense is intended here, but you completely misunderstand why they are doing the hiring that way. If the just wanted spectacular coders who are asocial and awkward, then they would let the interview team spend their valuable time on other projects while the coding test problems are completed by applicants on paper, or perhaps on video as they talk to themselves. Sure, they might filter out the odd duck who really can't code with this method, but what they are really looking for is composure, creativity, confidence, cooperation, humility, and professional behavior.

Research on team composition has shown that high functioning diverse teams can solve problems that stump the most skilled or capable individual on the team as well as teams with theoretically "more skill" but less diverse compositions. Google is in business to make money, and the people who advise Google are well aware of the wealth of social science research about putting together the most productive work teams. Thus, Google is putting all of this effort into recruiting, hiring, and retaining for team diversity because, in any problem solving or designing field, it is good for business and will ultimately make their products stronger and more robust.

All of this bad press about the pay gap and sexist and/or leftist corporate culture has got to be driving the higher ups nutty there . . . no wonder the CEO cut his family vacation short.

prognastat

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #62 on: August 08, 2017, 03:28:24 PM »
Quote
So your argument isn't that the author is incorrect, but rather that these ideas can be misused to disqualify women from positions they're otherwise qualified for? Does that mean we just put on blinders and pretend these other factors don't exist?

My argument is (or would be, I don't believe I've made my argument yet) that we don't have very good research findings yet that tease out the purely genetic, epigenetic, and purely environmental factors that contribute to varying gender performance in programming or any other profession. I think it is important to remember that we are very early into this massive cultural shift of having women 1) in the working world in 2) professions that have been traditionally male-dominated. Acknowledging that we're still in the very early stages of this change means admitting that we simply don't know, and probably won't know for some time, what that means in terms of gender-specific work performance in science and math fields.

Just for argument's sake, let's grant one of the major premises of the memo, that there is massive overlap in the aptitude curves for programming for the two genders, but that there are more men on the right tail end, and this is what primarily contributes to the gender skewness in programming. Even with this, I still don't think that necessarily translates into men at the right tail end being better at programming in an actual work environment even in the most elite and sought after companies like Google. Google isn't running some sort of massive, theoretical coding contest. They make products by real human beings for real human beings, which is an endeavor that requires high level communication and collaboration skills, not just technical skills. This is true of most technical work in modern work environments. It is possible that people who are slightly less technically skilled, but very good with things like communication and planning, might actually perform at a higher level than someone with superb technical skills who lacks other soft skills or executive functioning qualities.

I agree with everything you said, and it doesn't seem all that far off from the author's points either. He uses what research we do have, but doesn't talk about completely gutting all diversity programs. He gives numerous suggestions that can help increase diversity naturally without forcing it, and basically asks to consider revising some of their programs.

I guess I just read it more as someone who sincerely wants to help than someone who hates women. I can see how it could be interpreted otherwise if you come with a different perspective.

I did an exercise at a corporate thing awhile back where they had us watch a speech the CEO gave twice. The first time we were instructed to think of him as a great guy with the company's best interests at heart who was trying to do a good job. The second time we were instructed to think of him like a villain who's only out for himself at anyone's expense, and has a puppy at home he keeps around to kick when he's mad. Even though we were doing it on purpose, it was remarkable how different the speech sounded and how I interpreted it through those different lenses. In the first case he was a good guy who was telling us some things that realistically had to be done, and would make us all a success. It was inspiring. In the second case he was a rich asshole telling us all we have to do extra work so he can get paid. I basically wanted to sabotage my work to screw him over. Exact same speech, 5 minutes apart, and with a forced perspective not nearly as deeply rooted as much of my personality and expectations. Since then I've tried to approach most things with giving the person the benefit of the doubt, although I don't always succeed.

Yeah it's called priming and can be quite powerful and happens all the time. Even the article title for the gizmodo article uses priming. It is referred to as an anti-diversity screed. First off screed generally implies negativity colouring the whole thing from the start and anti-diversity is another way to imply negativity when pro diversity of though would be more descriptive of the actual memo. Finally they removed all the sources the original memo contained, because this would counter their priming that there is no basis for his points and that they are merely bigoted opinions.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2017, 03:34:14 PM by prognastat »

gerardc

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #63 on: August 08, 2017, 03:30:54 PM »
Well, Google interviews are 5 hour-long interviews of whiteboard technical problem solving (coding). That should tell you what Google really values for their employees. If communication was that important, you'd think they would weigh that more during recruiting, or end up with a non-qualified workforce.

Have you ever had a long whiteboard technical interview or presentation? I have . . . it is almost all about communication. Just about anyone who gets their foot in the door for those sessions can code, and everyone in the the room knows they can code, but can they talk to the group about coding? Can they interact with the interview group in a productive and professional manner? Do they make eye contact and acknowledge suggestions by others? Do they admit when they've gone in an odd direction and say "oh, my mistake, let's go back a couple of steps and think about this"? Do they ask follow up questions if the task is unclear? Do they come across as arrogant and abrasive? No offense is intended here, but you completely misunderstand why they are doing the hiring that way. If the just wanted spectacular coders who are asocial and awkward, then they would let the interview team spend their valuable time on other projects while the coding test problems are completed by applicants on paper, or perhaps on video as they talk to themselves. Sure, they might filter out the odd duck who really can't code with this method, but what they are really looking for is composure, creativity, confidence, cooperation, humility, and professional behavior.

I interview software engineers for a big tech company. You're wrong, it's not "almost all" about communication, not even close. Communication is important, but a relatively small factor. And no, not all applicants can code well. Not even close either. In fact, most can't do the simplest thing, and figure out the simplest algorithm. I'm not kidding, it is that awful. My coworkers who interview think the same.

prognastat

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #64 on: August 08, 2017, 03:37:17 PM »
Well, Google interviews are 5 hour-long interviews of whiteboard technical problem solving (coding). That should tell you what Google really values for their employees. If communication was that important, you'd think they would weigh that more during recruiting, or end up with a non-qualified workforce.

Have you ever had a long whiteboard technical interview or presentation? I have . . . it is almost all about communication. Just about anyone who gets their foot in the door for those sessions can code, and everyone in the the room knows they can code, but can they talk to the group about coding? Can they interact with the interview group in a productive and professional manner? Do they make eye contact and acknowledge suggestions by others? Do they admit when they've gone in an odd direction and say "oh, my mistake, let's go back a couple of steps and think about this"? Do they ask follow up questions if the task is unclear? Do they come across as arrogant and abrasive? No offense is intended here, but you completely misunderstand why they are doing the hiring that way. If the just wanted spectacular coders who are asocial and awkward, then they would let the interview team spend their valuable time on other projects while the coding test problems are completed by applicants on paper, or perhaps on video as they talk to themselves. Sure, they might filter out the odd duck who really can't code with this method, but what they are really looking for is composure, creativity, confidence, cooperation, humility, and professional behavior.

