He was shot from Google for underlining the fact that husbands may be more suited to working in tech than women. Now James Damore opens up about his sadness and how autism may have influenced its own experience of the world
James Damore conforms to the stereotype. He’s happy to admit he fits the mould of an awkward computer geek and the moment we assemble in a Silicon Valley coffee shop, he knocks a flaunt stand of metal flasks that sink clattering to the storey. The din gleans strange glances at the 6ft 3in software engineer, but Damore is used to strangers distinguishing him; he’s the guy who was fired by Google this summer after he argued that males are more psychologically suited to working in technology than women.
No one recognises the woman standing beside him. She is Damore’s girlfriend: a feminist and a data scientist who works in tech.
The couple make a surprising duet, as I discovered where reference is sat down and talked about some of the questions they usually escape: the gender pay gap, whether boys are more suited to board games than daughters, and the 10 -page memo that turned Damore, nearly overnight, into a pariah in their industry.
The document he ran, designation Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber, argued that mental gender gaps could explain why 80% of Google’s technologists, and the majority of members of the company’s presidents, are humen. In one of the most inflammatory sections, Damore wrote that dames, on average, have” higher levels of neuroticism “, something that may” contribute to the lower number of women in high-pitched stress places “. The aims of the memoranda, he said, was to question Google’s approach to improving diversification, and to argue that the company’s leftwing bias silences alternative vistums.
On 7 August, two days after his memoranda was leaked, Damore was shot for” advancing damaging gender stereotypes “.” I obviously didn’t think that it would explode like it did ,” the 28 -year-old says now.” I lost a lot of sleep and didn’t eat much .”
We are in Mountain View, dwelling to Google’s headquarters. Damore’s girlfriend has agreed to meet simply after being assured that, like her, I disagree with her boyfriend’s considers. She does not want to be identified or immediately quoted: she is keen to remain in the darkness. Damore, meanwhile, has appeared to bask in the attention; in the months since he left Google, he has become a commentator on political issues that extend well beyond the tech manufacture, becoming one of “the worlds largest” polarising fleshes in Silicon Valley.
At the same time, the experience has caused some introspection. In such courses of various weeks of conversation using Google’s instant messaging service, which Damore prefers to face-to-face communication, he opened up about an autism diagnosis that may in part explain the difficulties he knowledge with his memo.
He belief he has a problem understanding how his paroles will be interpreted by other people. Even now, still out of work and coming to the conclusion he has in effect been “blacklisted” from any significant tech corporation, Damore spots it hard to comprehend how his opinions provoked such intense disagreement.” My biggest inaccuracy and forte may be that I witness situations quite differently than ordinary ,” he tells me.” I’m not necessarily the best at predicting what would be contentious .”
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Words were never James Damore’s strong suit. As a child growing up in Romeoville, a outskirt of Chicago, “hes taken” longer than customary to be involved in complete sentences. His parents were concerned; it was several years before they discovered that their son’s verbal rigors were accompanied by some astonishing genius.
By the age of about 11, Damore was coding escapade games on his TI-8 3 calculator. He also discovered chess. Within a year he was able to compete in four recreations of chess simultaneously while wearing a blindfold. He came second in a national chess tournament at 14, and in his teens became the world’s highest-ranking actor in Rise of Nations, personal computers programme play.
It wasn’t until his mid-2 0s, after completing investigate in computational biology at Princeton and MIT, and starting a PhD at Harvard, that Damore was diagnosed with autism, although he was told he had a milder form of the condition known as” high-functioning autism “.
Psychiatrists, he says, assured him “it didn’t matter”. Yet one occurrence around that time hints otherwise. Damore was on a two-day recede for PhD students, which committed an annual habit of inviting students to act skits that thinly poked fun at profs. Damore’s performance included an awkwardly delivered masturbation joke that offended some female students. Two professors subsequently wrote to students apologising for the” uneasiness, discomfort or offense” he had caused. Damore still experiences it hard to see why his skit was objectionable, but abides he may sentiment it differently,” because I’m on the range “.
I ask if he obtains interacting with beings difficult. He responds:” It’s hard for me to say what’s’ difficult’ because I don’t know what the average is .” But he meets small talk tiring and can see behavioural characters in himself that may be linked to the condition, such as” having fewer acquaintances due to maybe social awkwardness “.
It was Damore’s outstanding conduct in coding problems that allured Google recruiters. He was offered a summer internship on a stipend of more than $100,000 and, in December 2013, dropped out of Harvard to connected the tech giant’s horde of 25,000 chiefly male engineers.
Damore exceeded at Google. His act examines were excellent, and he was promoted twice in two years. By early 2017, he was a senior engineer at the company, facilitating lead programmes related to Google’s search engine. It is a persona that, once inventory is taken into account, can come with a stipend of as much as $300,000. Then in June, on a study flight to China, Damore opened his laptop and started typing.” Google has several biases and honest discussion about these biases is being stillness by the dominant dogma ,” he wrote.” What follows is by no means the ended tale, but it’s a perspective that urgently needs to be told .”
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The idea that any employee can challenge firm orthodoxy has played an important role in Silicon Valley, which shuns the hierarchies that reign in other parts of corporate America. Nowhere is this more the client than Google, which raises open debate on millions of internal discussion groups and online gatherings. Google likewise vigorously promotes a culture of” mental security” among its personnel, imagining it imperative that employees feel empowered to tone minds without feeling humiliated or judged.
Company insiders say most employees are savvy enough to know it is unwise to take that mantra extremely literally. But when the organizers of internal fits about Google’s policies on diversity and inclusion invited feedback, Damore made a decision to relay his thoughts.
For some months, he had been harbouring grievances over the route Google was seeking to increase the number of minority and women employees, with mentoring schemes and hiring practices that Damore felt could be tantamount to reverse discrimination.