Peter Singer thinks Google is in the wrong here, but what does he know about ethics anyway? He's probably an alt-right misogynist.
Why Google was wrong: Did James Damore really deserve to be fired for what he wrote?
PETER SINGER AUG 10, 2017 8:56 AM
James Damore, a software engineer at Google, wrote a memo in which he argued that there are differences between men and women that may explain, in part, why there are fewer women than men in his field of work. For this, Google fired him.
Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, sent Google employees a memo saying that “much of what was in that memo is fair to debate,” but that portions of it cross a line by advancing “harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”
Pichai did not specify which sections of the memo discussed issues that are fair to debate, and which portions cross the line. That would have been difficult to do, because the entire memo is about whether certain gender stereotypes have a basis in reality.
Damore argues that there is evidence to show that women, when compared to men, tend to:
-be more interested in people
-be less interested in analyzing or constructing systems
-have higher anxiety and lower tolerance of stress
-have a lower drive for status
-be more interested in balancing life and work
Damore is careful to point out that the evidence for these claims does not show that all women have these characteristics to a higher degree than men. He says that many of these differences are small, that there is significant overlap between men and women, and that “you can’t say anything about an individual given these population level distributions.” He shows this with a graph, too. He says that to reduce people to their group identity is bad.
There is scientific research supporting the views Damore expresses. There are also grounds for questioning some of this research. In assessing Google’s action in firing Damore, it isn’t necessary to decide which side is right, but only whether Damore’s view is one that a Google employee should be permitted to express.
I think it is. First, as I’ve said, it is not some twisted, crazy view. There are serious articles, published in leading peer-reviewed scientific journals, supporting it.
Second, it addresses an important issue. Google is rightly troubled by the fact that its workforce is largely male. Sexism in many areas of employment is well-documented. Employers should be alert to the possibility that they are discriminating against women, and should take steps to prevent such discrimination. Some orchestras now conduct blind auditions — the musician plays from behind a screen, so that those making the appointment do not know if they are listening to a man or a woman. That has led to a dramatic increase in the number of women in orchestras. More businesses should look at the possibilities of similarly blinding themselves, when hiring, to the gender of applicants.
But once such anti-discrimination measures have been taken, to the greatest extent feasible, does the fact that a workforce in a particular industry is predominantly male prove that there has been discrimination? Not if the kind of work on offer is likely to be attractive to more men than to women.
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