If you’re here, I’m sure you know about the memo titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber”. Not since the black/blue versus white/gold dress has the internet been so divided over a seemingly simple matter. The document was either a reasonable evidence-backed paper or a sexist Anti-Diversity Manifesto. It’s a long document, you’ll see what you want to see.
People are outraged because it pays to be outraged.
Look: A dozen years ago, Harvard President Larry Summers said something similar about differing trait distributions between the sexes.
It was not a big deal, but MIT biology professor Nancy Hopkins was attendant, and had the following reaction:
“My heart was pounding and my breath was shallow… I just couldn’t breathe, because this kind of bias makes me physically ill.”
She had to leave the room because “it was just too upsetting…I would’ve either blacked out or thrown up.”
(Lady, if that’s your gut response to basic science, you’d best get the hell out of your field.)
But see, that was her schtick. Hopkins is the author of a 1999 screed titled “MIT Study on the Status of Women,” a catalog of all the ways MIT had mistreated female faculty. Dr. Hopkins found that women had been SO terribly mistreated that she was subsequently awarded a 20% raise, an endowed chair, triple the lab space, and additional research funds. Go Nancy.
As a then-student in the Computer Science department, I would never have heard about Summers’ closed-door remarks if Hopkins hadn’t gone running to the press. Of course the statement was intentionally misrepresented. The Guardian reduced it to this bullshit headline: “Why women are poor at science, by Harvard president.”
I was invited to all sorts of Harvard women’s luncheons, where we gravely discussed our feelings and how badly they’d been hurt. I was pretty sure Larry was right, but far be it from me to deny a free lunch.
Following the calls for castration, President Summers apologized in multiple outlets in increasingly pathetic ways. “I was wrong,” he realized in a Damascene moment.
Now, Larry Summers is not a complete idiot. I mean, he IS, but he also knew that it was safer to allocate $25 million of someone else’s money to diversity interests than try to defend his point.
But you see, Larry — once you pay the Dane-Geld, you never get rid of the Dane.
As a female in Silicon Valley, I get lots of free stuff. It’s awesome. There are Women hackathons, Women dinners, Female Founders conferences. Every year, Google hosts a Women Techmakers celebration. These events typically consist of a lot of grievance-airing and self-absorption, but also a lot of free food, which is why I like going to them so much.
If you play the victim for long enough, eventually you truly believe it. That’s why there’s so much moral outrage over a document that Google could have simply ignored.
And that’s why we’ve devolved into a famously litigious culture that rewards competing acts of emotional fragility, whereby the more offended you can show you are, the more likely you are to earn a diversity job and warm approval from a populace whose free exchange of ideas will be further degraded by more speech codes and diversity departments and mandatory microaggression training.
This fair-but-frail fellow takes a page right out of the Nancy Hopkins playbook:
I have been staring at this tweet for 25 min now. It shook me to my core. I am so upset, I cannot come up with appropriate words. https://t.co/SyZ9lYCf2J
— Villi Iltchev (@VilliSpeaks) August 8, 2017
Oh dear, it seems an offensive tweet has rendered him a drooling flatworm for 25 minutes. Surely this constitutes assault.
Edit: I hadn’t realized that female Google employees were already working on a class-action lawsuit for gender discrimination. Why write code when you can shake down your employer instead? h/t @Provoost