I haven't read it. I'm probably not going to. That's because my interest in gender balance in the computer industry is low. I care about the software, not the people. Ironically (or perhaps not), this is what makes me a computer geek, and I can testify that for most of my life it has cost me socially. Everybody knows the stereotype of computer geeks. If you don't, then watch the video. The point I'm making is just that small and it should come as no surprise to anyone. Except for that fragment of the population who has extraordinary admiration and hopes for Google as a model of our society, which I happen to think is one weird fragment kissing another weird fragment's butt.
In the news this morning, I read that Rockwell, which is now called Rockwell Collins (since when?), is the object of a takeover bid of around $20 billion. A lot of us keep forgetting about those big businesses that don't listen to our every word, and sell ourselves back to ourselves. In Google news, the GoogleManifesto, some essay written by a dude named James Damore, is all over the place. Evidently it went viral within the company and then I read about it first on Quillette and tweeted it out Monday. I'm generally attracted to articles that get actual scientists to comment, which is rare all over the net. Quillette is the bomb anyway and on my RSS. Right now Quillette is either getting DDOSed or slashdotted. Good for them. Fortunately, I have my own Evernote copy of the article in question.
So my basic and abiding interest is how computer systems add or detract from the ability of humans to make decisions. In fact, that's my career. So I find it rather disturbing that systems can be abused, then again, some people are just poor decision makers no matter what facts may lay at their feet. So my new favorite quote, from Game of Thrones, is "I trust an honest man's eyes more than I trust what everybody knows." And here, Damore is vindicated by Quillette's experts.
This is the core of my support of Quillette's article:
Here, I just want to take a step back from the memo controversy, to highlight a paradox at the heart of the ‘equality and diversity’ dogma that dominates American corporate life. The memo didn’t address this paradox directly, but I think it’s implicit in the author’s critique of Google’s diversity programs. This dogma relies on two core assumptions:
- The human sexes and races have exactly the same minds, with precisely identical distributions of traits, aptitudes, interests, and motivations; therefore, any inequalities of outcome in hiring and promotion must be due to systemic sexism and racism;
- The human sexes and races have such radically different minds, backgrounds, perspectives, and insights, that companies must increase their demographic diversity in order to be competitive; any lack of demographic diversity must be due to short-sighted management that favors groupthink.
The obvious problem is that these two core assumptions are diametrically opposed.
Since I've tweeted out soundbites, I need to be here to catch flack downwind of the hot air spewing right now. Let's see what happens.
If this is an Affirmative Action discussion, then the simple fact is this: 18% of computer science degrees go to women. If Google wants 'parity', then 18% should be their target. If Google wants 'equality' then they're going to have to make some controversial discriminations. I am convinced that there is a demand within the non-bell curve of Silicon-Valley-Americans that far outstrips the supply of qualified women. So the mechanics of creating equality is bound to create a very bumpy playing field, despite all rhetoric to the contrary. Balanced workforce does not produce the kind of tokens people want. Well it very well may create outsized tokens, but that's not what I see as a proper pursuit. Either way, the office politics of such companies I find to be rather twisted. You and I both know that people would figuratively kill to land a job at Google. So I cannot imagine that they don't figuratively kill for promotions inside Google.
I tend to believe that too many people have bullshit jobs, and that of the responsible industries, IT has done less than it should in insuring that productivity goes up. There has been and continues to be more bullshit, which is now often embedded in bullshit processes abetted by bullshit software. But I'm just a cranky old bastard who has been programming since 1974. What do I know? I know I very rarely work with female peers. But my cranky gripe has more to do with what millennials get away with in startups and the thrash that causes. On the whole and in the long run, more than half the industry is still running Windows. See? We're not all getting better software. The industry is generating masturbatory systems. But I'm sure that's not the tangent people embroiled in this controversy wish to discuss. Well, let them come here and discuss it. I can't guess.
My point is that Google itself (not Alphabet) crowdsources all of its value. Google is valuable to the masses because it caters to the masses. When it comes to evolutionary biology, the masses don't get it. They don't care to get it, and they want what they want despite what the experts say. If Google is decidedly democratic (or wishes to present such an image) then it must pretend to aspire for a democratic definition of equality in its workforce, because that is what the masses will want to hear. Thus the dilemma. I think Damore will sue. I think Damore will win. I think there will be more pussy hat parades of disgust.