6
   

White Women vs Free Speech: And Google is going to get sued.

 
 
maxdancona
 
  -2  
Reply Mon 14 Aug, 2017 12:05 pm
@firefly,
It is a fact that the NIH (a reputable science organization) has published peer reviewed articles about gender differences in cognitive abilities.

Yes, you found a single article from the APA that says exactly what you want to hear. And, you can probably find a few more if you spend a little time googling. How many articles in your google search did you either simply not click, or ignore once you started reading them. I found the opposite argument... but then I decided it wouldn't even be worth it to jump into a google war (they never prove anything).

I am not an expert in Neuroscience... I form my opinions by trying to look at what the experts are publishing. I give weight to where they are being published, and whether the organizations are reputable. Peer review is a big deal in science. But this argument is for the scientists. That being said, it is clear that scientists are publishing results showing cognitive differences. There can be a disagreement in science before questions are answered by experiment, and the extent to which this question has been answered. But it is clear that scientists are publishing papers to suggest cognitive differences.

I keep saying that I don't think the science is relevant to this discussion. I am by no means defending the guy's science in this article. I am arguing for his freedom of expression, not his science.







firefly
 
  5  
Reply Mon 14 Aug, 2017 12:15 pm
@maxdancona,
Code:I am arguing for his freedom of expression, not his science.

Too bad you ignored the link Drew Dad posted, from a very reputable source, clearly explaining that this employee had no legal rights to support his "freedom of expression". Which also should protect Google from any legal action by him.

There is no legitimate legal basis for arguing that Google--or any private company-- should have allowed such "freedom of expression" if they considered it detrimental to the overall work environment.

But, you're not one to allow facts to interfere with your ideological reasoning.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  5  
Reply Mon 14 Aug, 2017 12:18 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
I am arguing for his freedom of expression, not his science.

But he did freely express himself. And then he paid the consequence of freely expressing himself.

Instead of crying about how unfair the world is to him, should you, dunno, be cheering his heroic sacrifice? Shouldn't you be emulating him? I strongly encourage you to do so.
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  5  
Reply Mon 14 Aug, 2017 01:56 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

Quote:
Damore did not make a "rather mild" assertion when he stated the women are biologically inferior programmers and managers, he grossly violated Google's employee conduct rules.


This is a key statement. If this is true, then I accept your argument. However, this seems like this is a subjective interpretation. Whether this is a "rather mild assertion" or a gross violation of employee conduct rules is a judgement that has been made by Google. Many Google employees, including women, disagree with this judgement.


But if many women agree with this judgement, then Google is faced with a situation where it must protect its workplace. You can't point to a subset of women and say "well, then that's fine." I don't know that anyone has polled the entire workforce, but then again, Google is in a bind. "Quick poll for the women programmers out there. 1) Do you find it insulting that your coworker believes are you inferior at your job because you were born a woman? 2) Would such beliefs from your coworkers make it more difficult to effectively preform your work?" Can you imagine the response to such a poll? I get that some women might find it a challenge to "show" this guy, but if a majority or even a significant minority of employees had a real problem with this, Google would have to take action. The reason companies have an employee code of conduct is to take the emotion out of this. "This is our expectation. Violate it at your peril."

maxdancona wrote:

Quote:
Others have said "what if you substitute 'black' for women" and you've responded that is unfair. From a free speech point of view, it is completely fair and equivalent. If you belief that odious speech towards women is protected, why is odious speech towards minorities not protected? You could almost rewrite it line for line citing "research" that shows inherent differences between races. (Anyone remember The Bell Curve?)


I don't want to get into the position of arguing the science of this guy. My argument here is about freedom of expression... not about science.

Exactly, so you fully support someone's right to say minorities are genetically inferior to whites and so should not be programmers or managers? Regardless of what research is out there, dubious or otherwise, this is a freedom of expression issue, right?

maxdancona wrote:
I do think it is a problem that White women have eclipsed the needs of racial minority.

