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Sexism at Google?

The Economist just wrote a wonderful “detailed, ringing rebuttal” to the former Google employee who circulated a sexist message internally, but which leaked out and caused a big kerfuffle (and got him fired).

Even if you are tired of that story, this is definitely worth a read. It is both serious, while also dripping with delicious sarcasm.



  1. Hassan wrote:

    I think if the guy had stuck with the point about google and many company being echo chamber and not having or open to conservative voices, he may have more success.

    My problem has been there is no consistency, and it is always the conservative people at receiving end. So Mozilla guy Brendan Eich, never said or did anything remotely hostile at work place, and just donated money privatel for a cause that he felt was matching his morals, was forced to resign (before he could get fired). Can I fire someone from my company that donates to planned parenthood or for gay marriage without being taken legal action? (I do understand boycott, people are free to boycott).

    Also from his sexism point of view, here are some scientists:

    I am not expert in it, so I cant comment on it. Although I am very much expert in software development, and I can tell it is very hard to find good men programmers let alone women. Most write crappy code that violate every software design principle and best clean code practices.

    Saturday, August 19, 2017 at 10:58 am | Permalink
  2. Dave, TN wrote:

    He resigned, possibly due to twitter pressure and possibly due to working co ditions. Who knows for sure but if he believed in his convictions so much he should gave stuck by his guns and forced the board to remove him. So in conclusion he apparantly did not believe in what he contributed to that much. If the company bows to pressure from its consumers then so be it, that is the capitalistic way. If the people that oppose gay marriage were that convinced in there cause and appreciated his donation so much they should have stepped up in his defense and started their own web response.
    Good conversation even on rhe web counts for more than posting doctored fake photos supporting their cause.
    Just sayin’

    Saturday, August 19, 2017 at 11:15 am | Permalink
  3. Hassan wrote:

    DAVE, TN, liberals use capitalism, or government force whatever they can to make their morality forced down on others.

    I asked a question, can I fire someone who writes pro-abortion, or donates to pro-gay cause without legal issues?

    Saturday, August 19, 2017 at 2:40 pm | Permalink
  4. Iron Knee wrote:

    There is no answer to that question other than “it depends”. It depends on the state your company is in, their labor laws, whether the person you fire can prove that you did it because he supported some group (and whether that group is protected), and a million other things.

    Saturday, August 19, 2017 at 2:58 pm | Permalink
  5. bobsuruncle wrote:

    Hassan, if I may, do you feel that it should be legal to not hire or promote because of their religion? How about offering housing, should I legally be able to decide who, based on ethnicity, who can live in my rentals?
    How about what is right? Moving beyond what is legal, do you think the above discrimination is right? Is it okay, from your personal view point to not rent to an unwed mother of 4? Morally, should it be okay to let a gay teenage who tried to commit suicide to die on the operating table because you don’t agree with their lifestyle?

    It’s been a rough week for me, but it has further driven the clear divide in my mind of how we should treat one another. When we, as a society, are actively breaking one another instead of supporting and building, it hurts us all.

    Do you want to have a grandaughter who gets groped at work, but can’t report it because she’ll get fired? Should your sons be assaulted because they may or may not be from this country?

    That’s what it comes down to for me. Me, i get it. I know, based on social studies and data that when we pay women equitible pay, it makes a better company. When we don’t stifle speach, that better ideas can come out. That’s not to say that when someone says women are wired different and not in a way to succeed at coding, they shouldn’t be called out. I think Google had an opportunity to show that it’s company culture is stronger than a backwards thinker.

    It seems obscene and horrific how many people don’t understand that the right to swing their arm ends at another’s nose. That when we reduce someone’s rights, we reduce all our rights.

    Sunday, August 20, 2017 at 7:47 am | Permalink
  6. bobsuruncle wrote:

    And when I say me, I get it, I am referring to that fact that it is just my opinion, not that I KNOW everything or should be looked at as an authority.

    Sunday, August 20, 2017 at 7:50 am | Permalink
  7. Hassan wrote:

    BOBSURUNCLE, if you read my words carefully, I have not talked about hiring or firing for someone’s religion or anything. In fact I personally would not fire (unlike google) anyone whether they are liberals or conservatives or whatever causes they contribute to.

    I am asking very specifically that if it is legal for someone to be fired because they fund one cause (conservative), then it should be in same state (as IK pointed out) legal to fire someone for funding another cause (liberal).