I interview software engineers for a big tech company. You're wrong, it's not "almost all" about communication, not even close. Communication is important, but a relatively small factor. And no, not all applicants can code well. Not even close either. In fact, most can't do the simplest thing, and figure out the simplest algorithm. I'm not kidding, it is that awful. My coworkers who interview think the same.

I'd never even heard of the game FizzBuzz until I started looking into coding.

Zamboni

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #65 on: August 08, 2017, 03:39:30 PM »
And it takes Google 5 hours to figure out someone can't code? No way. I am the technical gatekeeper in many interviews, and I can find out if someone is technically incompetent in less than 30 minutes. Often it takes only 5-10 minutes. My opinion that you are completely missing the point of the lengthy white board interviews stands, but YMMV.

prognastat

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #66 on: August 08, 2017, 03:45:28 PM »
Also as point to massive sexism of the memo writer he has the gall to posit alternatives to effectively get more talented women in to google such as:
Improving work life balance
Making software engineering more people-oriented with pair programming and more collaboration
Allowing those that exhibit cooperative behavior to thrive

These would likely lead to more women being promoted as a percentage without giving them a leg up simply because they are women. There might be women that lack this and men that do not.

It's strange that this person that according to some believes women to be inferior would posit ways to get more women involved.

gerardc

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #67 on: August 08, 2017, 03:53:18 PM »
And it takes Google 5 hours to figure out someone can't code? No way. I am the technical gatekeeper in many interviews, and I can find out if someone is technically incompetent in less than 30 minutes. Often it takes only 5-10 minutes. My opinion that you are completely missing the point of the lengthy white board interviews stands, but YMMV.

They use the full 5 hours for every candidate because it would be disrespectful to send them back after 30 minutes as soon as they knew they were incompetent. So yes, after 5-10 minutes, I pretty much know how it's going to go, but I'm instructed to follow through with the full interview, so that's what I do. I'll adjust down the level of follow-up questions I ask, if any. They also have phone screens, but those are not foolproof, and recruiters give a "second chance" to many candidates they really really want to succeed, due to their background. That's how it works.

Communication skills are evaluated, but only if they give out red flags, e.g. arrogance, non-interest, etc. Most people easily pass that bar, but fail regarding technical skills. That's the kind of interview feedback that hiring managers are interested in. That's how tech companies size up their candidates.

deborah

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #68 on: August 08, 2017, 04:24:46 PM »
As a retired former IT manager, I find a lot that is said here strange.

In Australia, the number of coders is around 40/60 men/women. In the major capital cities it is much higher for women (maybe 65/35) and in rural (more conservative) areas the proportion weighs far more in favour of the men - maybe 80/20 - so it is definitely a mindset rather than an innate difference. The number of people in the hardware/comms area is far more in the 80/20 area - unfortunately, it appears that women are encouraged to go into programming rather than that side of the shop (which also explains the higher proportion of women in coding). When I have interviewed people, the women came out as good at coding as the men. We certainly never detected a difference there - we used tests, and I checked because I had somebody question whether women were worse at coding. We also never detected much difference between hardware/comms applicants - or rather, it tended to be in the women's favour (I tend to think that makes sense, as only the truly dedicated surmount the sexism hurdle).

I remember when I was our comms expert, and went to my first comms user group meeting. There were about 500 people there, and I was the only woman. That sort of difference would have been daunting for most people. Fortunately, things have progressed from there, and by the time I retired, I was no longer being asked who I was looking for when I attended such meetings, and being mistaken for a PA.

Christof

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #69 on: August 08, 2017, 04:39:55 PM »
So you would advocate hiring the person that seems less qualified on paper because based purely on superficial indicators(perceived skin colour or gender) that you would use to make assumptions about their past that might not actually be applicable to them at all?

That assumes that the most qualified person is the best person to hire... As a business owner I can tell you that this not true. Productivity of a company depends widely on how well people work together, on the quality of the companies' procedures and how well those are followed.

I have to hire for the company I have and according to the direction I want the company to move. I can't hire for a company I wished to have. The company might be better off if I had different people, but that simply isn't the case, unless I start over.

Qualification is a smaller issue, because it can be improved with training. Attitude and personality are much more fixed, so we try to hire based on these traits.

And before there is any misunderstanding.... We are a software company. 50% of our workers are above 50 and until recently we had a 50/50 distribution between male and female employees. It's not like we only hire young, white, male developers. We're small though...

prognastat

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #70 on: August 08, 2017, 04:40:08 PM »
As a retired former IT manager, I find a lot that is said here strange.

In Australia, the number of coders is around 40/60 men/women. In the major capital cities it is much higher for women (maybe 65/35) and in rural (more conservative) areas the proportion weighs far more in favour of the men - maybe 80/20 - so it is definitely a mindset rather than an innate difference. The number of people in the hardware/comms area is far more in the 80/20 area - unfortunately, it appears that women are encouraged to go into programming rather than that side of the shop (which also explains the higher proportion of women in coding). When I have interviewed people, the women came out as good at coding as the men. We certainly never detected a difference there - we used tests, and I checked because I had somebody question whether women were worse at coding. We also never detected much difference between hardware/comms applicants - or rather, it tended to be in the women's favour (I tend to think that makes sense, as only the truly dedicated surmount the sexism hurdle).

I remember when I was our comms expert, and went to my first comms user group meeting. There were about 500 people there, and I was the only woman. That sort of difference would have been daunting for most people. Fortunately, things have progressed from there, and by the time I retired, I was no longer being asked who I was looking for when I attended such meetings, and being mistaken for a PA.

https://insights.stackoverflow.com/survey/2015#profile

92.1% male in 2015.

prognastat

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #71 on: August 08, 2017, 04:47:15 PM »
So you would advocate hiring the person that seems less qualified on paper because based purely on superficial indicators(perceived skin colour or gender) that you would use to make assumptions about their past that might not actually be applicable to them at all?

That assumes that the most qualified person is the best person to hire... As a business owner I can tell you that this not true. Productivity of a company depends widely on how well people work together, on the quality of the companies' procedures and how well those are followed.

I have to hire for the company I have and according to the direction I want the company to move. I can't hire for a company I wished to have. The company might be better off if I had different people, but that simply isn't the case, unless I start over.

