So, this whole Google manifesto thing – my thoughts, for what they’re worth, not expecting to change anyone’s mind but just to state my own point of view, as a woman, and as, well, me…
So, let’s start with making clear what I don’t think. I don’t think that women shouldn’t work in tech. Nor do I think that women are incapable of working in tech. Not only do I know of no reason why they would be – I also personally know women who work in tech, and I actually grew up knowing one (my big sister). In fact, I grew up in a society where no one (to my knowledge) questioned the place of women in tech, so for most of my life I wasn’t even aware this was a question.
But… From what I’ve read, this isn’t what that guy was claiming – he wasn’t saying women can’t be good at tech, just that there are reasons why women are generally less likely to be interested in this field. And that’s a whole nother question. To which my answer off the top of my head is: hey, maybe.
Now, the manifesto guy talked about reasons to do with hormones, and I’ve seen various articles quoting scientific research one way or the other, and no, I haven’t read all those science papers so I don’t have a clearly informed opinion based on scientific research. The thing is, I’m not all that bothered about the precise details – where there are differences between the way men and women function (in addition to the obvious) then to me that’s not a problem, it goes with how I understand the world and to me it’s something to celebrate! I love the differences between men and women, I love how we complement each other, I wholeheartedly believe that it’s all part of God’s deliberate design – the Bible says “male and female he created them” and, guess what, that comes right after the bit where it says God made us in his image. So the whole thing of being different – our diversity! – is part and parcel of us being in God’s image! From where I’m looking, this is awesome! (Because God isn’t some kind of homogenous blob. He is three persons in one. United, but each of them unique!)
So for me, I have no problem with someone saying “women are less likely to be interested in doing X”, I’m even capable of saying that kind of thing myself. What I would have a problem with is if they said women shouldn’t be allowed to.
And the stuff this guy said kinda chimed in with the thoughts I have when I hear things like “there should be more women in [insert name of field]” – I hear this sort of thing and think: why? what if there simply aren’t that many women who are interested in that field/good at that thing? Not to mention that some might be devoting their time to bringing up children, which is, from where I’m looking, one of the most important jobs in the world.
I’m not (as you may have gathered by now) a feminist. I’m a complementarian. It doesn’t mean I think there are jobs that should be out of bounds for women, but it does mean I’m perfectly ok with there being some fields where the gender ratio is far from 50:50 – to my mind that’s not a problem.
And what bothers me most about this whole story is the way this guy got turfed out for daring to voice his opinion. Sure, a company can choose to sack someone for all sorts of reasons, but it saddens me that in the name of diversity, they chose to reduce the diversity of opinions among their staff. And that instead of engaging in dialogue, they’ve simply shown him the door: we welcome women, we welcome people of colour, we welcome anyone and everyone… except for people who dare to think differently and refuse to conform to our consensus.
Yes, I realise this is probably perfectly legal under US law (anyone who wants to yell Freedom of Speech needs to read up on that – Google isn’t your government, so no, it’s not in the slightest bit relevant) – but just because it’s legal, that doesn’t mean it’s ok. There’s an expression we use back home in Israel, that something might be kosher but it smells… For a company that talks big about diversity, I think this smells.