    To say women are not wired differently is also quite an understatement, and goes against million of years of human experience. Anyone who has wife/sister/mother/daughter can attest to it, and treating them as men/boys is disservice to them. Whether that difference can affect their programming skills, I do not know.

    Sunday, August 20, 2017 at 8:03 am | Permalink
  8. Dave, TN wrote:

    Hassan, I can’t answer your legality query not knowing your location and all the details of if you did.
    But I do have a question of my own. As in this case you referred about Mozilla, I suspect he was encouraged to leave by the board even though they claim otherwise for purposes to protect the bottom line. Would you when faced with a revolt of your customer base consider pushing a manager out the door? In short which is your more pressing concern, would ignore the behavior and risk your business or encourage them to leave to protect your assets.

    Sunday, August 20, 2017 at 8:35 am | Permalink
  9. bobsuruncle wrote:

    Hassan, in many states, we are in a right to work situation. Outside of protected reasons, you can fired for no cause, perfectly legal.

    the notion that we are wired different is akin to saying that different colors of skin make us racially different. We are the same race, same species. Variations in all the population exist, but I think if you look at physiology, that you’d find we are all pretty similar. Society may train us to act and react different, but most everything is shared species wide.

    It confuses me to hear that you would not fire someone who held a different view than yours, but in previous posts support denying services based on personal opinion. I’m trying to wrap my head around that, as I have several family members that exhibit similar contradictory views in my mind.

    Sunday, August 20, 2017 at 10:20 am | Permalink
  10. Hassan wrote:

    DAVE, TN: My question is about legality only. If Mozilla can fire (encouraged to resign before get fired) someone for whatever reasons (economic backlash etc), then Mozilla should be able to do same (if needed) to someone doing exactly opposite.

    Sunday, August 20, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Permalink
  11. Hassan wrote:

    BOBSURUNCLE, equating one unrelated thing to another by liberals is why I ended up Republican. Saying gender is same as race goes against common sense, history, and surprisingly science as well. Anyone with mother/daughter/sister and specially wife can attest to it. And there is nothing wrong with it. So for example I see in many places special parking for expectant mothers, but not fathers. That is beautiful and perfectly fine discrimination against men. If it was for liberal standards, we must treat both equally at all cost. Justice is what is appropriate, not equality in everything. Prophet Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him was asked by a man, who has the most rights over me. He said, your mother. Then the man asked who next, he answered again your mother. Then the man asked who next, he (Muhammad) answered again your mother. Then who next, and he said your father.

    And as far as your confusion goes, perhaps the day your confusion gets cleared, you will become conservative. Let me summarize it for your better understanding:

    1. Private life/matters of my employees is none of my business at work. Now if a gay employee invites me to his gay wedding, I will refuse, a straight wedding I will attend (generally).

    2. A gay man approaches my software company to make software for his product idea, let’s say educational software, I will be more than happy to do so. So I am not denying my services to him because he is gay (most likely I wont even know, unless it becomes apparent).

    3. A straight man approaches me to make software for gambling, bank, porn etc, I will refuse. Notice I refused services to a straight man.

    I hope that helps.

    Sunday, August 20, 2017 at 2:39 pm | Permalink
  12. bobsuruncle wrote:

    Hassan, I am not trying to equate unrelated things. I did not say that men and women are the exact same, but science does show that we are pretty darn similar, no matter how closely you look. And seemingly different simply because of cultural adaptations in many ways.

    I would suggest that you might break out the internet search and look up some of this. The old books (no matter which one you choose) are a little, how to say delicately, misgiven about the science of people.

    I will admit to being a liberal. I firmly believe in equality. I believe in conservation of our lands and resources. I believe that social benefits allow our society to be better than capitalism rule. I guess some of my confusion comes from the fact that I don’t see gay people as inferior. Gay people are not a “them” to me. For example, if a man came to me and asked me to make a cake for his wedding, why would I care if it was to a man or a woman? If a woman came to me, same thing- I don’t equate them as being a gay man or a straight woman. It has no bearing on my life, and is just baggage.

    just my $0.02

    peace be unto you

    Sunday, August 20, 2017 at 6:54 pm | Permalink
  13. Iron Knee wrote:

    I guess you didn’t read the linked article, Hassan, because it discusses the lack of evidence that men are better coders than women.

    However, a better argument is that there are definitely some women who are better coders than most men, and so it would seem prudent for any company that wants to be successful to find the best programmers, and do things to recruit them, regardless of sex. Which includes having a workplace where women are not harassed or treated poorly. If you don’t agree with this, then it seems like there is more than one person who has some confusion that needs clearing.

