Google shouldn’t have fired James Damore. The company claims to encourage internal dissent and debate, and that is what Damore provided. But the contents of his memo are nothing to celebrate: He said nothing that hasn’t already been said, in tiresome fashion, for decades.
Moreover, the people defending the content of Damore’s memo, rather than his right to write it, ignore an important subtlety: Google has a practical job to do — manage the people who make up its business — and Damore’s memo made that job harder.
It only echoes Damore’s naïveté to acknowledge that there is some truth to this, but that it is hardly the whole story. Biological determinism is a simplistic worldview. Biology likely plays a role in discouraging men from becoming nurses despite the relatively high pay, and in discouraging women from writing letters to the editor. But nurture, culture, and the natural environment play roles, too. It is prudent to assume that we don’t know much about how these factors work together. It is imprudent, by contrast, to assert that differences stemming from “biological causes . . . may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership.”
Likewise, Damore’s suggestions for how Google can support women are hardly novel. He wants Google to encourage more collaborative programming work to reward cooperation and “agreeableness” and, somewhat vaguely, to “make tech and leadership less stressful.” He also dislikes affirmative action, and here, too, offers a well-rehearsed argument.
Likewise, Google’s parent company has $95 billion in cash on hand. This amount is…