Google diversity row breaks out over engineer's memo

A Google software engineer's memo criticising its diversity initiatives has gone viral within the company after arguing that "psychological differences" explain why women are underrepresented in tech.

The unnamed male employee’s comments were posted on an internal discussion board and published online by tech website Gizmodo

The ten-page memo, "Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber", argues "we need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism". 

He also said men are more frequently found in top leadership positions because "status is the primary metric that men are judged on", while women are more strongly judged by "beauty".

The memo explains: "We always ask why we don’t see women in top leadership positions, but we never ask why we see so many men in these jobs. These positions often require long, stressful hours that may not be worth it if you want a balanced and fulfilling life.

"Status is the primary metric that men are judged on, pushing many men into these higher paying, less satisfying jobs for the status that they entail. Note, the same forces that lead men into high pay/high stress jobs in tech and leadership cause men to take undesirable and dangerous jobs like coal mining, garbage collection, and firefighting, and suffer 93% of work-related deaths."

The controversial comments prompted Google’s head of diversity Danielle Brown to disassociate the company from the comments in an internal email that was published by tech website Motherboard later that evening on 5 August.

Brown wrote: "We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company, and we'll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul."

Google was accused of "extreme" gender pay discrimination by the US labour department as part of a lawsuit earlier this year.

Subscribe today for just $116 a year

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to , plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a subscriber


Don’t miss your daily fix of breaking news, latest work, advice and commentary.

register free