In response to… James Damore’s Echo Chamber

echo chamber damore echo bilnEcho. Source: bilan

Welcome to my echo. It’s funny, because this guy without meaning to, created his own sound in a cave, which is now reverberating about the internet.

Basically, this dude working for Google as a software engineer was asked to give some feedback on their diversity programs. Without any response he tried sharing his ideas with other employees. His memo then leaked and went viral.

When I first heard about this, I got a brief account of the story – ‘guy says that there are less women in tech because they are biologically less suited to it’.

Without more understanding, there’s a shock factor. I can feel my metaphorical cat hunching up it’s back and getting defensive. ‘Women too stupid to do tech!’ … But I don’t like to jump on a bandwagon without a bit of further information.

giraffe catCats love giraffes. Source: reddit

By coincidence I came across him speaking in an empathy circle in an NVC video. I was still cagey, but interested in how he might not be a total dickhead! It took me a while, and I eventually managed to find the original document. Having read it, I could see the clear intention of the author – to increase inclusion and diversity.

It is not so dissimilar from the advice given in this TED talk by Linda Salane, talking about how women are different from men in certain ways, (for cultural or biological reasons) and knowing this can be used to our advantage. She encourages women to improve their bartering skills for pay and to care less what people think about them so they do what they want/take promotions despite any negative judgements that may be made.

Damore doesn’t make any suggestions for women to change themselves, he does, however, suggest ways tech companies could improve upon their inclusion of women and general diversity in the workplace.

He made many points about this and how political views/biases may be affecting the company. These included the idea that google’s diversity programs singling out one type of person from another is possibly adding to the problem. A catch 22. Damore implies that by including everyone’s opinions, by not labelling people as minorities, we begin a new path of egalitarianism.

Balance-scalesScales. Source: super metal recyclers

This is a similar point to a woman I find truly inspiring, Caroline McHugh – who said that she is a feminist, but she is mostly a ‘womanist’, i.e. proudly a woman. This does not mean feminism is not needed. It just acknowledges the unfortunate catch 22 feminism brings to the table. In an odd way it backs up the idea that it is needed.

(nb I am not saying that feminism is not needed! But, I can see the progression in moving towards what we would like to happen.)

The ideas and strategies suggested in this memo are inspiring to me. He even goes as far as referencing feminists in the memo, arguing we have made great leaps in freeing women of their gender roles.

He makes the argument for men also to be heard, and that giving people jobs simply because of their gender is not helping the problem. But jobs can be made more, ‘female-friendly’ so that women want to work in tech more organically.

 3045915-poster-p-1-how-do-i-get-long-winded-job-candidates-to-stop-talking-during-interviewsTalk. Source: kingston muslim association

If not judged so quickly as an ‘anti-diversity’ statement, these possible findings could be used to help more women in many different sectors. If correct, they could be the key to getting more women into management positions, or more men interested in more social /people-based jobs.

I can understand why some women do not want to hear what he has to say. Perhaps there is too much pain from past experience. The way they have been treated may seem so unfair and, yes, sexist, that they are not willing to hear his ideas. I get it. It is hard to not feel heard or understood.

At face judgement, what he appears to be saying is shocking. But that’s ironically because of the echo chamber of fake news implying he thinks women are not biologically up to becoming techies. -It is easy to say that he is a ‘white male’, so he can never understand. But, what if he’s willing to try to understand? And what if we were willing to hear his perspective, not just dehumanise him because of his skin colour or sex?

Then, maybe, just maybe, we could all hear each other, and we could work something out. And the world could get just a little more diverse.

#strongertogether #hairypitstogether

 

What do you think? Is this guy onto something? Let me know in the comments! And, as always, thank you for your gifts ❤

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