Qualification is a smaller issue, because it can be improved with training. Attitude and personality are much more fixed, so we try to hire based on these traits.

And before there is any misunderstanding.... We are a software company. 50% of our workers are above 50 and until recently we had a 50/50 distribution between male and female employees. It's not like we only hire young, white, male developers. We're small though...

The most qualified is the best to hire...period. At no point did I mention that this solely mean their ability to code. I even elaborated on this in a previous post:
"What do you believe is more important of the two? Would someone with amazing technical ability, but sufficient interpersonal skills or someone with sufficient technical ability, but amazing interpersonal skills? If it were me I would prefer the former rather than the latter in software development. Of course you aren't going to hire someone completely incompetent in the interpersonal department. You might be right that once you get high enough up the corporate ladder in software development that the latter becomes the more attractive. However the corporate structure is generally going to be very much like a pyramid and there are going to be a much larger amount of people near the bottom than higher up. If both of these are correct then it would be reasonable to expect that no matter what the former of the two is likely to outnumber the latter."

Also I would say it gets harder and harder to not hire the most qualified the larger the scope of your company is. If a small mom and pop store are looking for someone to create their web presence they probably don't need the absolute best programmer available and they can get away with simply finding someone convenient that they like.

When you are Google, Microsoft or other companies of similar size and competitiveness this is less the case.

deborah

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #72 on: August 08, 2017, 04:57:04 PM »
As a retired former IT manager, I find a lot that is said here strange.

In Australia, the number of coders is around 40/60 men/women. In the major capital cities it is much higher for women (maybe 65/35) and in rural (more conservative) areas the proportion weighs far more in favour of the men - maybe 80/20 - so it is definitely a mindset rather than an innate difference. The number of people in the hardware/comms area is far more in the 80/20 area - unfortunately, it appears that women are encouraged to go into programming rather than that side of the shop (which also explains the higher proportion of women in coding). When I have interviewed people, the women came out as good at coding as the men. We certainly never detected a difference there - we used tests, and I checked because I had somebody question whether women were worse at coding. We also never detected much difference between hardware/comms applicants - or rather, it tended to be in the women's favour (I tend to think that makes sense, as only the truly dedicated surmount the sexism hurdle).

I remember when I was our comms expert, and went to my first comms user group meeting. There were about 500 people there, and I was the only woman. That sort of difference would have been daunting for most people. Fortunately, things have progressed from there, and by the time I retired, I was no longer being asked who I was looking for when I attended such meetings, and being mistaken for a PA.

https://insights.stackoverflow.com/survey/2015#profile

92.1% male in 2015.
I was quoting the AUSTRALIAN figures that I was well aware of when I was in the industry. No matter whether they have seriously changed for the worse, or the international figures are a lot worse than Australia, my figures are accurate, and show that when given a chance, women are as capable.

prognastat

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #73 on: August 08, 2017, 04:58:22 PM »
As a retired former IT manager, I find a lot that is said here strange.

In Australia, the number of coders is around 40/60 men/women. In the major capital cities it is much higher for women (maybe 65/35) and in rural (more conservative) areas the proportion weighs far more in favour of the men - maybe 80/20 - so it is definitely a mindset rather than an innate difference. The number of people in the hardware/comms area is far more in the 80/20 area - unfortunately, it appears that women are encouraged to go into programming rather than that side of the shop (which also explains the higher proportion of women in coding). When I have interviewed people, the women came out as good at coding as the men. We certainly never detected a difference there - we used tests, and I checked because I had somebody question whether women were worse at coding. We also never detected much difference between hardware/comms applicants - or rather, it tended to be in the women's favour (I tend to think that makes sense, as only the truly dedicated surmount the sexism hurdle).

I remember when I was our comms expert, and went to my first comms user group meeting. There were about 500 people there, and I was the only woman. That sort of difference would have been daunting for most people. Fortunately, things have progressed from there, and by the time I retired, I was no longer being asked who I was looking for when I attended such meetings, and being mistaken for a PA.

https://insights.stackoverflow.com/survey/2015#profile

92.1% male in 2015.
I was quoting the AUSTRALIAN figures that I was well aware of when I was in the industry. No matter whether they have seriously changed for the worse, or the international figures are a lot worse than Australia, my figures are accurate, and show that when given a chance, women are as capable.

The only thing that says is that the Australian market is not representative of the larger market.

Also stating that if they had changed to have fewer women that it would be worse kind of indicates a bias when the statement is made in a vacuum. If someone said that the industry is worse because there are fewer men and that was their central premise I would call them out for that too.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2017, 05:00:12 PM by prognastat »

deborah

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #74 on: August 08, 2017, 05:01:28 PM »
As a retired former IT manager, I find a lot that is said here strange.

In Australia, the number of coders is around 40/60 men/women. In the major capital cities it is much higher for women (maybe 65/35) and in rural (more conservative) areas the proportion weighs far more in favour of the men - maybe 80/20 - so it is definitely a mindset rather than an innate difference. The number of people in the hardware/comms area is far more in the 80/20 area - unfortunately, it appears that women are encouraged to go into programming rather than that side of the shop (which also explains the higher proportion of women in coding). When I have interviewed people, the women came out as good at coding as the men. We certainly never detected a difference there - we used tests, and I checked because I had somebody question whether women were worse at coding. We also never detected much difference between hardware/comms applicants - or rather, it tended to be in the women's favour (I tend to think that makes sense, as only the truly dedicated surmount the sexism hurdle).

I remember when I was our comms expert, and went to my first comms user group meeting. There were about 500 people there, and I was the only woman. That sort of difference would have been daunting for most people. Fortunately, things have progressed from there, and by the time I retired, I was no longer being asked who I was looking for when I attended such meetings, and being mistaken for a PA.

https://insights.stackoverflow.com/survey/2015#profile

92.1% male in 2015.
I was quoting the AUSTRALIAN figures that I was well aware of when I was in the industry. No matter whether they have seriously changed for the worse, or the international figures are a lot worse than Australia, my figures are accurate, and show that when given a chance, women are as capable.

The only thing that says is that the Australian market is not representative of the larger market.
That is not true - it says that GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY, people of different genders perform as well as one another. If other markets don't give women the opportunity, that is their loss.

It is also an online survey, with all the known problems that online surveys have (eg. THEY DON'T REFLECT REAL LIFE FIGURES) show me some decent data!
« Last Edit: August 08, 2017, 05:13:43 PM by deborah »

Christof

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #75 on: August 08, 2017, 05:29:44 PM »
The most qualified is the best to hire...period.