That has nothing to do with free speech and you were wise to start a new thread. The question you originally posed is should this be protected free speech. I answer no. Google doesn't have to tolerate racist or sexist behavior in the workplace even under California's labor laws protecting political beliefs. By using Google's systems and posting his screed on Google's internal systems for all his coworkers to see, he made this "in the workplace". Had he gone on some alt-right chat board and done the same, he'd probably be fine as long as he didn't act on his beliefs in the workplace. He put himself out there in a way that Google couldn't ignore.
maxdancona
 
  -2  
Reply Mon 14 Aug, 2017 02:32 pm
@engineer,
Quote:
But if many women agree with this judgement, then Google is faced with a situation where it must protect its workplace. You can't point to a subset of women and say "well, then that's fine.".


This is a valid point. Google is in a bind. I am not sure what the phrase "must protect its workplace" entails, or if I agree with it. But yes, if female employees are feeling upset or threatened, Google should address this. This may mean something other than firing the guy. I might note that I have never worked for Google (and I don't think anyone else here has either), and that the information we are getting out of Google is coming through our political filters.

Quote:
Do you find it insulting that your coworker believes are you inferior at your job because you were born a woman?


I think that you are way off base on this. You are wording the question to make it as offensive as possible... the memo didn't actually say that. The question the memo addressed is why are there more men than women in tech jobs... his answer was "because on average men have traits that make them more suited for tech jobs". He never said that his female co-workers were inferior (you can believe that there are more Germans that are good engineers than Scotsmen... that doesn't mean that the 20% of Scotsmen you know aren't equal to the Germans as engineers).

I think you are twisting his words to make a political point.

You may still find what he said to be offensive. But he didn't say what you are trying to make him say.
0 Replies
 
Sarararah
 
  2  
Reply Tue 15 Aug, 2017 02:21 am
@emmett grogan,
Totally agree with you. Use a sentence to conclude the whole story.
0 Replies
 
oralloy
 
  -1  
Reply Tue 15 Aug, 2017 07:11 am
@DrewDad,
DrewDad wrote:
Max consistently misrepresents everyone else as holding extreme positions, while attempting to represent himself as reasonable.

No misrepresentation there. I just skimmed the thread and the only person here who offered any reasonable responses to Max's points was Engineer.

The rest of you guys reminded me of past threads where I had pointed out facts that one or another of you really didn't like hearing. The antics by various posters here in this thread resembled the antics of the same posters back then in those past threads.

You have my sympathies Max. I'll go try to give you a reasoned response in your Trump/racism thread to make up for the disappointment of this thread. (Although I probably won't take up the argument full time until after the eclipse.)
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Tue 15 Aug, 2017 07:20 am
@oralloy,
I second this.

I appreciate Engineer's ability to argue a point reasonably, to consider the points made, and to respond intelligently.
0 Replies
 
firefly
 
  3  
Reply Tue 15 Aug, 2017 04:43 pm
A well thought-out, and informative, appraisal of Damore's memo.
Quote:

Author: Megan Molteni and Adam Rogers
The Actual Science of James Damore’s Google Memo
08.15.17

In early August, a Google engineer named James Damore posted a document titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” to an internal online discussion group. His memo was a calm attempt to point out all the ways Google has gone wrong in making gender representation among its employees a corporate priority. And then, on August 5, the memo jumped the fence. Nobody else was calm about it.

It wasn’t a screed or a rant, but, judging by his document, Damore clearly feels that some basic truths are getting ignored—silenced, even—by Google’s bosses. So in response, the engineer adopted a methodology at the core of Google’s culture: He went to look at the data. “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” wants to be a discussion of ideas about diversity through solid, ineluctable science.

The core arguments run to this tune: Men and women have psychological differences that are a result of their underlying biology. Those differences make them differently suited to and interested in the work that is core to Google. Yet Google as a company is trying to create a technical, engineering, and leadership workforce with greater numbers of women than these differences can sustain, and it’s hurting the company.

