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    People are silhouetted as they pose with laptops in front of a screen projected with a Google logo, in this picture illustration taken in Zenica October 29, 2014.

    Google Employee: 'Male and Female Biological Differences Explain Wage Disparity'

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    An internal Google memo arguing against gender diversity, stating gender disparities at the tech giant were attributable to biological differences between men and women, has provoked outrage among Google staff and the public alike.

    The 10-page document, written by a single male employee in an engineering team, is said to represent his own views alone, but it has been shared within the company widely, and generated supportive responses from coworkers.

    "We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism. Philosophically, I don't think we should do arbitrary social engineering of tech just to make it appealing to equal portions of both men and women. Discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive, and bad for business," the document read.

    ​He went on to claim Google's internal political bias equates freedom from offense with psychological safety, while ignoring the fact that "shaming into silence is the antithesis of psychological safety."

    ​This alleged silencing has created "an ideological echo chamber" where some ideas are "too sacred to be honestly discussed" — the author claims the company takes the "extreme" view that all disparities in representation are due to oppression, and the authoritarian stance that the company should discriminate to correct this.

    "On average, men and women biologically differ in many ways. These differences aren't just socially constructed because; they're universal across human cultures; they often have clear biological causes and links to prenatal testosterone; biological males that were castrated at birth and raised as females often still identify and act like males; underlying traits are highly heritable; they're exactly what we would predict from an evolutionary psychology perspective," the note continued.

    ​He claimed women on average had more openness directed towards feelings and aesthetics rather than ideas, higher "agreeableness" that leads to women generally having a harder time negotiating salary, asking for raises, speaking up and leading, and neuroticism (higher anxiety, lower stress tolerance) that contributes to "higher levels of anxiety" among women working for Google.

    "Humans are generally biased towards protecting females. We have extensive government and Google programs, fields of study, and legal and social norms to protect women, but when a man complains about a gender issue affecting men, he's labelled as a misogynist and whiner. Nearly every difference between men and women is interpreted as a form of oppression," he added.  

    ​He called on the company to "stop alienating" conservatives, as right-leaning staff were a minority at the company that felt the need to "stay in the closet" to avoid open hostility, break down Google staff by political orientation and personality to give a "fuller picture" of how the company's biases were affecting its culture, and end internal "microaggression" training programs, which "incorrectly and dangerously" equate speech with violence.

    The embarrassing exposure comes as the company fights a US Department of Labor investigation into "routine" wage discrepancies between men and women at the search giant. Investigators say the disparity is "extreme even [for the tech] industry," and that they found "systemic" compensation disparities across the "entire workforce."

    The company had previously refused to hand over wage data to the department, only yielding to demands following legal action.

    Google isn't the only major "new economy" player to have been dogged by allegations of sexual discrimination. In February 2017, a former Uber engineer made serious allegations of harassment at the firm's offices, claiming management repeatedly dismissed her complaints, protected a repeat offender and threatened to sack her for raising concerns. ​As a result, at least 20 employees were fired after an internal investigation.

    Open Diversity Data statistics suggest the problem of sexism in tech is industry-wide, however — only 11 percent of Silicon Valley executives and about 20 percent of software developers are women (at Google, only 18 percent of technical employees are women), only five of the world's top 100 tech investors are women, and women in technology earn less than men, by 61 percent on average.

    Related:

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    Tags:
    tech, sexual harassment, sexism, technology, gender gaps, gender discrimination, sexual discrimination, Uber, Google, United States
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