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A Google employee posted a 10-page treatise about bias and people are outraged

August 5, 2017 10:18 PM
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Google employees and Silicon Valley pundits are reacting with outrage to a 10-page document written by a Google engineer that criticizes the company's "left leaning" culture, taking aim at company policies meant to foster a more diverse workplace.

The document, which was first reported by Motherboard and published in full by Gizmodo, was written by a Google engineer and went "viral" inside the company on Friday. The engineer's identity has not been revealed, but he reports to Google VP Ari Balogh, who is listed on Crunchbase as the company's executive VP of storage infrastructure products.

It argues that differences in pay between men and women in the technology sector are not entirely related to bias against women, but are partly attributable to biological differences between the genders. It also called on Google to "stop alienating conservatives" and calls into question practices like "unconscious bias" training for committees that promote employees.

Outside commentators have also criticized the company—for instance, Slack engineer Erica Joy. She called attention to alleged unequal pay for women when she worked at Google, and has been an outspoken critic of systematic bias in the tech industry.

Joy wrote that Google execs should ask themselves, "why is the environment at Google such that racists and sexists feel supported and safe in sharing these views in the company?"

Google recently hired a VP of diversity, Danielle Brown, who wrote a memo on Saturday responding to the document, Recode reports. She wrote that the document "advanced incorrect assumptions about gender" and that "it's not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages."

Google parent company Alphabet pointed to Brown's statement as its official comment on the matter.

The document comes as the company is under investigation by the Department of Labor for paying women less than men.

It also fits into a broader story unfolding in Silicon Valley tech companies this year. Company executives and investors have often claimed tech companies are "meritocracies," where hard work and skill are valued and race and gender are ignored. Yet an increasing number of workers in the industry are coming forward with concrete and specific stories of discrimination and harassment.

Uber was rocked by allegations of pervasive discrimination and harassment against women, beginning with a blog post by former engineer Susan Fowler in February. Her story culminated in the resignation or firing of many top executives, including CEO Travis Kalanick, who stepped aside in June.

More recently, several venture capitalists have left their posts after women accused them of making inappropriate advances in business scenarios.


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