Damore further says that anyone who tries to talk about that paradox gets silenced—which runs counter to Google’s stated goal of valuing and being friendly to difference. And, maybe helping make his point a little, last Monday Google fired him. Damore is now on a media tour, saying he was fired illegally for speaking truth to power. Hashtag Fired4Truth!

The problem is, the science in Damore’s memo is still very much in play, and his analysis of its implications is at best politically naive and at worst dangerous. The memo is a species of discourse peculiar to politically polarized times: cherry-picking scientific evidence to support a preexisting point of view. It’s an exercise not in rational argument but in rhetorical point scoring. And a careful walk through the science proves it.

The Incoherency Problem

Psychology as a field has been trying to figure out the differences between men and women, if any, for more than a century—paging Dr. Freud, as the saying goes. The results of these efforts are ambiguous. And psychologists are still working on it.

The science of difference is a mushball, and trying to understand differences among populations only makes it messier. Every cognitive or personality trait will have a wide distribution among a given population—sex, ethnicity, nationality, age, whatever—and those distributions may only vary slightly. Which means huge chunks of the population may overlap. For any given trait, men may be more different from each other than from women, let’s say.

That said, Damore’s assertion that men and women think different is actually pretty uncontroversial, and he cites a paper to back it up, from a team lead by David Schmitt, a psychologist at Bradley University in Illinois and director of the International Sexuality Description Project. The 2008 article, “Why Can’t a Man Be More Like a Woman? Sex Difference in Big Five Personality Traits Across 55 Cultures,” does indeed seem to show that women rate higher than men in neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.

As always, the issue is the extent of the difference (and what causes it—more on that in a bit). Also, as Damore himself notes: Google hires individuals, not populations.

Damore argues that greater extraversion and agreeableness, on the whole, would make it harder for women to negotiate and stake out leadership positions in an organization, and that higher neuroticism would naturally lead to fewer women in high-stress jobs. The first-order criticism here is easy: Damore oversells the difference cited in the paper. As Schmitt tells WIRED via email, “These sex differences in neuroticism are not very large, with biological sex perhaps accounting for only 10 percent of the variance.” The other 90 percent, in other words, are the result of individual variation, environment, and upbringing.

A larger problem, though, is measuring the differences in the first place. Personality traits are nebulous, qualitative things, and psychologists still have a lot of different—often conflicting or contradictory—ways to measure them. In fact, the social sciences are rife with these kinds of disagreements, what sociologist Duncan Watts has called an “incoherency problem.” Very smart people studying the same things collect related, overlapping data and then say that data proves wildly different hypotheses, or fits into divergent theoretical frameworks. The incoherency problem makes it hard to know what social science is valid in a given situation.

The impulse to apply those theories to explain human behavior is as strong as it is misguided. Women as a group score higher on neuroticism in Schmitt’s meta-analysis, sure, but he doesn’t buy that you can predict the population-level effects of that difference. “It is unclear to me that this sex difference would play a role in success within the Google workplace (in particular, not being able to handle stresses of leadership in the workplace. That’s a huge stretch to me),” writes Schmitt. So, yes, that’s the researcher Damore cites disagreeing with Damore.

Damore does this over and over again, holding up social science that tries to quantify human variation to support his view of the world. In general, he notes, women prefer to work with people and men prefer to work with things—the implication being that Google is a more thing-oriented workplace, so it just makes sense that fewer women would want to work there. Again, the central assertion here is fairly uncontroversial. “On average—and I emphasize that, on average—men are more interested in thing-oriented occupations and fields, and that difference is actually quite large,” says Richard Lippa, a psychologist at Cal State Fullerton and another of the researchers who Damore cites.

But trying to use that data to explain gender disparities in the workplace is irrelevant at best. “I would assume that women in technical positions at Google are more thing-oriented than the average woman,” Lippa says. “But then an interesting question is, are they more thing-oriented than the average male Google employee? I don’t know the answer to that.”

