The Short Version: The Google Memo

The point of it all is to break down the headlines, determine why an issue is important, and reveal the best arguments on each side of the story. Recently Cleo focused on senate filibuster. Trump wants it gone. This week, she talks in depth (short and sweet depth) about the now infamous “Google Memo” that got its author fired. The subtext of the story is hiring practices and gender diversity.

Note: If you have missed any of Cleo’s blogs, just go to our Home Page, type “The Short Version” into Search (magnifying glass icon) and poof, like magic, all her blogs will appear.

“I love getting feedback every week—thank you! If you want come hang out, debate a thing or two, and meet other Shorties, check out Short Events,” says Cleo.

Cleo Constantine Abrams of the “Short Form,” offering densely packed spins on issues of national and global importance.

Cleo Constantine Abrams of the “Short Form,” offering densely packed spins on issues of national and global importance.

What’s happening?

You might have heard about ‘the Google memo.’ Last week, a Google engineer circulated a 10-page memo arguing that genetic differences between men and women (here’s the first jump) are the reason for unequal representation in STEM jobs and (here’s the second jump) mean Google should focus less on gender diversity in hiring.

The engineer, James Damore, was fired. His firing and his memo inflamed an already heated debate on genetics, gender equality, at-will employment and “political correctness.”

Why is it important?

The debate isn’t really about the memo. At the highest level, we’re grappling with the immense influence Google and other tech companies have on society and on our lives.

More literally, there are two reasonable questions at the heart of this controversy:

  1. Why aren’t there more women in technology jobs?
  2. What should we do about it?

It’s important to set a few things straight about the science here. Damore claims that difference between men and women aren’t purely social. That’s true. He goes on to claim that these differences “often have clear biological causes… and they’re exactly what we would predict from an evolutionary psychology perspective.” That’s not true.

At best, research shows conflicting results about empathy, assertiveness, and quantitative thinking. At worst, Damore’s comments are flatly false, as when he claims (with no cited evidence) that women’s biological tendency toward “higher agreeableness” leads to “women generally having a harder time negotiating salary, asking for raises, speaking up, and leading.” A 2005 analysis of 46 separate studiessuggests that’s wrong. The same applies to Damore’s claims about empathy: the science doesn’t support it. In general, these kinds of claims have been used throughout history to justify systemic racism and sexism.

Informed by good science, it’s worth debating what we should do about low representation of women in tech—and what a private company’s responsibilities are.

Debate it!

Should Google prioritize gender diversity in hiring?

Read the debate here.

Why “The Short Version” on TIO:

Over nine years ago, Telluride Inside…and Out began as a lifestyle webzine. Today, in the full knowledge that Telluride is a window on the world, we continue to bring the “zazz” (short for “pizzazz) of the region to a local, national, and global audience by covering everything from Telluride’s robust cultural economy – major events and festivals – to health and fitness and outdoor adventure. When Telluride travels, we write about places to go, people to meet too. (That’s part of the “Out” part of our handle, the other, obviously, Outdoors.)

And now, this weekly column, “The Short Version,” which offers simple summaries of issues of national and global importance.

“The Short Version” is written by Cleo Constantine Abram, the daughter of Telluride locals Eleni Constantine and Jonathan Abram (and therefore an honorary local and regular visitor) and a digital strategist.

Why “The Short Version”? Because, though we live in Shangri-La, our bubble is not impermeable and the rest of the world is only a click away. Because there is no inconsequential action; only consequential inaction. And because information is power in a moment so many of us are feeling powerless.

More about Cleo Constantine Abram:

 

Cleo Abram 2

 

Cleo grew up in Washington D.C., lives in New York City, and loves to visit her parents in Telluride. She authors “The Short Version,” a newsletter that explains each week’s most important issue and both sides of the debate around it.

Cleo is a digital strategist now working at Vox, a general interest news site for the 21st century. Its mission is simple: Explain the news. Politics, public policy, world affairs, pop culture, science, business, and more.

Cleo’s work focuses on ways to share, educate, and inform using online platforms. While in college at Columbia University, she guided the school’s entrance into online education through her role as the youngest elected representative to the Columbia Senate, which makes university-wide policy.

She continued her work on online education at TED-Ed, the educational branch of the nonprofit, building new programs and online tools to support high school teachers worldwide.

Continuing her work with TED, Cleo founded and led an early TEDx conference, the organization’s community-specific series.

Recently, Cleo returned to school, studying video storytelling at Columbia Journalism School.

Most importantly, Cleo loves to ski.

 

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