For those who aren’t aware, the tech world has recently been shaken to its core. Since its inception, there’s always been a rather large gender gap in the STEM workforce – in fact, only 29% of all STEM workers are women. Within that 29%, there are hardly any racial minorities represented (African-American, Hispanic, Native American, etc). As a result, the community has been under extreme pressure (for good reason) to encourage more women, and women of color, into tech jobs. This is especially crucial, considering the pay gap between technical careers and non-technical jobs. More diversity equals more perspectives, which in turn, result in more innovation.
Google Inc. has been actively searching for ways to encourage more women to matriculate into computer science degrees. In fact, they’ve written up numerous reports, conducted several studies, and set up a multitude of programs to motivate young girls to pursue science. They’ve found that the hostile and misogynistic nature of tech’s bro-culture is a prime factor in keeping women out of STEM.
Despite being one of the most progressive organizations on Earth, Google is still plagued by those perpetuating myths disguised as fact; bias disguised as pseudoscience.
James Damore is one such person.
A former Google engineer, Damore has written a full, 10-page “manifesto” on Google’s misguided views concerning the gender gap. Women, according to him, are just ‘better’ at some things, like being “agreeable”, and men are just ‘better’ at complicated, systemic programming.
So, on behalf of all the teen girls and women whose dreams are continually repressed, undervalued, and underestimated due to our gender – here’s what I have to say to you, Mr. Damore.
I wish you realized that your words relate to many hateful, misguided people in this country. That many men, do, in fact, agree with what you say. But despite working in the most progressive company in the world, I wish you realized the complete rubbish you have used to make your “points”. I wish you realized how much work you’ve just undone in Silicon Valley, because you’ve shifted the silent bias of many to explicit discrimination, and you’ve made misogyny okay. I wish you realized that your actions have not only brought to light your underlying sexism, but also your implicit bias you described yourself in your “manifesto”.
And you may be wondering, what could a 16-year-old girl possibly know about this? And you’d be right – to an extent. I’m not nearly as old, “wise”, or infamous as you. But I do know one thing that you don’t – in fact, me and the other 29% of your peers.
I know what it feels like to be underestimated. I know what it feels like to be ignored. I know what it feels like to be valued less. I know what it feels like to always try to prove yourself. I know what it feels like to not be in the ‘in’, or the bro-culture you and your friends are unwittingly feeding into.
As a person of color, the system is already against me. Being female makes that even harder. And now, if I want to go into technology, it feels like I’m bringing a knife to a gunfight – I can’t possibly come out of this unscathed. And that’s a feeling you’ll never know, because you can’t possibly understand. You couldn’t possibly understand.
You say that “the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes” and you claim that “these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership”.
But what if I told you that it’s not that black and white? That not everything can be solved by you, being one person? That maybe, you’re part of the problem, and not even close to the solution?
What if I told you of the millions of high-school girls each year who make up but a small fraction of their computer science or engineering classes? Or the hundreds who are harassed on StackOverflow, by your like-minded “bros”? Or the thousands of your peers who routinely have to prove themselves, holding themselves to a higher standard, because people like you automatically assume less of them?
What if I told you of Emily, whose real name I won’t reveal? What if I told you that Emily had an immense passion for robotics, and participated in every competition she could find? What if I told you that Emily was an incredible student, continually excelling at math and science? What if I told you that she had an intellectual gift, whose mind was made for systemic thinking?