In a big corporate environment, probably yes, though I lack personal experience. That is, in a company that has thousands or more of employees... In a small to medium sized business (which is what I own and which is the company size that employs the majority of employees) you would be crazy to hire that person, so any business up to a few hundred. Their lack of interpersonal skills will poison the whole company. The larger the company is the less relevant this will become, as there will be limited interaction.

There isn't a rule that a certain kind of employee is the best one. As the company grows you need different persons in all positions including the CEO. Almost nobody can grow a business successfully from just being themselves to thousands of people.

SisterX

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #76 on: August 08, 2017, 08:08:45 PM »
Of course moderators wouldn't do anything because "man-hate" isn't a thing in our society. In fact merely suggesting it might exist is seen as misogyny. Totally laughable. We're really in a world of sheeps, can't wait for the next generation to realize our mistakes, pretty sure that will happen.

There is, in fact, a term for "man-hate". Misandry. The fact that there is a word for it clearly shows that it is, in fact, a thing. However, it's been usurped by ridiculous terms like "feminazi" and other derogatory words to label women who are just sick and tired of being treated as lesser for having ovaries.

You're welcome.



You people really need to read more about business. For as wonderful and all-knowing as you seem to be, many of you don't actually know anything about why so many large companies are pushing for more diversity. Zamboni hit it on the head with this:

Research on team composition has shown that high functioning diverse teams can solve problems that stump the most skilled or capable individual on the team as well as teams with theoretically "more skill" but less diverse compositions. Google is in business to make money, and the people who advise Google are well aware of the wealth of social science research about putting together the most productive work teams. Thus, Google is putting all of this effort into recruiting, hiring, and retaining for team diversity because, in any problem solving or designing field, it is good for business and will ultimately make their products stronger and more robust.

For all that many of you have said that anyone who doesn't support this document is suppressing a valid concern that a subset of people have, it's been shown many times over that it's not only not a valid concern but also, having a greater diversity of opinion leads to better and better outcomes. Having a company stocked with white males is not only sure to fail because of image but also because there won't be people to point out very real issues with the products. It's like having only right-handed people designing things and then wondering why left-handed people don't like them or can't use them. It's a bad idea. That's something you could learn in a business management 101 class.

If you'd truly like to learn more, rather than just dismissing me because *ugh* women, try reading the book "The Wisdom of Crowds". It discusses what makes groups successful (diversity being highest on the list) and what makes them less successful (lack of diversity leads to the "echo chamber" that so many of you claim you want to get away from by, durr durr durr, denying that women and minorities are as valuable and productive), and where they can go wrong at various stages.

Last: It's not really the fault of women that men and boys are brought up to be emotionally stunted terrible communicators. That's a societal problem, mostly because of patriarchal "men must be strong and feelings are for sissies" gender stereotypes, and one that feminists would actually like to see rectified. I know, gasp away. It's like...it's like feminism isn't just good for women! O_O

gerardc

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #77 on: August 08, 2017, 08:52:31 PM »
Having a company stocked with white males is not only sure to fail because of image but also because there won't be people to point out very real issues with the products. It's like having only right-handed people designing things and then wondering why left-handed people don't like them or can't use them.

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I just skimmed your post, but wouldn't this apply mostly for product managers, UX designers and the like? Software engineers are mostly designing systems to meet well-defined product requirements, so I don't see why left-handed folks are necessary to design that code.


Here's Erlich Bachman on gender imbalance in the VC field and mansplaining to loosen up the mood:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyC_NKEz62A
« Last Edit: August 08, 2017, 08:56:27 PM by gerardc »

seattlecyclone

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #78 on: August 08, 2017, 09:39:38 PM »
Speaking as a software engineer myself, I don't think I've once seen a fully-specified set of requirements for a project I've had to work on. I always have to make a few assumptions about things not explicitly listed in the requirements in order to write my code. If I'm lucky, either I or the person reviewing my code will recognize that I've made such an assumption, and will call that out to the PM types for clarification if the assumption seems at all likely to be contrary to the intended project deliverables. Even better is if the gaps in the requirements can be called out before I start typing any code into the computer. Diversity helps here. The more different eyes you can put on things before you go too far down a wrong path, the better.
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vern

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #79 on: August 08, 2017, 09:55:13 PM »
Thoughtcrime is not tolerated.

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AccidentialMustache

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #80 on: August 08, 2017, 10:01:09 PM »
Response from former senior google employee (who left for greener pastures) . . . loved how he talked about "planet-scale" systems:

This.

Signed,
A non-google but formerly "planet-scale" software engineer.

Paul der Krake

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #81 on: August 08, 2017, 10:29:10 PM »
Agreed, please send some of those well-defined software projects my way. Dealing with ambiguity is the only game in town.

FWIW, I read the entire thing and didn't think it was that outrageous. I saw some good points, some not so good points, and some places where I thought he should tread more carefully. It read like a semi-organized stream of consciousness, something you would jot down after thinking about an issue for a while. He bent over backwards to put caveats and nuance in many of his statements, but ultimately people only focused on the couple sentences they could harp on.

Many people have questioned his motives, and why he would spend time putting a 10 page document together on something that's seemingly not his job: that's a tech culture thing. It happens all. the. fucking. time. He could have written 10 pages on the alarm system in the building or the shape of the trays at the cafeteria, and nobody would have batted an eye.

Initially, I thought his bit about conservatives being silenced was far-fetched. Probably because we don't live in a vacuum and this line of argument is usually used by the lunatics who rave about Christian oppression and the War on Christmas. Now that he's been fired over this, I'm not so sure.

gerardc

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #82 on: August 08, 2017, 11:17:03 PM »
Speaking as a software engineer myself, I don't think I've once seen a fully-specified set of requirements for a project I've had to work on. I always have to make a few assumptions about things not explicitly listed in the requirements in order to write my code. If I'm lucky, either I or the person reviewing my code will recognize that I've made such an assumption, and will call that out to the PM types for clarification if the assumption seems at all likely to be contrary to the intended project deliverables. Even better is if the gaps in the requirements can be called out before I start typing any code into the computer. Diversity helps here. The more different eyes you can put on things before you go too far down a wrong path, the better.

Wrong again. In a big company, influencing product decisions is < 5% of the job of an engineer, I'd say even < 1%. If the company needs diversity of user viewpoints, they'll hire a diverse QA team (which they do), PM, UX designers, etc. They let engineers discuss products for their own motivation, but engineers have no say in the final product. Even if they hire a team of e.g. 100% Asian male engineers, the team will still perform well; in fact that's almost what happens in SV.

