Google Headquarters sign – Photo: Shrijagannatha, via Wikimedia.
“These conservatives have to stay in the closet and have to mask who they really are. And that’s a huge problem because there’s open discrimination against anyone who comes out of closet as a conservative.”
—James Damore, the Google employee who was recently fired for writing a memo in which he decried the company’s equal employment opportunity policies, particularly with respect to the hiring and promotion of women. Specifically, Damore argued that women remain underrepresented in the tech industry because of inherent psychological differences between men and women. He was subsequently fired after the memo went viral, reports CNBC.
Speaking with Business Insider, Damore argues that he was fired not because he violated Google’s code of conduct by promoting harmful stereotypes about women, as Google CEO Sundar Pichai claimed in a statement. Rather, Damore maintains that he was fired because he expressed conservative views at a workplace where most of his colleagues are liberal. He says he intends to sue his former employer for wrongful termination.
“There is a dominant ideology at Google, and anyone who dissents against that is either shamed or ostracized,” he said. “And when it became apparent that I wasn’t backing down to the shame, they had to fire me.”
But perhaps his most inflammatory comment in the interview was when he compared the plight of conservatives at Google with the historical persecution faced by LGBTQ people at the hands of the U.S government.
“I was simply trying to fix the culture in many ways,” he said. “And really help a lot of people who are currently marginalized at Google by pointing out these huge biases that we have in this monolithic culture where anyone with a dissenting view can’t even express themselves. Really, it’s like being gay in the 1950s.”
In response, tech journalist Kara Swisher, the executive editor of Recode, who is gay, took to Twitter to blast the comparison.
“Were you forced into electroshock therapy?” Swisher tweeted. “No? Were you thrown out of your family? No? Did you lose custody of kids? No? Beaten? #forshame.”
When other users attempted to defend the comments, saying that Damore was silenced and humiliated, Swisher responded: “Please. It’s like comparing yourself to a political prisoner when you get arrested for jaywalking.”