The controversial memo written by James Damore, a 28-year-old former Google engineer, rattled Silicon Valley last weekend when it became public and stirred a fierce debate about diversity in the workplace.
Google leaders billed the memo as “offensive” and “harmful.” The memo said that “genetic differences” may explain “why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership.”
This week the company fired the author for “perpetuating gender stereotypes,” he said.
Until now, little has been known about Damore. But since his firing, he’s given at least two lengthy interviews with the hosts of right-wing YouTube channels and a significantly shorter interview with Bloomberg TV.
“I’m not saying that any of the female engineers at Google are in any way worse than the average male engineer,” Damore told Stefan Molyneux, a vocal supporter of President Trump and the host of Freedomain Radio. “I’m just saying that this may explain some of the disparity in representation in the population.”
Damore filed a complaint Monday with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging he was subjected to “coercive statements” by Google, according to the Associated Press. Damore told the AP that he filed the complaint before being fired later that day, and that he’s also weighing other legal options.
“It’s illegal to retaliate against a NLRB charge,” he said. A Google spokesman told the AP on Tuesday that the company could not have retaliated because it was unaware of his labor complaint until reading about it in the media after his dismissal.
Both YouTube interviews with conservative hosts lasted more than 45 minutes. Damore appeared reserved and composed, his words carefully chosen and interlaced with nervous laughs. He told Molyneux he decided to write the memo after attending a Google diversity program, where he heard things he “definitely disagreed with.”
“There was a lot of just shaming and ‘no, you can’t say that, that’s sexist,’ Damore told Molyneux.
“There’s just so much hypocrisy in a lot of things they are saying,” he added.
Molyneux is unabashed in his views against feminism and has generated a large YouTube following, with more than 654,000 subscribers. Damore told him he wrote the document on a 12-hour flight to China for a work trip, and shared the document internally multiple times a month ago.
Initially, the reactions weren’t “explosive,” he said. But once it leaked outside of Google, he said he “couldn’t really get ahead of it at all.”
“People got offended because it goes against the left’s ideology,” Damore said, adding that those on the right in Silicon Valley often feel the need to “stay in the closet” in a workplace culture he defined as a “progressive echo chamber.”
Since his firing, Damore said he has received an outpouring of support in personal messages from individuals within and outside of Google, as well as a number of job openings.
He told Molyneux that Google should attempt to become a more “female-friendly environment” by capitalizing on his viewpoint that women tend to be “more people-oriented” while men are “more things-oriented.” He suggested promoting more collaboration among coders, skills in which he says women tend to excel.
Molyneux criticized the mainstream media’s portrayal of Damore’s memo and praised him for writing it. The host also said he believed critics targeted Damore in large part because he is a white man, and claimed white privilege is “the opposite of privilege.”
In another interview, Damore spoke with Jordan B. Peterson, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, a critic of “political correctness,” feminist postmodernists and the concept of white privilege. He said that Damore’s memo was well-supported by scientific facts and is “certainly not an anti-diversity screed.”
Damore told Peterson he has mostly declined to speak to the mainstream news outlets because they will “twist whatever I say towards their agenda.” Peterson, however, encouraged him to rethink that position.
On Wednesday night, Damore told Bloomberg TV: “The whole point of my memo was to improve Google and Google’s culture and they just punished me and shamed me for doing it,” he said. “I’m not a sexist.”
A number of Google leaders have spoken out about the memo in the days since it circulated. The most personal response came from one of the company’s highest-ranking women, Susan Wojcicki, the chief executive of YouTube, which is owned by Google.
In an essay published by Fortune on Wednesday, Wojcicki wrote that her daughter asked her about the memo.
“Mom,” her daughter asked her, “is it true that there are biological reasons why there are fewer women in tech and leadership?” After some thought, her mother responded, “No, it’s not true,” she wrote.
“I thought about the women at Google who are now facing a very public discussion about their abilities, sparked by one of their own co-workers,” she wrote. “And as my child asked me the question I’d long sought to overcome in my own life, I thought about how tragic it was that this unfounded bias was now being exposed to a new generation.”
In response to Wojcicki’s essay, Damore told Bloomberg TV “there are simply fewer women” wanting to get into tech.
“But if you’re a girl and you’re interested in technology, then that’s great,” he added.
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