Now you’re getting it a bit. This is sometimes referred to as “face fits culture”, i.e. how well you “fit in” with existing employees will determine what candidate is eventually chosen. Obviously that can potentially impact anyone, but it equally obviously, because the better-paying jobs and more powerful jobs and careers and so on are currently mostly white public/private (but not state) schoolboys, then anyone who isn’t those things (white, male, middle-class+) is less likely to be regarded as going to “fit in”, no matter how good they are. Also the idea that being more “culturally appropriate” makes them more “effective” is not necessarily true. Sometimes being an apparent outsider can have a lot of power, and make people listen, or sit up and do their work, or when being “just one of the boys” means business as usual.
But the main issue here is that this is where a lot of well-meaning stuff falters - particularly because, as long as BAME people and other groups are disadvantaged financially by not being able to get good jobs, they can’t get what are regarded as the cultural prerequisites. It’s a vicious cycle. It’s part of structural racism.
Yeah, sorry, Amazon - they and Google constantly merge in my mind! And attempts to make hiring tools that are “free of bias” so far generally have tended to result in even more biased processes.
It’s a metric that ensures the status quo remains the status quo, and lessens the number of people Google hires from minorities and disadvantaged groups (particularly black people and women), and it helps to ensure the best-paying, highest-status jobs stay with a small group of people. It’s also worth noting that successful people are not always successful because they’re actually good at the job. We’ve seen this with hires at companies I’ve worked at before.
It supports structural racism. Because it’s inherently harder for a black person to be successful (in large part because most highly-successful people come from a background of having shit-tons of money in their family), they’re less likely to get into these roles that would allow them to make enough money and have enough power to change things, or improve things.
Not quite mate.
The person in question decided to “push back” against a diversity questionnaire Google sent round, by suggesting all, let me be clear again on this all lack of female employees at Google could be explained by “biological differences”, and then went on to make up an insane list of “biological differences” that he’d decided existed (mostly based on “science” debunked in the 1950s, when women were still being given lobotomies for being too “uppity”). It was demented and deeply sexist, particularly because it treats women as a monolithic group, not individuals. If someone wrote something similar about men, they’d say they were aggressive, prone to violence, anti-social, poor at cooperating, ill-suited to management roles and so on, and no-one would think that was okay. The fact is, people are individuals. Even if there is a slight bias towards one thing or another, the hiring pool is absolutely vast, and the idea that you’re hiring from the “general population” and thus those traits are highly relevant is literally nonsensical. Especially at Google, who as we’ve discussed, pretty much only hires people who have already proved themselves.
He wasn’t “asking a question”, to be clear, he was making a statement of what he claimed to be fact. Even “asking a question” is not reasonable unless you educate yourself first, and go through the appropriate channels, rather than sending round a deeply sexist memo to effectively the entire firm, which was clearly grandstanding.
Further, he clarified his position after being fired, claiming Google was biased against “conservatives”, demonstrating the political rather than transparent nature of his memo (which didn’t even appear to be conservative, just stupid and sexist, note - clearly he viewed it as such, though).
The big issue with “sex differences” remains, that whilst they may exist (and that is debated and complex, and is psychology, which, let’s be real - still isn’t actually a science, even though it trudges closer, year by year), just aren’t big enough to explain the incredibly massive gender gaps at a lot of tech firms (as I noted), nor the roles women get hired into. Nor do they explain particularly why large numbers of women excel at tech at school and into university, and yet on going into tech work, often leave after a few years (and it ain’t “to have kids”). The explanation is pretty clear - especially if you just ask the people in question. Much of tech is a hostile environment to women, to a greater or lesser extent. And the same environment is hostile to LGBT people, and ethnic minorities.
There is nuance of course, and some things have changed - being white, male, and gay, is probably less of a drawback than being white and female, or male and black, and definitely less of a drawback than being female and black, in tech. That wasn’t true in the 1990s. But again it’s helping white men as the primary beneficiary.
Sure, but that’s my point. There’s a lot of very half-hearted efforts in this sector for precisely that reason. People say “Oh we should try…” but defeatism is common, and that’s exactly what “Well society has failed to fix it so…” is. Your company could be leading on this, or doing the very best, but instead most just do the least they can get away with, usually simply because of laziness/defeatism.
