James Damore, the engineer fired by Google on Monday for circulating a controversial memo questioning the company’s diversity efforts and “ideological echo chambers,” has made at least two appearances on right-wing YouTube channels in the past 24 hours.
In interviews with University of Toronto Professor Jordan B. Peterson and conservative personality Stefan Molyneux, Damore says he began to write the lengthy memo while on a long flight to Beijing in an effort to better explain his controversial views to colleagues. Among his arguments: that women have a high level of neuroticism compared to men, which he alleged, is a reason for the lower number of women in high-stress jobs.
In the interviews, he described the reaction to the memo, both negative and positive, inside Google and out, and argues that his writing wasn’t meant to critique particular female engineers’ skills, but to explain why women are underrepresented in the field.
“I’m not saying that any of the female engineers at Google are in any way worse than the average male engineer,” he says. “I’m just saying this may explain some of the disparity in representation in the population.”
Damore lays out his argument at 29:20 in the interview with Molyneux, the first video below.
After the memo went viral, Damore was fired yesterday for “perpetuating gender stereotypes” and violating the company’s code of conduct. In response, he filed a labor complaint against Google.
Amid dozens of critiques (Fast Company debunked some of its myths here) as well as critiques about how it’s been covered, the controversy has opened up a new front in the culture wars in Silicon Valley.
It also comes as a group of current and former female Google employees are considering suing the tech giant for a “culture that is hostile to women,” and that it has caused them to struggle to advance their careers at the company. They say they have earned less at Google than men, despite having comparable positions and equal qualifications—a claim that has already raised concerns about the company’s transparency and led to a recent legal battle with the Department of Labor.