This pro-diversity argument is a big stretch motivated more by PC-ness than optimizing performance (which explains why it's not acted upon by big companies). The argument is very common though, everyone and their mom is parotting it.


deborah

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #83 on: August 09, 2017, 12:39:02 AM »
First off, I have been looking around, and at least 20% of developers are women - everywhere. So it is nonsense to say there are less. Unfortunately, since I have left the field it appears to have become a lot less welcoming to women, and there are fewer now than there were.

Secondly, diversity does make a difference - it can be quite amazing how much! Often, the part of the project where a miracle is supposed to occur (the bit that hasn't been mapped out because no-one has any idea how it can be done), suddenly is resolved by the diversity element. As someone with more time in IT than I suspect anyone else in this discussion, I have seen everyone bogged down, and along comes a solution - sometimes it was the bloke in the wheelchair, sometimes the quiet woman in the corner. It was rarely the loud-mouths who had dominated discussion, and had interrupted the others during every sentence.

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #84 on: August 09, 2017, 01:07:37 AM »
Secondly, diversity does make a difference - it can be quite amazing how much! Often, the part of the project where a miracle is supposed to occur (the bit that hasn't been mapped out because no-one has any idea how it can be done), suddenly is resolved by the diversity element. As someone with more time in IT than I suspect anyone else in this discussion, I have seen everyone bogged down, and along comes a solution - sometimes it was the bloke in the wheelchair, sometimes the quiet woman in the corner. It was rarely the loud-mouths who had dominated discussion, and had interrupted the others during every sentence.

Some aspects of diversity are important, like personality traits (e.g. loud mouths vs reserved types) and maybe academic backgrounds (e.g. it's nice to have a person stronger in advanced math in the team), but some aspects are almost irrelevant in comparison, like disabilities, language, race, etc. Funny that we hear all day about racial or gender diversity, but almost never about diversity of academic backgrounds! Why? No one has a political agenda about academic backgrounds, so companies don't care about it, and don't talk about it, because in all honesty, all of those factors are relatively small.

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #85 on: August 09, 2017, 07:18:31 AM »
I'm old enough to know this sort of argument has been cropping up for decades.  What I find most enlightening, beyond the random tidbits like the throwaway statistic about worker deaths by gender, is the "Suggestions" that come at the end.

1.  Stop moralizing Diversity.
If we don't make a moral issue of diversity, then we don't actually have a diversity problem, do we?  The problem exists because we value the idea of everyone being offered a seat at the table.
If you saw starving children arriving at your kids' school every day, would you say, "Let's not moralize this.  Let's determine pragmatically if feeding these children is part of a valid economic model, vis-a-vis how much we get back in taxes and societal benefit."?
No?  Would you just find a way to get them food because you think it's "right" to feed children?
Well, Mr. Damore finds you irrational for "moralizing" starvation.

2.  Stop alienating conservatives.
I see.  I think this is the real "problem" from his point of view.  Unfortunately, I've been around since the 80s, when Rush Limbaugh coined the term "feminazi" and people complained about "reverse sexism".  The language hasn't really changed, and the arguments are no better now than they were then.  (And I think we all agree women were treated poorly then?  And that nay-sayers back then were also blaming either genetics or women's choices?)
What really bothers him is that his "conservative" viewpoints aren't given the privilege they get in other spaces, or other times.

The real problem he's seeing is that reality isn't working out to favour his biases and he's hoping to preserve one last place where the hard core "meritocracy" will put people like himself at the front.

Toque.

Clearly the senior engineer at google with a phD in systems biology from Harvard is a failure and lashing out.

https://sysbio.med.harvard.edu/

"Systems biology is the study of systems of biological components, which may be molecules, cells, organisms or entire species. Living systems are dynamic and complex, and their behavior may be hard to predict from the properties of individual parts. To study them, we use quantitative measurements of the behavior of groups of interacting components, systematic measurement technologies such as genomics, bioinformatics and proteomics, and mathematical and computational models to describe and predict dynamical behavior. Systems problems are emerging as central to all areas of biology and medicine."

That doesn't necessarily qualify him to comment on human behaviour.  This is clearly demonstrated by his use of the term "evolutionary psychology", a branch of research which is basically regarded as nonsense by actual evolutionary biologists.  For the most part, it's people trying to demonstrate that the mores of the era from the Paleolithic to the Idealized 1950s are genetically locked into our brains.  When you read that "science says beards are sexy" in some magazine?  That's evo psych.  It's not well respected, despite the media hype it gets.  Yet many of his opinions clearly have their roots in the latest "evo psych" output.

As an example, the fact that the gentleman who wrote the memo refers to evo psych, and then uses ideas like "giving women part time work because they care about work-life balance" shows that he's missing the point.  The social push for women to have "work-life balance", more so than men, is the *cause* of the problem.  We rarely ask a man how he balances work and a family, but we ask women all the time.  That's something our society does to women, and almost all societies have done to women.

Yet, mysteriously, sometime in the 1950s, the universal, biological fact that women couldn't do math, or couldn't handle the stress of being heart surgeons, went away.  But, before that, it was a universal fact across human cultures that -=mumble mumble hunting spatial awareness=- women couldn't handle numbers and three dimensional thinking.

I don't find his arguments compelling.  No more compelling than the exact same arguments made by radio talk show hosts in the 1980s.  No more compelling than the 18th and 19th century arguments that women were crazy and unreliable because their uteri wandered around their bodies and messed them up.

Toque.

prognastat

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #86 on: August 09, 2017, 07:23:38 AM »
Secondly, diversity does make a difference - it can be quite amazing how much! Often, the part of the project where a miracle is supposed to occur (the bit that hasn't been mapped out because no-one has any idea how it can be done), suddenly is resolved by the diversity element. As someone with more time in IT than I suspect anyone else in this discussion, I have seen everyone bogged down, and along comes a solution - sometimes it was the bloke in the wheelchair, sometimes the quiet woman in the corner. It was rarely the loud-mouths who had dominated discussion, and had interrupted the others during every sentence.

Because all the men are rude loudmouths right? This is exactly what the memo argues against. That diversity where everyone looks different, but thinks exactly the same is not conducive to these innovative solutions. He doesn't say there shouldn't be women, he says they shouldn't be there just because they are women and that google's practices currently are less geared to removing the barriers actually preventing the women that could measure up to google's requirements and instead lower the bar.

