This interview with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki is illuminating:
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki was on vacation when Silicon Valley suddenly plunged into a bitter debate over sexism.
The now-infamous “Google memo,” written by engineer James Damore, argued against diversity initiatives at Google and said that female engineers were less capable of leading others.
That’s not what he said, but go on.
Wojcicki, who was part of the team at Google that decided to fire Damore, recalled talking about it over dinner with her children, to whom she had always tried to promote diversity and equality.
I grew up eating dinners in absolute silence while my mother listened to Gardeners’ Question Time. Compared to family mealtimes in the Wojcicki household, I think I got off lightly.
“The first question they had about it [was], ‘Is that true?’”
Were they asking about what Damore actually wrote, or the version you told them?
That really, really surprised me, because here I am — I’ve spent so much time, so much of my career, to try to overcome stereotypes, and then here was this letter that was somehow convincing my kids and many other women in the industry, and men in the industry, convincing them that they were less capable.
Either your kids can’t read, or you lied to them. Which is it?
That really upset me.
You’re a CEO, yet you get upset by someone writing an internal memo that gets leaked because it confuses your kids?
In response to the backlash to Damore’s firing by self-styled “free speech” advocates, Wojcicki said there’s an important difference between free speech on platforms like Google and YouTube, and free speech inside the companies’ offices.
That’s a handy confirmation that absolute obedience and conformity is a requirement of working in Google. I mean it’s pretty obvious, but rarely do you hear it stated so boldly.
In fact, James Damore did his first interview with a YouTube creator,” she said. “That’s fine to have on the platform. We have lots of rules, but we tolerate — we enable a broad, broad range of topics to be discussed, from all different points of view.”
What did Ned Stark say? “Everything before the word “but” is horse shit.” A wise man, that Sean Bean:
“But it’s different if you’re within a company trying to promote more women,” she added.
Of course it’s different. It always is.
“Think about if you were a woman and James Damore was on your promotion committee, or to just see that the company was enabling this type of harmful stereotype to persist and perpetuate within the company.”
Alternatively, think about if you were a male programmer – or indeed an investor – and you were reading this interview. Wojcicki sounds less like a blue-chip CEO than a whining schoolgirl who can’t work the projector. It’s hard to believe she’s been at Google from the start, but she seems determined she’ll be there at the end.