‘Thought Bullies’ or Right Move: A Divide Over James Damore Firing

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Google on Monday fired an employee, James Damore, over an internal memo he wrote that questioned the company’s diversity efforts and claimed that women were less likely to succeed in technical positions because of biological differences rather than gender discrimination.

New York Times readers reacted to Mr. Damore’s ouster with thousands of comments on the newspaper’s website and in social media posts responding to articles about the firing, about the impact of his memo within the industry and about its cultural and political ramifications. Comments have been condensed and edited for spelling and grammar.

‘40 years of women in the workplace isn’t going to undo centuries of ingrained attitudes of subordination’

Women in technical positions believed sexism was the reason for a lack of diversity in the industry and spoke of their own experiences with discrimination.

As a woman who has worked in IT for over 15 years, I have been sexually harassed, put up with denigrating comments from my male colleagues, been excluded from “bonding” and networking events where my female presence would have undermined their fun guys’ night out on the company dime at cigar bars, strip clubs or pub crawls.

As Americans, we’d like to think we’ve risen above the discriminatory attitudes of the past, but 40 years of women in the workplace isn’t going to undo centuries of ingrained attitudes of subordination. Sexism is still as alive and well as it always has been. There are just new ways and old ways of rationalizing it.

N in Boston

Not only am I good at math, I love it. I can’t fully describe how math makes me feel. It makes me feel awesome and empowered. I looked for work for three and a half years in my field. Now I’m a glorified secretary in a hospital. I don’t get to do any math as part of my job. Tell me again how reinforcing ideas about women’s inherent differences is a valid opinion that deserves my respect and time. Tell me again that my frustration is neuroses and probably PMS. Tell me again.

Hanna in Richmond, Va.

‘With his firing, this opportunity to open his eyes is lost’

Some female readers in the technology industry criticized Google for firing Mr. Damore; others supported his arguments.

I am a female scientist. I know why women do not succeed at the same levels as men in science fields and it is not because we are neurotic. It’s because we are the ones who bear and nurse children, and day care is expensive.

Firing a man who expresses his opinion that there are so few women in tech is because they are inherently incapable of succeeding in tech only gives fodder to those who feel men are being pushed aside so women can succeed. With his firing, this opportunity to open his eyes is lost.

Cm Terry in Salt Lake City

As a female software developer, I also believe that Mr. Damore has a right to present his arguments. I will go so far as to say that some of them are correct and that I see those traits in myself. Maybe we don’t need to go around pretending that every human is just the same, and maybe if we can accept the differences, we can move forward to finding a place for “feminine” behavior within the IT community.

Barbara in New Jersey

‘Google was right to fire him for violating its policies’

Many readers suggested that Mr. Damore’s error was writing his memo on a company computer on company time.

Actually, he’s not protected within the company as an employee using company time and computers. And Google was right to fire him for violating its policies.

Anne in Jersey City, N.J.

That employee exercised his free speech. The company exercised their right to fire an employee who contributed to a hostile workplace.

Cynthia Peterson, via Facebook

Everyone has the right to their own backward, sexist, racist views, but when you utilize company property and resources to spread those views in violation of company policy you are likely to be disciplined and/or terminated.

Sammy in Florida

‘They’re a bunch of thought bullies’

Some readers thought Google stymied Mr. Damore’s attempt to openly discuss his viewpoints.

Anyone who questions the politically correct orthodoxy, whether on race, sex, climate change, etc., is derided as a bigot, a boor or worse. It’s true he had no First Amendment protection, but shame on Google. They’re a bunch of thought bullies.

Paul in Dallas

So much for allowing employees to openly discuss their opinions. This is what true discrimination and intolerance looks like.

Brian Paul, via Facebook

Google missed an opportunity to engage this guy (who is the tip of an iceberg in Silicon Valley, which is just as libertarian as it is leftist) and discuss openly why his claims were simplistic.

JDS in Denver

‘He’s probably unaccustomed to earning his way to a seat at the table. He’s always had it.’

Other readers believed Mr. Damore was a victim of his own privilege.

As an employee of privilege, he’s probably unaccustomed to earning his way to a seat at the table. He’s always had it. Fortunately, in a meritocracy, privilege is something you earn. And what better way to demonstrate it than by firing an utterly clueless person who doesn’t demonstrate the skills required at Google.

Halley in Seattle

Mr. Damore is not a biologist yet felt privileged enough to speak like an expert on the subject.

@doyle1020, via Twitter

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Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/10/technology/google-james-damore-memo-commentary.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Author: blufeed

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