Semantics aren’t helping here. Is coding a thing- or people-oriented job? What about when you do it in a corporation with 72,000 people? When you’re managing a team of engineers? When you’re trying to marshal support for your proposed expenditure of person-hours versus someone else’s? Which is more thing-oriented, deep neural networks or database optimization?

And maybe the most important question: How useful are psychological studies of the general population when you’re talking about Googlers?

Nature vs. Nurture

Damore essentially forecloses the possibility of changing sex roles and representation at Google—or anywhere, really—by asserting that not only are the differences between men and women significant but that they are at least in part intrinsic. Damore doesn’t assert that biology is the only factor in play, and no scientist does either. But how important biology is to psychology is—again—in heavy dispute.

Here’s Damore’s take: “On average, men and women biologically differ in many ways.”

Nothing to argue about here. If men and women didn’t differ biologically, it would make sexual reproduction very difficult indeed. Also, men and women differ in height (on average), bone mass (on average), and fat, muscle, and body hair distribution (on average). No one thinks those differences are socially constructed.

Damore, though, is saying that differences in cognitive or personality traits—if they exist at all—have both social and biological origins. And those biological origins, he says, are exactly what scientists would predict from an evolutionary perspective.

Evolutionary psychology and its forebear, sociobiology, are themselves problematic fields. Two decades ago evo-psych was all the rage. It’s essential argument: Males and females across species have faced different kinds of pressures on their ability to successfully reproduce—the mechanism, simplistically, through which evolution operates. Those pressures lead to different mating strategies for males and females, which in turn show up as biological and psychological differences—distinctions present in men and women today.

The problem with that set of logical inferences is that it provides a convenient excuse to paint a veneer of shaky science onto “me Tarzan, you Jane” stereotypes. It’s the scientific equivalent of a lazy stand-up comedian joking about how all men dance like this—the idea that nature hardwires our differences. In fact, evolutionary biologists today race to point out that the nature-versus-nurture dichotomy is outdated. No serious scientist finds it to be a credible model.

In 2005, Lawrence Summers, then president of Harvard, suggested publicly that women might not have as much “innate ability” as men to succeed in academic disciplines that require advanced mathematical abilities. In response, psychologists got together to assess more than 100 years of work and present a consensus statement about whether Summers was right. They concluded that a wide range of sociocultural forces contribute to sex difference in STEM achievement and ability, including family, neighborhood, school influences, training experiences, cultural practices, and, yes, some biological factors.

When it comes to brain biology in particular, the authors wrote that “experience alters brain structures and functioning, so causal statements about brain differences and success in math and science are circular.” Most researchers today point to data that shows cognitive traits differ slightly on average between the sexes, but they change throughout an individual’s lifetime, influenced by a mix of genetic, epigenetic, and environmental (including social) factors.

From birth, boys and girls receive different, gender-specific treatment, which can enhance or inhibit any innate differences. That certainly has an effect on the findings of psychology. The gap between girls and boys who say they want to go into the sciences is much more informed by stereotypes—on a survey of half a million people, 70 percent associated math with males—and cultural norms than by intrinsic ability. “From infancy, boys get footballs and girls get dolls, so is it that surprising? We’ve been socializing them. It doesn’t mean there’s anything innate,” says Janet Hyde, director of the Center for Research on Gender and Women at the University of Wisconsin.

All these things change as culture changes. In 1990, Hyde published a meta-analysis on sex differences in mathematical performance among high school students and found significant deficits in girls’ abilities. When she did the same analysis in 2008, the difference had disappeared. In the 1980s, “girls in high school didn’t take as many years of math as boys did,” Hyde says. “Today that gap in course taking has closed. Girls take as many classes as boys do, and they’re scoring as well. What we once thought was a serious difference has disappeared.”

And just as culture moves on, so too does biology. “The brain can change a lot in a matter of weeks,” says Diane Halpern, an author on that post-Summers study and of one of the central textbooks on cognitive sex differences. “That’s why we send children to school. There are areas where, on average, women excel and, on average, men excel, but everyone gets better with education. But it means we cannot know the influence of environmental versus biological variables, even at very young ages.”

