A Google employee was fired after blaming biology for tech’s gender gap — here’s what he got wrong about the science

  • Google has fired an engineer who wrote an internal memo blaming biological differences between men and women for gender inequality in the tech industry.
  • Scientific evidence does not support the claim that differences in personality, preferences, or tendencies between genders is based on genetics or biology.
  • Business Insider went though the memo point by point to fact-check the engineer’s claims.

A Google engineer has been fired after writing a memo asserting that biological differences between men and women are responsible for the tech industry’s gender gap.

“We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism,” James Damore wrote in the manifesto, which was first reported by Vice’s Motherboard and later released in full by Gizmodo.

The 10-page document criticises Google initiatives aimed at increasing gender and racial diversity, and argues that Google should focus more on “ideological diversity” to make conservatives more comfortable in the company’s work environment.

In response, Google CEO Sundar Pichai cut his vacation short and wrote a memo criticising Damore’s manifesto for advancing harmful gender stereotypes. “To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK,” Pichai wrote.

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. Here are the specific claims Damore made in his manifesto, and the real science behind them.

Biological gender differences

Although some differences between men and women have been observed by scientists, they are mostly physical ones. Current research generally does not find evidence that variations in preferences, psychology, or personality stem from genetic or biological factors. Rather, they’re primarily attributed to culture and socialisation.

In his manifesto, however, Damore suggested the gender differences he lists do have biological components. One justification he gives for this belief is that the differences he mentions are “what we would predict from an evolutionary psychology perspective” and are “universal across human cultures.”

Damore didn’t cite any sources to back up his reasoning. However, a 2001 analysis of responses to a prominent personality inventory test found that “contrary to predictions from…

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