    The question is not whether women are the same as men. The only relevant question is that makes any difference in this situation.

    The Mozilla situation was tricky because a large number of their programmers said they would quit if Brendan Eich remained in charge. They had a business decision to make. Personally, I wish they had not “encouraged him to leave”.

    But in the Google case, I don’t think there was any ambiguity. The guy was being a troll. He was wearing a “Goolag” T-shirt and purposely causing problems at work, including saying things against a protected group. And as a result was costing his (now former) employer millions of dollars. Even if he was the most productive programmer in the company, he was not worth the cost. I would have fired him in a minute. I would do the same thing if he was a liberal and doing the equivalent.

    Sunday, August 20, 2017 at 7:02 pm | Permalink
  14. Hassan wrote:

    Iron Knee, nowhere I said that women cant be as good programmers as men, perhaps they can be better as they are different then men. Also the whole point of diversity is to have “diversity”. If 100% of men can achieve same thing as 50% men, 50% women, or 100% women, then there is no point.

    Sunday, August 20, 2017 at 7:15 pm | Permalink
  15. Iron Knee wrote:

    You said yourself that it is hard to find good programmers. Why would you ignore half of all potential programmers to hire? That makes no sense. As well as being discriminatory and hurtful.

    Sunday, August 20, 2017 at 7:19 pm | Permalink
  16. Hassan wrote:

    Iron Knee, the google guy was wearing a goolag T-shirt after being fired. I agree as a business owner I will get rid of people that will cause harm to my business, but I will not pretend having open environment like google. It is like Saudi Arabia who suppresses freedom of speech and never pretends to be champion of free speech vs France (or most of europe) that champions freedom of speech but in reality only champions approved free speech.

    Sunday, August 20, 2017 at 7:19 pm | Permalink
  17. Hassan wrote:

    Iron Knee, please read everything again, I never talked about substance of his assertions, I am always talking about meta information, rather than information itself. And my point was what business can get away in one way or another (liberal morality vs conservative morality).

    I will always hire the best person to do the job, from business point of view, I would not care about fake diversity, if I can get 100% women, or 100% men.

    Sunday, August 20, 2017 at 7:24 pm | Permalink
  18. Iron Knee wrote:

    Hassan, I work at Google, and they have one of the most open work environments I have ever seen. They tolerate big differences of opinion, unless those differences are illegal or hurtful to other employees (which you could make a reasonable case is true here).

    To be honest, what pisses me off the most is that this incident may force Google to back off their openness a bit.

    Normally, what would have happened at Google in a case like this is that he would have posted his opinion, and other people would have written rebuttals, pointing out the many flaws in his opinion. And after that life would have gone on. This happens all the time at Google because it really is a very open environment.

    In fact, the first thing I did when I heard about this was go read the original memo. It may have errors, but it didn’t seem like something bad enough to get someone fired, maybe a little reprimand.

    The problem in this case was the memo leaked out, which it should not have been. And that’s when the problems started. Both sides (and I don’t think this is a false equivalence, I really do mean both sides) stopped actually communicating with each other, and started saying stupid things just to rile people up. You know, because conflict sells more newspapers. It is the sad state of our media. Conflict sells.

    There are other ways he was being an asshole and he has been an asshole in the past. His behavior since being fired shows that he is acting like a troll.

    There is no law or morality that requires you to not fire an asshole, especially if he is costing your company a hell of a lot of money, hurting its reputation, etc. If an employee of yours said something that cost your company millions of dollars, and had your investors threatening to stop giving you any more money if you didn’t fire that employee, you would do the same thing, I’m absolutely sure.

    Sunday, August 20, 2017 at 7:35 pm | Permalink
  19. Wildwood wrote:

    Hassan, “So for example I see in many places special parking for expectant mothers, but not fathers. That is beautiful and perfectly fine discrimination against men. If it was for liberal standards, we must treat both equally at all cost.” I can’t tell you how much I disagree with this statement. If this is true, then I guess I’m going to have to rethink my liberal standards bonafides. Unfortunately, I don’t actually know too many liberals except my son, but in my mind, no liberal would think what you suggest. I would hope that common sense would be the goal in most instances, and that doing good for people would be targeted to those who need it. When men start getting pregnant, then we can have another discussion.

    Monday, August 21, 2017 at 8:46 am | Permalink