My younger daughter was told much the same. Both of my daughters proved UVA wrong by doing physics very well indeed. But how many young women gave up, discouraged by the refusal of universities and companies to believe they could do the work?
It’s not just my daughters and the Admiral. The problem with this disparagement of women helps perpetuate the significant shortage of technology talent that plagues Silicon Valley and other tech centers today. Yet, time after time, women who persevere prove those opinions wrong.
A close friend of mine, who I’ve known since elementary school, was told repeatedly that she couldn’t contribute to the space program, yet by the time she retired, she was the top data manager for NASA’s Constellation Program, a renewed manned space flight program with the goal of returning to the moon. She could do it and she did. But she had to overcome a series of managers who fought to keep her from making a difference.
But despite the evidence, the “bro” culture in technology centers persists and it causes problems everywhere it’s found. It was the same culture that nearly brought down Uber when management allowed a work environment that was hostile and abusive to women.
This culture ended up harming Uber's growth and future prospects after thousands refused to use the company’s ride-sharing services.
Now that Damore’s firing has become public with Google's explanation that he was fired for his violation of Google’s Code of Conduct, not for his views, it’s important to remember that giving women and minorities a fair chance isn’t political correctness. It’s good business.
It’s also a matter of fairness to all employees. Prejudging someone’s abilities on the basis of their gender or race is no more correct for a technology job than it was to discriminate on the basis of gender or race for someone’s right to vote.
Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, explained the issue in his blog entry regarding the manifesto and the firing. “To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK,” he wrote. “It is contrary to our basic values and our Code of Conduct, which expects ‘each Googler to do their utmost to create a workplace culture that is free of harassment, intimidation, bias and unlawful discrimination."
The idea that women are somehow biologically temperamentally incapable of working in technology is just as wrong as it was when people believed that African-Americans couldn’t hold certain jobs, attend the same schools or use the same rest rooms as white people. It’s just as wrong as the belief that Native Americans had to be confined to reservations for their own good.
There is no place in the technology industry for Damore and his ilk. Quite frankly, firing was too good for him.