After writing a 10-page memo that depicted Google Inc.’s approach to a diverse culture as an “echo chamber” that “fosters the most extreme and authoritarian elements,” senior software engineer James Damore has been fired from Google, according to Bloomberg.
After the memo circulated internally on Friday, Google employees sent it to media and the story caught fire in U.S. media over the weekend. On Monday, Google CEO Sundar Pichar responded with a memo of his own saying that Google’s Code of Conduct had been violated by Damore’s memo, because of it “advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”
Damore says he’s exploring his legal options following his termination. But he won’t have to be worried about being unemployed for long, as Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has offered him a job in a series of tweets.
In the memo, Damore states that women have “a stronger interest in people rather than things” and that they “prefer jobs in social or artistic areas.” It also explains that women aren’t often seen in executive positions because men are more driven by the need for higher social status.
The memo also argues that Google’s internal culture is biased towards considering its gender gap sexist, arguing that what is considered sexism is explained by biological factors.
The event was a test for Google’s newly-hired Vice-President of Diversity, Danielle Brown. In a memo sent out on Friday, she says Damore’s memo has incorrect assumptions about gender and that Google will continue to stand for diversity and be committed to it for the long haul.
“Strong stands elicit strong reactions. Changing a culture is hard, and it’s often uncomfortable,” she wrote. “Part of building an open, inclusive environment means fostering a culture in which those with alternative views, including different political views, feel safe sharing their opinions. But that discourse needs to work alongside the principles of equal employment found in our Code of Conduct, policies and anti-discrimination laws.”
Google has not publicly confirmed Damore as the author behind the memo. At first his identity was not publicly known, as journalists thought it best to not disclose it given certain threats made against Damore in the online backlash to the memo’s contents.