Also, and this is a very important point - if you suggest someone is biologically ill-suited to something, that’s incredibly extreme thing to say, and it’s also something that the worst people in history have loved doing. Women have been oppressed for thousands of years on this basis in many cultures including the UK and US (to varying degrees). That was literally the justification for keeping black people as slaves, and committing genocide against other groups. It was the justification for the insanely prevalent use of lobotomies and sterilization on women (something upsetting to even pretty right-wing men today) up into the 1960s and even the 1980s or 1990s in some places (including places in the US!). It’s not something that’s appropriate to be saying at work, particularly. And people keep bringing it up - and it’s incredibly depressing and upsetting.
White men, generally speaking, have difficulty understanding how very bad it is (unless they make a big effort), because it’s almost never pointed at them. On the incredibly rare occasions that it is, where it’s been suggested that maybe white people are inherently less socially capable, less cooperative, more psychotic, generally more monstrous, the reaction has been horror and immediate dismissal of the ideas and immediate accusations of racism and so on. The same for suggestions that maybe men are inherently bad at certain roles. Society pushes back hard to this. Yet suggestions about other races or women or the like are often said to be “just asking questions”, and society pushes back less hard.
But it’s irrelevant to individuals, and not sufficient to explain the size of the difference, or why women were big in tech until the late 1960s, or why women do extremely well in tech until they have go into existing tech companies. You hire an individual. You don’t hire a section of the populace.
And the reason women tend to leave tech, or leave certain areas of tech is the hostility to their presence. When I say hostility I’m not necessarily talking about actual abuse or the like, though that’s not uncommon, I’m talking about them being treated as an outsider, their desires and the environment they might prefer being seen as “lame” or the like (even if the same thing from man would be seen as fine), and even where they are the nerdiest possible person, who likes the exact same stuff as most people there, being constantly treated as if they’re a “fake nerd” or otherwise questioned. Black people deal with a lot of the same stuff, but it often prevents them even getting into a role (due to “face fits” culture and so on). There’s also the sad male pattern of hitting on women, being rebuffed, and then treating them with hostility, whispering about them, and so on.
And re: abuse and the like, you can say “what about HR”, but I dunno if you’ve ever had a job, but HR’s role isn’t really to deal with that stuff. HR’s role is to protect the company. That is all. They may say they want to protect employees, and individual HR employees may want to do so, but as a function, protecting the company is #1. So if a woman rebuffs a guy, and is treated badly, even if workplace involvement is against company policy, complaining will get her nowhere. HR might send a mildly-worded letter, but likely they’ll do nothing, and the guy in question won’t suffer, whereas the woman who complains will be seen as a “troublemaker” (as literally everyone who complains to HR is). Re: abuse, HR will theoretically act based on company policy, but typically they tend to value longer-term employees over newer ones, and yet abuse tends to occur from longer-term to newer. And protecting the company comes first, so most HR will attempt to minimize the abuse (i.e. trying to say it wasn’t what it was), and if that fails, try to say it was provoked or “both sides”, and if that fails, will attempt to convince victim just not to do anything, and leave the whole issue bound up in red tape for eternity, or until they can work out how to spin it so it was “nothing”.
To be completely fair, some companies do a better job (law firms tend to do better, for example, because they’re keen to follow the actual law). But no large tech company does particularly well here, that I’m aware of (Microsoft I think may be better than most these days). Nor do startups, typically, who often launch without or with very little HR, with smug know-it-all bosses who think they can just “handle” all the HR issues because it’s all “common sense” (which tends to lead to them getting mega-fired once the startup is successful and has a board which can fire them and so on).
Trying to “reform” HR has little success because it’s like trying to “reform” the police. Until there’s a fundamentally different approach that doesn’t involve protecting the company as job #1, this will continue.
Sure, but that’s the problem isn’t it? Every instance is one instance. Every instance can be dismissed at a “one off”. And you even say “several” can be, and that’s exactly the attitude which ends up with cultures hostile to women and black people emerging and being tolerated in tech. An individual who does a bunch of bad things might get terminated, but his buddies won’t, the culture won’t, and chances are, next person they hire, even if he has more common sense, has similar fundamental attitudes, because of “culturally appropriate” hiring.