I appreciate many of the points that Mr. Brooks makes in his column (see link below), especially those regarding lack of critical thought by those that read Danmore’s memo, our general inability to deal with subtlety and the mob mentality that has clearly overtaken this situation.
That said, I have to disagree with his conclusions. That disagreement is based on my analysis of the memo and a set of questions I tried to answer as I reviewed Danmore’s memo:
- What was its purpose;
- Was it constructive; and
- What is the likely outcome of the memo’s distribution.
Whether he intended it that way or not, Danmore’s memo was the intellectual equivalent of throwing a grenade. Its primary outcome was to cause damage. It was not constructive and (science notwithstanding) the facts presented are largely irrelevant in the context of trying to run a high performing organization.
I will not argue that men are not different (in all of the ways Brooks outlined) than women, the scientific evidence supports that case unequivocally. But, that is:
- Part of the reason that women are not properly represented in the software engineering profession; and
- Much of the reason that they should be!
Diversity, whether it is one’s point of view or approach to solving a problem, makes teams more proficient and capable of greatness. Is dealing with diversity sometimes frustrating (things may take longer and your point of view might not always prevail): yes, it is. But, the results are worth it.
Back to my three questions:
- What was the purpose? If I put the best face on the memo, it was written to vent frustration and it certainly served that purpose even better than he might have intended;
- Was it constructive? No, it didn’t address the real issue which has more to do with how do you deal with the challenges of a necessarily (if you want to be successful) workforce; and
- What is the like outcome of the memo’s distribution? It certainly has us thinking. But, it was not done constructive manner and is likely to further bifurcate rather than rather than join our thinking which is a really bad move.
In conclusion, I believe that Sundar Pichai did the right thing. That said, if tech companies were really doing a good job of managing diversity, this whole thing probably wouldn’t have happened in the first place.