In his first interview with a mainstream media outlet, James Damore, the former Google engineer behind the widely controversial memo about women in tech and leadership, said the company “punished me and shamed me.” He also announced his plans to sue the tech giant earlier this week.
“The whole point of my memo was actually to improve Google and Google’s culture, and they just punished me and shamed me for doing it,” Damore said in an interview with Bloomberg.
To read Damore’s full memo click here.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai seemed to disagree that Damore was the victim when he issued an internal memo to his employees. According to Pichai, Damore’s manifesto not only violated the company’s code of conduct, it “clearly impacted” many of Google’s employees and also “advanc[ed] harmful stereotypes.”
“Our co-workers shouldn’t have to worry that each time they open their mouths to speak in a meeting, they have to prove that they are not like the memo states, being ‘agreeable’ rather than ‘assertive,’ showing a ‘lower stress tolerance,’ or being ‘neurotic,’” Pichai said.
CEO Sundar Pichai said “much of what was in” misogynistic memo from engineer “is fair to debate, regardless of whether a vast majority … disagree,” but said language “advancing harmful gender stereotypes” was “not OK.” The employee reportedly has been fired.
When Damore was asked on Bloomberg if his views have changed at all since the memo went viral, he said he’s continuously updated his essay after receiving feedback.
“What the document now is, is what I largely believe is the scientific consensus for a lot of these issues,” he said.
Damore’s memo states that women in general are not as interested in tech or leadership roles as men due to biological differences. One section of his diatribe suggests biological differences between the genders are “universal across human cultures” and are “exactly what we would predict from an evolutionary psychology perspective.” He cites no sources to back up these claims.
Earlier this week an extensive Business Insider analysis broke down Damore’s manifesto piece by piece and debunked his points.
“Experts have been quick to cite numerous scientific meta-analyses of differences between the sexes, most of which suggest that men and women are alike in terms of personality and cognitive ability,” BI reports.
Top leaders at the company demonstrated their own worst practices by hiding behind a statement from their brand new head of diversity, who has only been on the job for a couple of weeks.
Despite contradictory evidence, Damore said that no one had such a negative reaction toward his piece before it went viral last weekend.
“I shared it with many of our diversity programs, and with individual Googlers,” he said. “But no one higher up ever came to me and said ‘No, don’t do this,’ even though there were many people that looked at it. It was only after it went viral that upper management started shaming me and then firing me.”
After attending one of Google’s diversity programs James Damore said in an interview with a conservative YouTube channel, “There’s just so much hypocrisy in the things they are saying.”
Damore feels so slighted, in fact, that he is considering taking legal action, Wired reported earlier this week:
“In the email exchange with WIRED on Monday night, Damore said he wrote the document ‘to express my concerns about the terms and conditions of my working environment, and to bring up potentially illegal behavior.’ He said he had filed a complaint, formally known as a charge, with the National Labor Relations Board. He also claimed that California law prohibits firing or coercing workers for their political views.”
During the Bloomberg interview, Damore also commented on YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki’s response to his essay.
After Wojcicki’s daughter questioned the validity of Damore’s piece, Wojcicki became upset that Damore’s ideologies were impacting the next generation of potential female leaders. She also questioned what this could have meant for other types of discrimination.
“For instance, what if we replaced the word ‘women’ in the memo with another group? What if the memo said that biological differences amongst Black, Hispanic, or LGBTQ employees explained their underrepresentation in tech and leadership roles? Would some people still be discussing the merit of the memo’s arguments or would there be a universal call for swift action against its author? I don’t ask this to compare one group to another, but rather to point out that the language of discrimination can take many different forms and none are acceptable or productive.”
Damore called the comparison a “false analogy.”
“She’s trying to lump me in with other bigots, which I’m not,” he said.
Meanwhile, more information has continued to come out about Damore. The engineer reportedly changed some information regarding his education history on his LinkedIn page.
Previously, his profile said he received a PhD in systems biology at Harvard in 2013. It was then updated to show he had a masters in the same field, which he received that same year.
A senior writer for Wired reported on Twitter that Harvard confirmed Damore did not obtain a PhD.
Harvard University tells me James Damore did not complete his Phd. He completed a masters degree in systems biology in 2013
— Nitasha Tiku (@nitashatiku) August 8, 2017
Business Insider made the same claim and included screenshots of Damore’s LinkedIn pages before and after making the change.
Also this week Gizmodo, the first outlet to publish Damore’s memo in full, reported that Damore found himself in a controversial situation while studying at Harvard. While attending a systems biology retreat with other members of the Harvard community in 2012, Damore was allegedly “the primary performer” in a skit that “offended his peers with sexist ideologies.”
According to Gizmodo, a source said that Damore played a large role in creating the skit, one which the source called “sexist”:
“According to the source, a short humorous skit is typically performed by students during the annual retreat, and while they described the skits as typically a ‘roast,’ they emphasized that ‘the goal is not to offend.’”
But Damore may have taken it too far, said three sources who reportedly spoke with the outlet. Damore’s skit was said to have included an offensive masturbation-related joke. Two of the sources blamed the bad reaction on Damore’s “awkward delivery.” However, “Multiple sources also allege that the skit was viewed as problematic among many individuals in the department and that a number of people were offended by the specific masturbation joke. The administration later issued the formal apology to the group for the skit overall.”