In other words, the science on math and science abilities says differences between sexes depend much more on external factors than sex in and of itself. And those external factors and their results can change over time.

This is critical, because most of Damore’s memo seems to be talking about preferences, which is to say, rather than innate skill he means what women would rather be doing versus what men would rather be doing. In fact, one recurring finding in sex difference research is that in cultures seen as more egalitarian, differences in preferences between men and women become more pronounced. With more opportunity, says one hypothesis, men and women are more likely to follow their respective blisses.

So when Damore does juke from preferences to abilities, it looks a little sneaky. Here’s what he writes: “I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women may differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t have equal representation of women in tech and leadership,” he writes. Making the leap from personality differences to achievement differences would require citing at least some of the well-studied body of work we’ve mentioned here, which Damore ignored.

Cognitive Consensus

With the next pivot, the memo gets more pernicious. Damore switches—again, subtly—from effects to causes. His interpretation of the science around preference and ability is arguable; on causation, though, he’s even rockier. According to Damore (and a lot of research), the biological factor that connects sex to cognitive abilities and personality traits is prenatal exposure to testosterone.

Of all the high-stakes claims in sex-difference research, none is more important or more popular than the idea that hormones in the womb help give people stereotypically masculine or feminine interests. While they’re developing, males get a bigger dose of testosterone. “Among social psychologists there’s a consensus that prenatal testosterone does affect a lot of personality traits, in particular one’s interest in people versus things,” Damore said in an interview last week with Bloomberg’s Emily Chang. He also said it to pro-Trump YouTuber Stefan Molyneux, adding that hormonal exposure “explains a lot of differences in career choice.”

Damore is probably wrong about this too. The most consistent findings linking prenatal testosterone to sex-linked behaviors come from about a dozen studies examining toy preferences among girls with a condition known as congenital adrenal hyperplasia, which causes the overproduction of sex hormones, including testosterone. CAH-affected girls tend to be less interested in dolls (substituting for people) and more interested in toys like trucks (things).

But children with CAH have other variables. They’re often born with ambiguous genitalia and other grave medical conditions, and therefore have unusual rearing experiences. To get around this socialization issue, researchers from Emory University gave toys to young rhesus monkeys. When they saw that females preferred plush dolls and males preferred trucks, they concluded that these tendencies must be hard-wired into each sex.

Squint hard at this result, because it presumes that juvenile rhesus monkeys see stuffed animals as monkeylike but “wheeled toys” as thinglike. But why would a monkey see a plush turtle as akin to self? And how would it know what a truck was or was not? Also: The male monkeys played with trucks. The females chose between the two about equally. The logic here walks a twisted path across the floor of the uncanny valley.

Still, most hormone researchers agree that these differences are real. But that they’re directly linked to prenatal testosterone? Not so much. And to differences in career choice? “There’s 100 percent no consensus on that,” says Justin Carré, a psychologist at Nipissing University in Ontario. “The human literature on early androgen exposure is really very messy.”

Appeal to Science

Damore needs scientific consensus to make his case—not just because of confirmation bias but because the memo goes on to argue that the left is just as guilty as the right when it comes to science denialism. He equates conservative tendencies to reject climate change and evolution (theories with an overwhelming scientific consensus behind them) with liberal refusals to accept differences in personality traits between the sexes and—in a quiet racist dog whistle—IQ, where the evidence is far, far weaker.

Climbing to an even higher altitude, though, we might ask another question about Damore’s appeal to science: So what? Which is to say, what are we to do with not just the conclusions of the memo but also its implications? Damore is hardly the first person to use science to justify social norms or political preferences. Science has, too often in human history, been a tool for literal dehumanization as a rationale for oppression. It happened to people of African descent in America; to the poor of the Victorian era; to women in the years leading up to suffrage; and to Jews, people of nonbinary gender, Roma, people with disabilities, and so on in Nazi Germany. Historians try to wall off those ideas now—eugenics, phrenology, social Darwinism—but each, in its day, was just science.

