Manifesto Heats Up the Conversation About Diversity in Tech

August 7, 2017 - 3 minutes read

Like much of the rest of America, Silicon Valley has had to do some soul-searching about its values and morals over the past year or so. Stories about the vile, misogynistic work culture at Uber and the gender pay gap investigation at Google have highlighted the sexism that exists in the tech world. Many Seattle app developers believe that this gender inequality undermines the optimistic, even utopian let’s-change-the-world mission of many top startups. But a controversial dissenting view from an anonymous senior software engineer at Google has been garnering a lot of attention over the weekend, bringing the conversation around Silicon Valley’s diversity problem to a fever pitch.

Reports of this manifesto started seeping out of Google on Friday; since then, it has started heated arguments throughout the tech community. The anonymous ranter is outraged by Google’s diversity initiatives and believes that there is a biological basis for the lack of women in tech. He also claims that Google is a leftist “ideological echo chamber”, where the dissenting opinions of conservative employees are consistently silenced. A number of Google employees, app developers, and techies have spoken out against the document, which many see as hateful. “The author is an idiot, grasping at pseudoscience to justify sexism,” said one anonymous employee in response to the document.

Yet a surprising number of voices have spoken up in support of the manifesto. Some employees have defended the author’s right to free speech and think that it’s at least worth engaging his ideas in debate, especially since the document does seem to represent the views of a small portion of Google employees. Others agree wholeheartedly with the author’s thesis. “We need more people standing up against the insanity. Otherwise ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ which is essentially a pipeline from Women’s and African Studies into Google, will ruin the company,” one supporter said. It is hard for many app developers to read these kinds of comments. Many worry that this is precisely the type of voice that will be amplified in the Trump era; they fear that the progress the culture has made over the past several decades will be reversed. Silicon Valley seems to be at a crossroads right now, and app developers are waiting to see how serious it is about embracing the ideals of progress, diversity, and equality. Could this manifesto be the last gasp of a dying ideology?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,