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #87 on: August 09, 2017, 07:37:47 AM »
This is a much better response than I have time to craft:

https://medium.com/@yonatanzunger/so-about-this-googlers-manifesto-1e3773ed1788

Basically: the tools that the original memo attributes to women (empathy, cooperation, teamwork etc.) are the real tools of engineering.  Competing, within a workplace, is not a real thing.  In addition, how could a manager at google ever assign this guy a group to work in, especially with women in it?

Toque.

prognastat

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #88 on: August 09, 2017, 07:39:03 AM »
I'm old enough to know this sort of argument has been cropping up for decades.  What I find most enlightening, beyond the random tidbits like the throwaway statistic about worker deaths by gender, is the "Suggestions" that come at the end.

1.  Stop moralizing Diversity.
If we don't make a moral issue of diversity, then we don't actually have a diversity problem, do we?  The problem exists because we value the idea of everyone being offered a seat at the table.
If you saw starving children arriving at your kids' school every day, would you say, "Let's not moralize this.  Let's determine pragmatically if feeding these children is part of a valid economic model, vis-a-vis how much we get back in taxes and societal benefit."?
No?  Would you just find a way to get them food because you think it's "right" to feed children?
Well, Mr. Damore finds you irrational for "moralizing" starvation.

2.  Stop alienating conservatives.
I see.  I think this is the real "problem" from his point of view.  Unfortunately, I've been around since the 80s, when Rush Limbaugh coined the term "feminazi" and people complained about "reverse sexism".  The language hasn't really changed, and the arguments are no better now than they were then.  (And I think we all agree women were treated poorly then?  And that nay-sayers back then were also blaming either genetics or women's choices?)
What really bothers him is that his "conservative" viewpoints aren't given the privilege they get in other spaces, or other times.

The real problem he's seeing is that reality isn't working out to favour his biases and he's hoping to preserve one last place where the hard core "meritocracy" will put people like himself at the front.

Toque.

Clearly the senior engineer at google with a phD in systems biology from Harvard is a failure and lashing out.

https://sysbio.med.harvard.edu/

"Systems biology is the study of systems of biological components, which may be molecules, cells, organisms or entire species. Living systems are dynamic and complex, and their behavior may be hard to predict from the properties of individual parts. To study them, we use quantitative measurements of the behavior of groups of interacting components, systematic measurement technologies such as genomics, bioinformatics and proteomics, and mathematical and computational models to describe and predict dynamical behavior. Systems problems are emerging as central to all areas of biology and medicine."

That doesn't necessarily qualify him to comment on human behaviour.  This is clearly demonstrated by his use of the term "evolutionary psychology", a branch of research which is basically regarded as nonsense by actual evolutionary biologists.  For the most part, it's people trying to demonstrate that the mores of the era from the Paleolithic to the Idealized 1950s are genetically locked into our brains.  When you read that "science says beards are sexy" in some magazine?  That's evo psych.  It's not well respected, despite the media hype it gets.  Yet many of his opinions clearly have their roots in the latest "evo psych" output.

As an example, the fact that the gentleman who wrote the memo refers to evo psych, and then uses ideas like "giving women part time work because they care about work-life balance" shows that he's missing the point.  The social push for women to have "work-life balance", more so than men, is the *cause* of the problem.  We rarely ask a man how he balances work and a family, but we ask women all the time.  That's something our society does to women, and almost all societies have done to women.

Yet, mysteriously, sometime in the 1950s, the universal, biological fact that women couldn't do math, or couldn't handle the stress of being heart surgeons, went away.  But, before that, it was a universal fact across human cultures that -=mumble mumble hunting spatial awareness=- women couldn't handle numbers and three dimensional thinking.

I don't find his arguments compelling.  No more compelling than the exact same arguments made by radio talk show hosts in the 1980s.  No more compelling than the 18th and 19th century arguments that women were crazy and unreliable because their uteri wandered around their bodies and messed them up.

Toque.

He wasn't saying that qualified him to talk on it, though he doesn't need to. Do you have a degree that qualifies you to talk about what systems biology, human behavior and evolutionary psychology along with which is and isn't a valid field for this discussion?

The reason it was brought up to say that this person has had a successful career and probably not someone having a tough time getting by and lashing out due to this.

Instead of saying he is missing the point maybe provide some actual research showing he is wrong. Also your interpretation on the "social push" for women to have a work-life balance is not some kind of fact. It's interesting that in countries with more gender equality actually show larger sex differences in career choice and women actually choose to go in to stem less when their options are more equal not less. I would say there is more of both a biological and social push for men to earn a lot and have a valuable career.

Source:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27100631

So your conclusion that this is something society does to women doesn't follow.

You are still simply asserting stuff and trying to read between the lines rather than address the actual research he has used to back up his memo.

You don't find his memo compelling because you don't want to believe it. You bring up things wholly unrelated to what his memo says instead of actually addressing it leading me to believe there is some serious confirmation bias going on in your responses.

prognastat

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #89 on: August 09, 2017, 07:41:25 AM »
Agreed, please send some of those well-defined software projects my way. Dealing with ambiguity is the only game in town.

FWIW, I read the entire thing and didn't think it was that outrageous. I saw some good points, some not so good points, and some places where I thought he should tread more carefully. It read like a semi-organized stream of consciousness, something you would jot down after thinking about an issue for a while. He bent over backwards to put caveats and nuance in many of his statements, but ultimately people only focused on the couple sentences they could harp on.

Many people have questioned his motives, and why he would spend time putting a 10 page document together on something that's seemingly not his job: that's a tech culture thing. It happens all. the. fucking. time. He could have written 10 pages on the alarm system in the building or the shape of the trays at the cafeteria, and nobody would have batted an eye.

Initially, I thought his bit about conservatives being silenced was far-fetched. Probably because we don't live in a vacuum and this line of argument is usually used by the lunatics who rave about Christian oppression and the War on Christmas. Now that he's been fired over this, I'm not so sure.

Part of me suspects he knew he would be fired and that it would actually lend him more credence on that dissident thoughts are not accepted at google.

prognastat

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #90 on: August 09, 2017, 07:46:18 AM »
This is a much better response than I have time to craft:

https://medium.com/@yonatanzunger/so-about-this-googlers-manifesto-1e3773ed1788

Basically: the tools that the original memo attributes to women (empathy, cooperation, teamwork etc.) are the real tools of engineering.  Competing, within a workplace, is not a real thing.  In addition, how could a manager at google ever assign this guy a group to work in, especially with women in it?

Toque.

