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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Just Another Sexist Memo

You see, I got you to click.
Because if the headline had been:
“Maybe There Is An Ideological Echo Chamber At Google After All”
You would have ignored me as just another “contard.”
(In case you were wondering, that word stands for “conservative retard,” a phrase which I picked up just today on Facebook. Funny how liberals, the most tolerant of people, turn absolutely hateful when you disagree with them on principle. So much for caring about people with disabilities.)
And if the headline had been:
“A Disturbing Trend In American Civil Discourse Is That We Cannot Critically Examine Ideas Which Disturb Us Because Of Pervasive Extremism Including Radical Leftist Bias”
…it definitely wouldn’t have gotten any clicks. Too complicated.
I knew you would click on this headline because it’s the same type of phrasing offered by Gizmodo:
And they’ve got 886,000 views as of this writing.
The renowned organizational development researcher Chris Argyris diagnosed the health of a company in part by its ability to critically reflect.
Companies that immediately jumped from impression to conclusion are dysfunctional. On the other hand, organizations which are able to question their own assumptions — what Argyris called “double-loop learning” — are less so.
The problem with getting groups to consider their own biases, wrote Argyris, is that those biases tend to be below the level of consciousness in the first place. This is why any small step forward is so significant. In his words:
“It is not easy to create organizations capable of double loop learning, but it can be done. Even with minimal awareness the results are encouraging.”
The Google memo is important not just for its content, but also for what we learn from the discourse surrounding its publication.
Given that the United States is hyper-partisanright now, it seems much more important for us to step back and reflect about our tendency toward hotheadedness.
Here are some quotes from the internal memo, reprinted in full at Gizmodo. I remain hopeful that we as a society will consider these key points, and not be swayed by the hysteria surrounding them.
  1. “I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don’t endorse using stereotypes.”
  2. “When addressing the gap in representation in the population, we need to look at population level differences in distributions. If we can’t have an honest discussion about this, then we can never truly solve the problem.”
  3. “Google’s political bias has equated the freedom from offense with psychological safety, but shaming into silence is the antithesis of psychological safety.”
  4. “This silencing has created an ideological echo chamber where some ideas are too sacred to be honestly discussed.”
  5. “The lack of discussion fosters the most extreme and authoritarian elements of this ideology. Extreme: all disparities in representation are due to oppression. Authoritarian: we should discriminate to correct for this oppression.”
  6. “Discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive, and bad for business.”
  7. “At Google, we’re regularly told that implicit (unconscious) and explicit biases are holding women back in tech and leadership. Of course, men and women experience bias, tech, and the workplace differently and we should be cognizant of this, but it’s far from the whole story.”
  8. “I’m not saying that all men differ from women in the following ways or that these differences are ‘just.’ I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes.”
  9. “When a man complains about a gender issue issue [sic] affecting men, he’s labelled as a misogynist and whiner.”
  10. “Treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group (tribalism).”
As to the content of the memo, one line of thinking I would like to know more about is the complex relationship between body and culture. The well-studied field of evolutionary biology studies the impact of such things as reproductive differences on gender psychology. But are girls’ genes affected by transgenderational trauma caused by their mothers’ suffering from rape, sexual assault, and/or sexual harassment?
Similarly: Does culture, at least to some extent, shape biology? For as we know, bias persists against girls who study science. And sexual harassment against women in the tech industry is a rampant problem, universally recognized.
Another line of thinking I’d like to see considered is the impact on females of the pressure to be and do it all. There was an article just the other day about all-time-high suicide rates among teen girls: Could the pressure on girls to be hyper-pretty and hyper-muscular and hyper-achievers and hyper-geeks be having an impact?
Studies of anxiety show that when you yell at people, it impairs their ability to think.
Let’s stop yelling at each other.
Time to calm down and use our brains.
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Posted August 7, 2017 by Dannielle Blumenthal. This post is released into the public domain. Public domain photo by geralt via Pixabay.
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By Dannielle (Dossy) Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are the author's own. This blog is hereby released into the public domain.