Memo to a Google Engineer

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By Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.,

from The Wall Street Journal,

Hey, shut up. Google is fighting the diversity furies and you’re not helping.

Try as we might, we can’t find anything truly objectionable in what a now-fired Google engineer had to say about the company’s diversity efforts.

Throughout his memo, James Damore repeatedly makes a point that will be purposely lost on many journalists, because they are afraid of it: The distribution of traits within a population says nothing about the traits of any particular person.

Men, on average, may be taller than women. Systematic science tells us so. But this does not allow anyone to accuse Julie Newmar of being shorter than Mickey Rooney. Neither does it allow Ms. Newmar’s admirers to complain about the science of height distributions.

Google says it dumped Mr. Damore for perpetuating “gender stereotypes,” which implies it’s forbidden to mention scientifically validated variations in the distributions of traits as they relate to gender. Why? Because it’s easier than reminding those who wish to feel aggrieved that such findings say nothing about their own traits or how they will fare at Google.

Which brings us to the real reason Mr. Damore’s prospective employment lawsuit won’t be the great air-clearing this issue needs: Google will pay him off handsomely because it knows it doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

The gist of his memo was not to insist on gender stereotypes but on the folly of directing people into jobs for which they are not suited purely to meet diversity goals. Especially when, as he says, a better alternative is to rethink how jobs are structured if the goal is to make them more attractive to people with a different set of traits than they attract now.

Inconveniently, Mr. Damore also points to the discriminatory nature of Google “programs, mentoring and classes only for people with a certain gender or race.” Inconveniently, he notes the intrinsic unfairness of treating trait-based disparities as gender-based.

Example: Studies suggest women, on average, may be more anxious and more concerned about work-life balance than men, but plenty of men share these traits too. Where are the programs to help these men advance in a culture that naturally tends to reward those who are single-mindedly focused on their jobs?

“Philosophically, I don’t think we should do arbitrary social engineering of tech just to make it appealing to equal portions of both men and women,” Mr. Damore writes. “For each of these changes, we need principled reasons for why it helps Google.”

He insists it’s not intellectually defensible to assume all differences are the product of “oppression” and “sexism.” Guess what? Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are not stupid. They know this. Mr. Damore’s real offense is exposing a necessary hypocrisy in Google’s plan for fending off the societal attacks that began in 2014 when its workforce was revealed to be 70% male and 61% white.

Mr. Damore is an embarrassment to the company’s strategy of appeasing the diversity furies with tokenism, perfectly acceptable to Google’s critics as long as it affirms their insistence that any and all disparities arise from discrimination and victimization.

Its critics don’t really care about outcomes. They care about Google endorsing their ideological and political fixations.

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