With hindsight you can see that those pursuits weren’t science, and you can aim those 20/20 lenses at Damore too. What he’s advocating is scientism—using undercooked research as coverage for answering oppression with a shrug.

In that context, social science’s incoherency problem becomes disastrous. Throw the most red-state conservative physicist you can find into a room with a pinko-commie physicist and then toss in the latest data from the Large Hadron Collider. Mostly, the physicists will agree on which subatomic particles they can or can’t find. But even if you buy the research on psychological sex differences, the work in their biological or evolutionary basis is far from finished—leaving people free to cherry-pick results ready to mix into a manifesto. Just add outrage.

Science must inform policy—social, corporate, whatever. The more solid the science, the more it can inform. (Why, hello, climate change data—you are terrifyingly real.) But when it comes to sex differences, Google—or any organization, really—will understandably want to create an environment where people feel secure, safe, and empowered to do their best work. It’s good ethics and good business. That’s what Damore seems to see as an overly politically correct culture that stifles dissent.

Damore’s dissent, stripped of its shaky scientism, isn’t a serious conversation about human difference. It’s an attempt to make permanent a power dynamic that shouldn’t exist in the first place. If Google was, for Damore, an echo chamber, that’s because his was the only voice he was really willing to hear.

https://www.wired.com/story/the-pernicious-science-of-james-damores-google-memo/

0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Tue 15 Aug, 2017 11:13 pm
@engineer,
Engineer,

I would like to hear your opinion, maybe with paragraphs from the memo, about what you think was the most offensive thing that Damore said? Other the science, his main point seems to be that the diversity programs do more harm than good. There is no place that he says that female Google employees are inferior to male ones (although he does say that there are more 'well-suited' male engineers in general than female ones).

I ask this of Engineer, because he seems to be the one person answering intelligently, using reason rather than personal attacks. I would appreciate any intelligent response from another poster (but I am not expecting it).


maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Aug, 2017 11:20 pm
@maxdancona,
For the vindictive here.. who want to see this engineer blacklisted for life, you may noticed that the engineer, James Damore, has refrained from attacking Google.

Google is paying him off; several years of salary is probably standard (at his level, a cool million is not out of the question). It is completely worth it to Google to not have this drag out any more. That is why you will not see a lawsuit (even though lawyers have suggested he has a shot in court). He will take his money. And then he will get a job somewhere else.

Kaepernick is having more trouble finding a new job than Damore will.
firefly
 
  4  
Reply Wed 16 Aug, 2017 07:32 am
@maxdancona,
Quote:
Engineer,

I would like to hear your opinion, maybe with paragraphs from the memo, about what you think was the most offensive thing that Damore said?

The issue, with regard to Damore's firing, was Google's assertion that his memo comments violated their company code of conduct--not simply, or because of, their "offensiveness".

Are you suggesting that Damore didn't violate the Google code of conduct?
Quote:
his main point seems to be that the diversity programs do more harm than good

Right, because, he feels they are replacing more qualified, better suited white men, with women and with men of color, in order to achieve more diversity. He has reinforced this view in post-firing interviews where he has asserted that Goggle bases hiring and promotion decisions on race and gender.
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/14/fired-google-engineer-james-damore-says-this-.html

Do you feel attempts to increase diversity in the tech field discriminate unfairly against white men?

Should women and non white men feel that standards were lowered to facilitate their hiring or promotion--or do white men view it that way?
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  6  
Reply Wed 16 Aug, 2017 07:37 am
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
I ask this of Engineer, because he seems to be the one person answering intelligently,

D'awwwww. Did we hurt your fee-fees?
firefly
 
  4  
Reply Wed 16 Aug, 2017 07:39 am
@maxdancona,
Quote:

Google is paying him off; several years of salary is probably standard

Do you know this for a fact? Can you cite any factual information, about Google's policies, and how they are operating in Damore's case, to back that statement up?
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  7  
Reply Wed 16 Aug, 2017 09:23 am
@maxdancona,
You would likely be better served by reading some of the well thought out responses by women to the Damore memo that have been posted on various techie websites. I see the impact of Damore's all too common beliefs from the outside, there are plenty of women who live it daily.

