The Google Conundrum

In consideration for the exigency of matters, there cannot be a better time to write about this.

If you search “Google” on Google and click on the News tab right at the top, the number 1 result is most likely an opinion piece on dismissed engineer, James Damore, who drafted a 10-page memo shared across the organization and eventually the whole world.

Forbes published a piece titled “Was Google Right To Fire The Engineer Who Wrote The Anti-Diversity Manifesto,” which in itself is a fundamentally erroneous approach to the subject. It begs the question: “right” in whose perspective? Damore and Google obviously have different views on that.

I went through the memo in a pair of men’s brief and saw premises in which I myself have been a firm believer of, having been shot down on Facebook by one particular friend who took to strawman fallacy to disagree on a point I wasn’t trying to bring across. I don’t believe in suppression and if anything, I support more women being in whichever field they want to; and I wish the same for men.

But the attempt to have exact equal representation of each gender is unrealistic. Not because of any biological differences, but because there’s no perfect 50:50, and creating an artificial environment to fit that mold is only going to amplify gender differences.

Assuming the chance of a coin showing heads up is 50-50, a hundred tosses will not necessarily give you 50 heads and 50 tails. Likewise, if the chance of striking the lottery is 1 in 1,000,000, it doesn’t mean that striking out 999,999 times would indicate the top prize is awaiting at your next purchase.

To see how absurd an imposed 50% representation sounds, say for example, an organization with 99 employees (50 men, 49 women) is intending to hire one more, making it a hundred. To impose a 50% representation of both genders would mean the organization has to reject applications by men, which would be the exact act that goes against the policy’s original purpose. Denying a person’s application simply by virtue of their gender, regardless of whether they are men or women, is the epitome of sexism.

Back in 2012, the translation company I worked at had around 25 employees, 18 of whom were women. But nobody went after HR with a hammer to hire more men because that is just misogynistic. We understood that if among the number of people who applied for the positions, more women fared better at the interviews and have qualifications and ability more suited for the roles, then it is fair that the company had more women.

Below is a screenshot of a post on the same issue I posted on Facebook a year ago.

The Forbes article calls Damore’s memo a “validity of male-superiority,” which I find is itself a highly sexist and biased comment. In the memo, Damore never suggested interest in things is superior over interest in people, which suggests that the writer has an ideological belief the latter is inferior. Calling Damore’s memo “anti-diversity” is just committing another argumentation fallacy. It appears his issue is more with Google’s culture that doesn’t float his boat. And if anything, he was probably pushing more for meritocracy, which doesn’t mean either gender will be less represented unless you believe one gender is inferior to the other.

My stand on the issue is not 100% similar to his as I wouldn’t go so far as to call the female gender more neurotic since I have no evidence to proof either. And I also have no knowledge on whether biological differences based on exposed levels of testosterone can affect a person’s interest over societal influence. But Debra Soh, a PhD holder in sexual neuroscience from York University wrote a piece defending Damore’s premises that science has proven his memo to be correct and this piece should be something noteworthy. Her status and arguments take care of the ethos and logos required to form a sound and convincing argument.

It’s not to say whether I believe either of them or agree with either. I just think it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female as long as you have what the business needs.

There has been and always will be stereotypes because it is the same process scientists go through. It helps humans understand things. You look for a pattern, derive a hypothesis, and it shall hold true as long as there is no evidence to the contrary.

The fact is, it’s pointless mandating a ratio of certain groups of people in any collective because that just reminds us we are different instead. I’ve always looked at my fellow colleagues and teammates as very smart and capable people, not whether they are men or women.

If anything, Google should probably place more effort at eradicating the belief that a person’s blood type determines their personality. That sounds like a bigger bullshit to me.


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