First line of said article is already mischaracterizing the original memo, good start:
"You have probably heard about the manifesto a Googler (not someone senior) published internally about, essentially, how women and men are intrinsically different and we should stop trying to make it possible for women to be engineers, it’s just not worth it."

Despite the memo actually arguing for ways to make the job more attractive to more women.

Then proceeds to say hey I'm not actually going to argue the citations he provided that I'm saying are wrong wrong:
"(1) Despite speaking very authoritatively, the author does not appear to understand gender."

"1. I’m not going to spend any length of time on (1); if anyone wishes to provide details as to how nearly every statement about gender in that entire document is actively incorrect,¹ and flies directly in the face of all research done in the field for decades, they should go for it. But I am neither a biologist, a psychologist, nor a sociologist, so I’ll leave that to someone else."

So he is saying the memo writer is wrong, but isn't actually interested in determining why. So either he hasn't looked in to it and has no leg to stand on or he knows he is wrong so he isn't going to attempt to address it in which case it's just a big case of personal PR for the writer.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2017, 07:59:51 AM by prognastat »

bacchi

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #91 on: August 09, 2017, 07:58:26 AM »
It's interesting that in countries with more gender equality actually show larger sex differences in career choice and women actually choose to go in to stem less when their options are more equal not less. I would say there is more of both a biological and social push for men to earn a lot and have a valuable career.

Source:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27100631

So your conclusion that this is something society does to women doesn't follow.

The abstract of the study you linked states:

"Further, although relatively more mothers work in STEM fields in more developed countries, these parents valued, on average, mathematical competence more in their sons than their daughters."

Did you mean a different study?

Freedom2016

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #92 on: August 09, 2017, 07:59:18 AM »
What do you believe is more important of the two? Would someone with amazing technical ability, but sufficient interpersonal skills or someone with sufficient technical ability, but amazing interpersonal skills? If it were me I would prefer the former rather than the latter in software development. Of course you aren't going to hire someone completely incompetent in the interpersonal department. You might be right that once you get high enough up the corporate ladder in software development that the latter becomes the more attractive. However the corporate structure is generally going to be very much like a pyramid and there are going to be a much larger amount of people near the bottom than higher up. If both of these are correct then it would be reasonable to expect that no matter what the former of the two is likely to outnumber the latter.

Then there is also the case generally people need to climb this corporate ladder and are expected to first and foremost excel at their current job before being considered for getting any kind of promotion. So if you are in a situation where the first person is going to perform best at the entry level jobs they are more likely to get to the positions higher up the ladder from that starting point. Now this of course doesn't apply for someone being hired from outside the company, but many people get promoted from inside the company on most levels except for the highest few. Not only that but to get the experience required many would have had to climb the ladder in a significantly similar enough corporation elsewhere to show they have the requisite experience.

The higher you go/get in an organization, the more important the interpersonal/soft skills become. I've worked with a lot of Fortune 100 companies over the last 20 years and I've seen this in action over and over again.

I also teach leadership and negotiation in a master's program in engineering management -- my students are enrolled in this course precisely to learn the soft skills that will position them to advance more quickly into leadership roles in their companies and fields.

Very few STEM-educated men and women ever get academic exposure to soft skill development - it's all about technical knowledge and skills acquisition. And that's certainly what's needed to succeed as an individual contributor early on in one's career. I agree 100% that getting anything done at Google or elsewhere requires far more than technical skills: collaboration, teaming, conflict management skills, etc.

As a general point, diversity (of all kinds) is good for innovation, which in turn is good for a company's bottom line. A Morgan Stanley Sustainability and Global Quantitative Research team study (link https://www.forbes.com/sites/morganstanley/2017/06/23/women-employees-boost-the-bottom-line-for-tech-firms/#30b01e885ad4) of 1600 corporations showed that:
•   Highly gender diverse tech companies returned an average of 5.4 percent more annually than their peers with less gender diversity
•   “More gender equality, particularly in corporate settings, likely corresponds with increased productivity; greater innovation; higher employee retention and better risk management—all critical factors for improving a tech company's odds of staying competitive.”

prognastat

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #93 on: August 09, 2017, 08:01:05 AM »
It's interesting that in countries with more gender equality actually show larger sex differences in career choice and women actually choose to go in to stem less when their options are more equal not less. I would say there is more of both a biological and social push for men to earn a lot and have a valuable career.

Source:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27100631

So your conclusion that this is something society does to women doesn't follow.

The abstract of the study you linked states:

"Further, although relatively more mothers work in STEM fields in more developed countries, these parents valued, on average, mathematical competence more in their sons than their daughters."

Did you mean a different study?

"Most importantly and contra predictions, we showed that economically developed and more gender equal countries have a lower overall level of mathematics anxiety, and yet a larger national sex difference in mathematics anxiety relative to less developed countries."

Freedom2016

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #94 on: August 09, 2017, 08:05:15 AM »
Agreed, please send some of those well-defined software projects my way. Dealing with ambiguity is the only game in town.

FWIW, I read the entire thing and didn't think it was that outrageous. I saw some good points, some not so good points, and some places where I thought he should tread more carefully. It read like a semi-organized stream of consciousness, something you would jot down after thinking about an issue for a while. He bent over backwards to put caveats and nuance in many of his statements, but ultimately people only focused on the couple sentences they could harp on.

Many people have questioned his motives, and why he would spend time putting a 10 page document together on something that's seemingly not his job: that's a tech culture thing. It happens all. the. fucking. time. He could have written 10 pages on the alarm system in the building or the shape of the trays at the cafeteria, and nobody would have batted an eye.

Initially, I thought his bit about conservatives being silenced was far-fetched. Probably because we don't live in a vacuum and this line of argument is usually used by the lunatics who rave about Christian oppression and the War on Christmas. Now that he's been fired over this, I'm not so sure.

Part of me suspects he knew he would be fired and that it would actually lend him more credence on that dissident thoughts are not accepted at google.

I heard on NPR yesterday that Google's promotions/annual eval cycle depends heavily on peer reviews, and that it's possible they fired him b/c of the legal jeopardy they could get into if a person who has publicly vocalized a negative bias about women engineers then evaluates the women engineers he works with.

A Definite Beta Guy

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #95 on: August 09, 2017, 08:24:15 AM »
Agreed, please send some of those well-defined software projects my way. Dealing with ambiguity is the only game in town.

FWIW, I read the entire thing and didn't think it was that outrageous. I saw some good points, some not so good points, and some places where I thought he should tread more carefully. It read like a semi-organized stream of consciousness, something you would jot down after thinking about an issue for a while. He bent over backwards to put caveats and nuance in many of his statements, but ultimately people only focused on the couple sentences they could harp on.