As to what I found especially offensive, first was the chart on top of page four. In this Damore presents himself as very reasonable while at the same time laying the groundwork for the conclusion that Google should infrequently hire women into technical roles and almost never as managers. Wait, you say. He doesn't even say anything close to that! Of course he does, he just does it in a dog whistle way. When Trump said "They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people”, he really didn't mean that most of them are good people. Google prides itself on hiring only the top five percent of technical people and everyone in Damore's circle of employees understands that. Damore drew that graph with the two curves separated by just shy of one standard deviation. If you follow Damore's argument, then if Google means to hire 5% of male programmers, it should only be willing to hire 0.6% of women programmers and women can't really do anything about this because his assertion is they don't have the cognitive potential to achieve higher. Management would be even more restrictive. At this point, I can hear someone saying "That is a tremendous leap!" in the same way that Trump supporters would say "Trump did not say that all Mexicans are bad!" It's not and I see the implementation of Damore's beliefs all the time. I've seen women steered from operations or engineering roles with much higher top end potential into positions in quality, HR or planning where there is lots of work to do but not a lot of recognition. I have witnessed some of these women fight vigorous battles to leave these groups and get back into the mainline, sometimes succeeding by going over their managers' heads and sometimes leaving the company to go somewhere that respects their degrees and capabilities. I see Google trying to fight those trends to sideline top female talent and I Damore as defending his privilege and in tech, that privilege is pretty dramatic.

Let's talk some about the science and the elephant in the room. Cognitive ability has long been researched as being split between biological and environmental. The idea of studying differences in gender is actually pretty new and extremely hard to do because boys and girls are exposed to different environmental factors and expectations from birth, even for twins in the same family. It's almost impossible to find a control set to work with. But what if Damore had gone off about race? There is a full century of study into the impact of genetics on cognitive ability and tons and tons of peer reviewed studies. I mentioned The Bell Curve in a previous post. For those not familiar, the authors of that book collected a lot of work around the impact of genetics on "intelligence" (really cognitive potential since intelligence is realized potential and has heavy environmental factors), concluded that there is a strong genetic component to cognitive potential, but then they (in a small section of the book) made the next logical leap - there is a difference by race. The furor around this book drove dozens of peer reviewed studies with mixed results, but the idea that "intelligence is inherited" is not all that radical today and I think there is wide acceptance that genetics drive potential while environmental factors drive the actualization of that potential. So what if Damore had gone off about race? It's not even a leap, just a small step, to say that if cognitive potential is genetic like eye color, or height or muscle structure, the different sub-populations of humans will vary in cognitive ability. I've asked that question, what about race, a couple of times with no response. Would Damore's opus be greeted differently if he was going off on race? Is it really fair to focus on race or gender when the real question is what does someone do with the potential they are given?

In my opinion, the genetic differences in various populations and between genders are small and so if Google can change the environmental factors to drive more people to achieve their potential, that is to their benefit as a company and increases the pool of top talent. There is probably a lot of bang for the buck by taking off the restrictions that prevent both men and women from achieving their potential and I doubt that either group as a whole has achieved what they are capable of.
izzythepush
 
  2  
Reply Wed 16 Aug, 2017 10:28 am
This thread needs a soundtrack. I picked up their best of CD, listened to this track and thought of...well you can guess the rest.

0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  -1  
Reply Wed 16 Aug, 2017 11:33 am
@engineer,
Quote:
Damore drew that graph with the two curves separated by just shy of one standard deviation. If you follow Damore's argument, then if Google means to hire 5% of male programmers, it should only be willing to hire 0.6% of women programmers and women can't really do anything about this because his assertion is they don't have the cognitive potential to achieve higher.


Your analysis is mathematically incorrect, especially the part where you say "if you follow Damore's argument, then if Google means to hire 5% of male programmers, it should only be willing to hire 0.6% of woman programmers". You are making an incorrect assumption about the population size of male and female programmers.

