The infamous manifesto from the (now former) Google employee has made its round on the internet. It alleges an ideological ecochamber and overly commitment to diversity on the work place, as well as reverse discrimination and the alike. He claims that the inequalities are not necessarily due to discrimination but presumably biological differences.
When he says things like that - especially when he spreads these ideas, he actively supports a culture already existing, where women are vastly underrepresented - without making a proper case of why. It's not just because they're uninterested or stupid, as is what seems to stand as implication of his manifesto, no, it is because of a deeper issue with tech culture and possibly discrimination. When a women joins a tech company, or even just a FOSS project, they are met with either disdain for their work, or overly praise - being exactly a form of disdain, cause it assumes that the work is indeed lesser just because they are a woman. These elements are toxic, and completely unrelated to the competences of women in tech. Furthermore, there is an educational aspect to it. Fewer women choose this path exactly because of such culture.
What he claims is that these problems are mainly caused not by this culture nor discrimination of any sort, but because women are supposedly just naturally either worse or less interested at tech. It is worded really weakly. He goes out of his way to make sure it doesn't seem like he's saying that by adding "in some cases", "often" etc., but it is essentially what the underlying message is.
The assumption that women are less interested in tech and programming seems like a very weak one to make, since virtually all programmers were women. Not many seem to know this, but programming was originally seen as a "woman's thing" because of its "trivial nature". This changed over a few decades, which is very odd if it is not a cultural change. If their interest in computing was entirely biological, the only explanation would be that the biological nature of women has changed over a decade or two, which is obviously nonsense.
Note that such cultural changes are not necessarily only within the tech culture, but larger culture as well. As the subject began to be seen less and less feminine, it became less and less woman-dominated.
As for ideological diversity, I don't believe in it. Some opinions are just not welcome in a work place - or in general. I know conservatives will cry over this, but I don't find their unwelcoming and unaccepting altitude wanted nor welcome in a working place. I don't believe their comfort is more important than diversity or the comfort of minorities. In the end, they are more-or-less a majority in tech (not necessarily directly conservative, but conservative and reactionary altitudes in general).
In the end of the day, there is one right stance and one or more wrong. Ideological diversity means that you have both of such stances, which is a showcase of the modern fake-neutrality cancer spreading into every aspect of communication. Suddenly, all sides no matter how incoherent or wrong shall have representation in all media (both classical and modern). You get this nonsense of an 'expert' panel with a climate change scientist and a denier. It is exactly the same thing happening here: By promoting ideological diversity, you promote not taking an active stance on issues, which are absolutely critical to the general company culture, let alone tech culture. And this very thing of not taking a stance fosters the toxic culture we have today, because it is a stance itself, as I will come back to.
The conclusion must be that the fireing was entirely justified, as a response against such sentiment in the working place, as it actively obstructs working relations and professionalism. Even though it might seem like an unjust against the freedom of speech. Freedom of speech, as a non-juridical principle, has inherent contradictions, where you are forced to pick a side.
Suppose you're transgender, and every day, you hear how you're worth less because you're trans, and how you are crazy and stupid etc. It is only natural for you to not voice your opinion, because you feel like it's worth less, cause you're trans, at best you are simply ignored, at worst, however, you are harassed for it. The implication is that you are effectively silenced from speaking. It is no different from being fired for the toxic altitudes, the end result is the same: your voice is silenced.
This is the time you have to choose: Do you support freedom of speech for the bigots, or freedom of speech for the minorities? Unfortunately, you cannot have both, because the two are fundamentally contradicting, fundamentally incompatible. Freedom of speech absolutism is a intrinsically inconsistent point of view, cause you will always pick a side.
Words can harm people. In fact, I often hear this from people, who are advocating for the freedom of speech of the bigots, namely that being called "racist" silences them and the debate. Even they accept that words harm people, in a sense. Why would bigotry be an exception to this? Words have more power than people often thing. They are more than mere letters and sounds, they affect culture and society by large. In fact, they might just be one of the most powerful constructions humans have made. They affect every thought, every sentiment, everything. Words may well be stronger than violent force; they certainly do have more power than such force. That is not to say that words can directly kill a person, but that words have a power to govern culture, silence people, even incite and cause acts of violence.
Not taking side with the minority, means you're not taking side with the weak. You're not protecting who ought to be protected. There is nothing revolutionary in saying you are in the middle, no, you simply continueing the status quo. In other words, you actively side with the majority against the minority. I hate to reduce this to a two-sided issue, but some issues just are. The implication is exactly that.
The tech culture is already highly toxic, which could explain why there is so few women in it. It is - by large - a very excluding culture, meaning that the voices are very undiverse, so the state of "freedom of speech" if you will is very poor. There are people excluded from speaking as an implication of the culture.
For the point about affirmative action and similar, I suggest you to read Leslie G. Carr's "Color-Blind Racism", which is applicable to sex as well. The essence is that you cannot be color-blind in a colored system, as such behavior would only act to affirm the system. Ignoring differences in e.g. sex isn't going to solve the issues, it will only make it worse, because it obstructs efforts to breaking the spiral of less and less diversity.
I know this is controversial, but I want to end by saying that I fully support the fireing of this man; an action many see as very unjust and an outright attack of free speech. I think it is reasonable, no, fair of Google to do.
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