The Whistleblower At Google

(Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)

Suzanne Venker Author and Cultural Critic
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I don’t know if James Damore, the engineer who was fired from Google for daring to point out in a well-reasoned and well-documented company-wide memo that men and women differ biologically and this may play a role in Google’s gender gap, needs anyone to come to his defense. He seems to be doing well despite the backlash that has ensued since he was terminated. But given my experience with gender equality fanatics, I feel compelled to do so.

Mr. Damore is a Harvard graduate who appears to be not only authentic but reasonable, fair and just plain nice. His memo, which you can read in its entirety here, is both honest and courageous.

It also happens to 100% right.

In 2005 Larry Summers, former president of Harvard University, ventured into similar territory and was subsequently forced to apologize.

Unlike Summers, Damore isn’t apologizing. Good.

Damore’s observation that biology plays a role in the different career choices men and women make does not mean, nor did Damore say it meant, that women aren’t capable of working in tech. He simply suggested Google address some of the overlooked reasons why, despite the push to get more women into STEM fields, the number of women remains low.

So what awful things did Damore write? Here’s an example:

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
  • The underlying traits are highly heritable
  • They’re exactly what we would predict from an evolutionary psychology perspective

Note: I’m not saying that all men differ from all women in the following ways or that these differences are “just.” I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership…

Damore also pointed out, rightly so, that women on average show a higher interest in people, while men have a higher interest in things. No truer words were ever spoken! One need only be a parent to a boy and a girl to see the truth in this statement. It isn’t rocket science. This is the reason women choose relationship-oriented jobs at far higher rates than men do.

Damore also added that most men and women don’t work for the same reasons, or with the same fervor or goals. “Women on average look for more work-life balance, while men have a higher drive for status on average.”

That’s why most women continue to choose professions that don’t require as much time or mental energy—despite having all the opportunities in the world to do so. That the women at Google choose a different life doesn’t change this fact.

What makes Damore’s firing even more egregious is that he wasn’t rooting for any one of his observations about the sexes. He only made them to help Google understand the reasons for the gender gap, going so far as to use these reasons to help get more women to the tech table! What’s more, he repeatedly emphasized the phrase “on average” when making his claims, indicating that of course there are exceptions to the rule. But there’s still a rule.

Well, for most reasonable people there’s a rule. There’s not a rule for those committed to a utopian world where men and women are interchangeable beings. We’ve become a culture that desperately needs the equality narrative to work. To suggest it can’t work or it won’t work is blasphemous.

That was the message in this patronizing interview of Damore by Steve Kovach of Business Insider, and in this one with Marty Lasden of Silicon Valley Buzz. For Kovach, Lasden, and their ilk, ideology trumps facts. When you’re committed to an idea you desperately want to be real but isn’t your only recourse is to shoot the messenger. So they did.

But the laugh is on them. Despite his age, Damore held his own and appeared far more intelligent and level-headed than the defensive left-wing media hell-bent on destroying him.

At the end of the day, all James Damore—who has a BS degree is in Molecular Biology, Physics & Chemistry and a MS degree in Systems Biology—did was offer an objective, scientific analysis of why more women aren’t in tech—one that doesn’t presume sexism is the culprit.

“Once we acknowledge that not all differences are socially constructed or due to discrimination, we open our eyes to a more accurate view of the human condition, which is necessary if we actually want to solve problems.”

Indeed. Unfortunately, social justice warriors like those at Google have zero interest in solving problems. On the contrary, they feed off the divide such problems cause—it boosts their ego and gives their life meaning. James Damore saw this and called them out. So they let him go.

James Damore has more courage than all the folks at Google put together. He’ll be fine.

Google I’m not so sure about.