Google fires employee over controversial essay

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The Google engineer who penned a controversial anti-diversity essay has confirmed he is no longer working for the firm, after being fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.”

Harvard graduate James Damore sparked outrage last week when he posted a sprawling memo – titled “Google's Ideological Echo Chamber" – in an internal company network.

The 10-page missive took aim at Google’s “misguided” diversity efforts, accused the company of political bias and suggested women are biologically unsuited to jobs in the technology field.

“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,” Damore wrote in the memo.

“Discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive, and bad for business,” he added.

Damore, who first joined Google in 2013, also argues that the company is deliberately silencing those who speak out against liberal views or diversity initiatives.

Google’s political bias has equated the freedom from offense with psychological safety, but shaming into silence is the antithesis of psychological safety,” he wrote.

“This silencing has created an ideological echo chamber where some ideas are too sacred to be honestly discussed. The lack of discussion fosters the most extreme and authoritarian elements of this ideology.”

While the document attracted much criticism online, Damore has also received support from a number of high-profile figures – including WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

“Censorship is for losers. @WikiLeaks is offering a job to fired Google engineer James Damore,” Assange tweeted. “Women & men deserve respect. That includes not firing them for politely expressing ideas but rather arguing back."

Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, agreed that parts of the memo were fair to debate but said much of it violated the company’s code of conduct.

“We need to find a way to debate issues on which we might disagree—while doing so in line with our Code of Conduct,” he wrote in a note to employees.

“I’d encourage each of you to make an effort over the coming days to reach out to those who might have different perspectives from your own. I will be doing the same.”

Pichai’s pragmatism, however, has done little to placate the now-jobless Damore.

“I have a legal right to express my concerns about the terms and conditions of my working environment and to bring up potentially illegal behavior, which is what my document does,” he told the New York Times.

Damore also revealed that he is exploring all possible legal remedies and said he had already submitted a charge to the US National Labor Relations Board, before being fired.

"It's illegal to retaliate against an NLRB charge," he stressed.

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