Besides you are misstating the problem. Google "means" to hire 5% of programmers (male and female). I haven't seen anyone make the claim that Google should hire 5% of male programmers.

Is this point important to your argument?

You and I agree that Damore's memo was incorrect... the question is whether what he wrote was offensive enough to justify firing him.
maxdancona
 
  -1  
Reply Wed 16 Aug, 2017 11:49 am
@engineer,
Gender is not interchangeable with race, and I have already answered this question fully. As, I have already pointed out the there is current peer reviewed research from reputable scientific institutions on gender difference. This is not true for race, and the book you reference has been widely discredited by the scientific community.

Please see the other thread, to replace gender with race is a tangent (an an offensive one at that)...

https://able2know.org/topic/405840-1

The real question is whether what this guy said is offensive enough to justify firing him. Out side of this particular echo chamber, there are plenty of engineers... including female engineers.. who say "no, it wasn't".



engineer
 
  5  
Reply Wed 16 Aug, 2017 12:05 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

Your analysis is mathematically incorrect, especially the part where you say "if you follow Damore's argument, then if Google means to hire 5% of male programmers, it should only be willing to hire 0.6% of woman programmers". You are making an incorrect assumption about the population size of male and female programmers.

I am assuming the much larger male population z scores are representative of the entire population, but that's not much of a stretch. If Google seeks to hire programmers with a z-score of greater than 1.64 and Damore thinks that means women must have scores greater than 2.5 to be equivalent, the 0.6% is right on the money. Since there are less women than men, the disparity is worse, since 0.6% of a smaller population results in less actual workers.
maxdancona wrote:

Besides you are misstating the problem. Google "means" to hire 5% of programmers (male and female). I haven't seen anyone make the claim that Google should hire 5% of male programmers.

Google means to hire programmers in the top 5% of the combined distribution.
maxdancona wrote:

Is this point important to your argument?

I am answering your question about what offends me from the posting. I'm not making an argument that you be offended.
maxdancona wrote:

You and I agree that Damore's memo was incorrect... the question is whether what he wrote was offensive enough to justify firing him.

Damore was not fired because he was offensive, he was fired for violating Google's employee code of conduct. I've stated that several times in this thread. My post was off topic and was in direct response to your request on what I found offensive.
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  6  
Reply Wed 16 Aug, 2017 12:18 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

Gender is not interchangeable with race, and I have already answered this question fully.

In terms of whether Damore's memo violates Google's employee code of conduct, it is completely interchangable and no, you haven't answered the question. If Damore wrote the exact same memo but substituted race for gender, do you think Google should have fired him or is his speech protected?
maxdancona wrote:
As, I have already pointed out the there is current peer reviewed research from reputable scientific institutions on gender difference. This is not true for race, and the book you reference has been widely discredited by the scientific community.

...to replace gender with race is a tangent (an an offensive one at that)...

But the wave of peer reviewed papers on whether cognitive ability is inherited have not been discredited and have actually become generally accepted. You are willing to completely go there that cognitive ability is related to gender when collecting a control sample is almost completely impossible, but you are offended when someone says the same thing about race or nationality? Why do you partition which statements are offensive and which are worthy of free speech protection?

maxdancona wrote:

The real question is whether what this guy said is offensive enough to justify firing him. Out side of this particular echo chamber, there are plenty of engineers... including female engineers.. who say "no, it wasn't".

No, or at least that is not the question you originally posed. The question is whether speech is protected in the workplace. Now you are saying the question is "is speech protected if it doesn't offend too many people. Offensive speech is not protected in the workplace from private employers like it is protected in the public space from government retribution. If your argument is that "well, it didn't offend 65% of the women, so that is fine", then your argument has no consistency. What if he offended 55%? How about 85%? At what percent does he cross a line? What if he did go off on race and offended 99% of his co-workers? The answer is Google gets to decide and it did.




0 Replies
 
 

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