It is not some twisted, crazy view

Awesome. Peter Singer also thinks James Damore shouldn’t have been fired. He says why in the Daily News. (Shouldn’t it be David Brooks writing for the Daily News and Peter Singer writing for the Times? This arrangement seems backward to me.)

James Damore, a software engineer at Google, wrote a memo in which he argued that there are differences between men and women that may explain, in part, why there are fewer women than men in his field of work. For this, Google fired him.

Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, sent Google employees a memo saying that “much of what was in that memo is fair to debate,” but that portions of it cross a line by advancing “harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”

Pichai did not specify which sections of the memo discussed issues that are fair to debate, and which portions cross the line. That would have been difficult to do, because the entire memo is about whether certain gender stereotypes have a basis in reality.

No it isn’t. There are other things in the memo.

Singer goes through the list of Damore’s stale observations about how wimmin R diffrunt.

Damore is careful to point out that the evidence for these claims does not show that all women have these characteristics to a higher degree than men.

Oh for god’s sake. How credulous can you be? Yes of course he is, because he’s putting on a show of Highly Reasonable Dude.

I wonder if Peter Singer would have said all this if Damore had written exactly the same memo but substituting “blacks” for “women” and “whites” for men.

Except I don’t really wonder. I’m pretty damn sure he wouldn’t have.

There is scientific research supporting the views Damore expresses. There are also grounds for questioning some of this research. In assessing Google’s action in firing Damore, it isn’t necessary to decide which side is right, but only whether Damore’s view is one that a Google employee should be permitted to express.

I think it is. First, as I’ve said, it is not some twisted, crazy view. There are serious articles, published in leading peer-reviewed scientific journals, supporting it.

Second, it addresses an important issue. Google is rightly troubled by the fact that its workforce is largely male. Sexism in many areas of employment is well-documented. Employers should be alert to the possibility that they are discriminating against women, and should take steps to prevent such discrimination. Some orchestras now conduct blind auditions…

And more businesses should do that, Singer says cheerily.

But once such anti-discrimination measures have been taken, to the greatest extent feasible, does the fact that a workforce in a particular industry is predominantly male prove that there has been discrimination? Not if the kind of work on offer is likely to be attractive to more men than to women.

If the view Damore defends is right, that will be true of software engineering. If it is, then moving beyond the avoidance of discrimination in hiring and promotion to a policy of giving preference to women over men would be questionable.

That may be true, but we’re not there yet. We’re not anywhere near that yet. We’re still mired in a world where dudebros spend much of their spare time explaining what’s so wrong and stupid and inferior about women. Damore’s banal “memo” was just more of that, dressed up carefully enough that it – bafflingly – fooled Peter Singer. I find that kind of pathetic.

So on an issue that matters, Damore put forward a view that has reasonable scientific support, and on which it is important to know what the facts are. Why then was he fired?

Pichai, Google’s CEO, says that “To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK.” But Damore explicitly, and more than once, made it clear that he was not reducing individuals to a group, and so was not saying that all — or even, necessarily, any — women employed by Google as software engineers are less biologically suited to their work than men.

Jesus christ! Has the man never heard of lying? Has he never seen any advertising or public relations or political speechifying? Yes we know what Damore explicitly made clear, but he didn’t mean it, and that was blindingly obvious to any woman who has already heard this shit 90 thousand times and doesn’t need to hear it again.

Wouldn’t you think a philospher of Singer’s caliber would have the nous to figure that out?

Google is a very selective employer, and so it is highly probable that Google’s selection processes have led to Google employing women who are, in specific traits, uncharacteristic of women as a whole. The target of Damore’s memo was the idea that we should expect women to make up half the software engineering workforce, and that Google should take measures directed towards achieving that outcome.

Pichai also quotes Google’s Code of Conduct, which expects “each Googler to do their utmost to create a workplace culture that is free of harassment, intimidation, bias and unlawful discrimination.” Damore’s memo did not harass or intimidate anyone, and in a society that protects freedom of expression, there was nothing unlawful about it. Was it biased? To show that it was, it would need to be demonstrated that Damore was biased in selecting certain scientific studies that supported his view while disregarding others that went against it. Perhaps that case could — and should — be made, but to do so would take some time and research. In any case, Pichai does not attempt, in even the most cursory way, to make it.

See above. All this depends on taking Damore completely at face value, which is just dense, and not only dense but obnoxiously clueless about injustices perpetrated against people who aren’t like him. If he had read even one of the many articles or posts by women in tech that explained why Damore’s memo is crap, he probably wouldn’t have written this.


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