Friday, 11 August 2017

"File lawsuits to disrupt tech's sexism": take 2

LETTER TO NEW YORK TIMES, International Edition
[455 words]
Anita Hill was subject to unfair treatment in the Clarence Thomas affair, so you'd think she would try to avoid it in her treatment of others.   Instead she joins the braying mob in lynching the poor James Damore, author of the controversial "Google Memo".  ("File lawsuits to disrupt tech's sexism".  August 10). 
She does a hatchet job on what he didn't say, but ignores what he did say.
James Damore did not say he was "against Google's diversity initiatives".  The opposite is the case: his aim was to try to make these initiatives more effective, a point he made repeatedly throughout the memo.
He did not say that Google should "... abandon its efforts for gender diversity and replace them with a focus on 'ideological diversity'".  
He does not have "anti-equality attitudes".  Quite the opposite, as he repeatedly says and shows.
Against Hill's straw-persons, we have what Damore did say, which Hill simply ignores: "I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don't endorse using stereotypes" [p1]. "I strongly believe in gender and race diversity, and I think we should strive for more" [p6].  "Viewpoint diversity is arguably the most important type of diversity…" [p8].  
Does that sound like a person who wants Google to abandon diversity?  He simply wants there to be more attention to what he calls "viewpoint diversity", which ought to be unarguable since that is the very reason we are told that the other diversities - gender and race - are so valuable.
He wonders if part of the disparity in the number of coders might be due to lack of interest by women in doing it.  (Different (not better or worse) traits).  That's an interesting question on which there is some data, and which ought to be a debatable issue, not a fireable offence.
The gist of his memo is on the folly of directing people into jobs for which they are not suited purely to meet diversity goals.  Google could rethink how jobs are structured if the goal is to make them more attractive to people with a different set of traits than they attract now.
In saying that Damore has challenged the prevailing orthodoxy.
That orthodoxy is incoherent.  It states that all people, no matter the gender or race, are equal. All inequalities in outcome must therefore be the result of some type of bias or oppression.  But if that were the case, why then insist on "diversity"?  Diversity is only a good thing to the extent that different viewpoints come from different genders and races. And in turn those different viewpoints must be because of "viewpoint diversity". 
In short, you can have equality, or you can have diversity.
But you can't have both. And it's a shame that Hill should smear Damore's efforst to discuss that.

Peter Forsythe.
9 Siena One
Discovery Bay
Hong Kong
+852 9308 0799

Anita Hill opens her article with the same wording as Gizmodo did on 5 August: a Google "engineer's screed against the company's diversity initiatives…", suggesting she may have taken her line from them. Gizmodo was the first to obtain Damore's memo and posted it, allegedly in "Full".  But it is without the only two graphs — both of which are crucial to understanding Damore's argument — and "several hyperlinks are also omitted".  Actually, all 30 of the hyperlinks are omitted. Why?  It has led to some of the commenters on your online version of Hill's article to say that Damore provided no evidence for his statements, whereas he did so extensively.  What's going on here? And why didn't Hill note that fact?

Other links
Peter Guy in the South China Morning Post Says Damore should not have been fired.  Right.
"Stop Equating 'Science' with Truth", by Prof Chanda Prescod-Weinstein.  Against Damore. Hammered in the comments.