Many people have questioned his motives, and why he would spend time putting a 10 page document together on something that's seemingly not his job: that's a tech culture thing. It happens all. the. fucking. time. He could have written 10 pages on the alarm system in the building or the shape of the trays at the cafeteria, and nobody would have batted an eye.

Initially, I thought his bit about conservatives being silenced was far-fetched. Probably because we don't live in a vacuum and this line of argument is usually used by the lunatics who rave about Christian oppression and the War on Christmas. Now that he's been fired over this, I'm not so sure.

Part of me suspects he knew he would be fired and that it would actually lend him more credence on that dissident thoughts are not accepted at google.

I think the guy thought he wasn't going to get fired. My impression is that Google makes a big show of saying it tolerates diversity, employee ingenuity, dissidence etc. and the author thought that umbrella might protect him. He also probably thought his neutral writing style and attempts to prove his case would also protect him.

Every culture has their shibboleths and part of being a good employee is knowing what not to question. You don't disrupt the company culture, you assimilate to it.

You definitely should be smart enough not to fall for the obvious Hundreds Flowers ploy.

prognastat

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #96 on: August 09, 2017, 08:25:19 AM »
Agreed, please send some of those well-defined software projects my way. Dealing with ambiguity is the only game in town.

FWIW, I read the entire thing and didn't think it was that outrageous. I saw some good points, some not so good points, and some places where I thought he should tread more carefully. It read like a semi-organized stream of consciousness, something you would jot down after thinking about an issue for a while. He bent over backwards to put caveats and nuance in many of his statements, but ultimately people only focused on the couple sentences they could harp on.

Many people have questioned his motives, and why he would spend time putting a 10 page document together on something that's seemingly not his job: that's a tech culture thing. It happens all. the. fucking. time. He could have written 10 pages on the alarm system in the building or the shape of the trays at the cafeteria, and nobody would have batted an eye.

Initially, I thought his bit about conservatives being silenced was far-fetched. Probably because we don't live in a vacuum and this line of argument is usually used by the lunatics who rave about Christian oppression and the War on Christmas. Now that he's been fired over this, I'm not so sure.

Part of me suspects he knew he would be fired and that it would actually lend him more credence on that dissident thoughts are not accepted at google.

I heard on NPR yesterday that Google's promotions/annual eval cycle depends heavily on peer reviews, and that it's possible they fired him b/c of the legal jeopardy they could get into if a person who has publicly vocalized a negative bias about women engineers then evaluates the women engineers he works with.

Except that he heavily qualifies his critique in the memo:
"Note, I’m not saying that all men differ from all women in the following ways or that these
differences are “just.” I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men
and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why
we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership. Many of these differences
are small and there’s significant overlap between men and women, so you can’t say anything
about an individual given these population level distributions."

So there isn't an indication he would judge women any women with a negative bias.

madgeylou

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #97 on: August 09, 2017, 08:28:00 AM »
I guess I just read it more as someone who sincerely wants to help than someone who hates women. I can see how it could be interpreted otherwise if you come with a different perspective.

But it doesn't really matter what his intent was. If I run you over with my car and it's an accident vs. intentional, it matters to the legal system but not to your actual body. Your body is just as broken regardless of my intent.

Same thing with this bozo at Google. Outside of the White House, sexism is usually not as blunt as "I hate women and girls." Much of it is wrapped up in subtly misogynistic ideas like respecting women's differences, wanting to protect women, and assuming women need help with various tasks which we may or may not need help with.

I agree with Scantee entirely. I also believe that there is literally no way to know what the biological differences are between men and women's cognition because there's so much cultural history mixed in and human brains are enormously plastic and molded by our environments and upbringing to an extent that most of us never even contemplate.

So, at this point, with the tools we have, it's not possible to separate them. The only fair position is to operate as though there are no widespread biological differences in cognitive ability, because we simply don't know.

madgeylou

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #98 on: August 09, 2017, 08:37:23 AM »
Speaking as a software engineer myself, I don't think I've once seen a fully-specified set of requirements for a project I've had to work on. I always have to make a few assumptions about things not explicitly listed in the requirements in order to write my code. If I'm lucky, either I or the person reviewing my code will recognize that I've made such an assumption, and will call that out to the PM types for clarification if the assumption seems at all likely to be contrary to the intended project deliverables. Even better is if the gaps in the requirements can be called out before I start typing any code into the computer. Diversity helps here. The more different eyes you can put on things before you go too far down a wrong path, the better.

Wrong again. In a big company, influencing product decisions is < 5% of the job of an engineer, I'd say even < 1%. If the company needs diversity of user viewpoints, they'll hire a diverse QA team (which they do), PM, UX designers, etc. They let engineers discuss products for their own motivation, but engineers have no say in the final product. Even if they hire a team of e.g. 100% Asian male engineers, the team will still perform well; in fact that's almost what happens in SV.

This pro-diversity argument is a big stretch motivated more by PC-ness than optimizing performance (which explains why it's not acted upon by big companies). The argument is very common though, everyone and their mom is parotting it.

And, it's because of folks with viewpoints like this that AIs are inheriting the sexist and racist biases of the non-diverse group of people who are creating them. It's not about PC-ness. It's about having people at the table with different points of view, so that different points of view can be accommodated in the product.

prognastat

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Re: The Viral Internal Google Memo
« Reply #99 on: August 09, 2017, 08:38:28 AM »
I guess I just read it more as someone who sincerely wants to help than someone who hates women. I can see how it could be interpreted otherwise if you come with a different perspective.

But it doesn't really matter what his intent was. If I run you over with my car and it's an accident vs. intentional, it matters to the legal system but not to your actual body. Your body is just as broken regardless of my intent.

Same thing with this bozo at Google. Outside of the White House, sexism is usually not as blunt as "I hate women and girls." Much of it is wrapped up in subtly misogynistic ideas like respecting women's differences, wanting to protect women, and assuming women need help with various tasks which we may or may not need help with.

I agree with Scantee entirely. I also believe that there is literally no way to know what the biological differences are between men and women's cognition because there's so much cultural history mixed in and human brains are enormously plastic and molded by our environments and upbringing to an extent that most of us never even contemplate.

So, at this point, with the tools we have, it's not possible to separate them. The only fair position is to operate as though there are no widespread biological differences in cognitive ability, because we simply don't know.

Except he provided resources showing that it isn't as plastic as you make it out to be. Another person commenting with no actual sources disputing him out of hand rather than actually engaging with the ideas and finding a way to dispute him.