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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Jonathan Kay: The Google Manifesto contained truths that we're not allowed to say

...Read James Damore’s now infamous manifesto, and you immediately can tell that the ex-Google engineer—who was laid off this week following outrage over his views—is a product of the modern, more progressive culture. His very first full sentence is, “I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don’t endorse using stereotypes.” And later: “I strongly believe in gender and racial diversity, and I think we should strive for more.” Not exactly hate speech. 

In fact, a significant portion of his manifesto consists of strategies for retaining female employees. To wit: “Women on average look for more work-life balance… Allowing and truly endorsing (as part of our culture) part time work… can keep more women in tech.” I’ve heard diversity consultants say exactly the same thing.

But Damore’s critics focus instead on his thoughtcrime, which was to suggest that “differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don’t have 50% representation of women in tech and leadership.” Many scientists—including Canada’s own Debra Soh, who holds a PhD in sexual neuroscience—will attest to the truth of this. Still, as the popular kids all know, you’re not supposed to actually go out and say it.

I’m no neuroscientist. Unlike Soh, I’ve never studied human brain scans. But over careers in engineering, law and journalism, I’ve met plenty of smart people. And I’ve observed a lot of anecdotal evidence that suggests men and women have—on the level of population means—subtly different intellectual and behavioural strengths. Which in turn encourages some of them to pick one field over another...

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