YouTube CEO’s Open Letter Shows Pain On Anti-Diversity Memo

Susan Wojcicki

Are men better leaders compared to women in the tech industry? YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki’s daughter asked her  this question after a former Google engineer’s anti-diversity memo, which has sparked criticism and been circulated widely.

“Mom, is it true that there are biological reasons why there are fewer women in tech and leadership?” she asked.

The memo is now out online, and to answer her daughter’s vital question, the CEO has written an essay for Fortune.

The mother of five replied, “No, it’s not true.”

Former Google engineer James Damore, had written a 10-page manifesto, titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” argues this illogical imbalance in a company that shows how men are superior in bettering their career as leaders in the tech industry and also what makes them more effective employees than women. Damore has been dismissed from service after the memo was posted.

Also read: Women in Tech: Challenges they Face in a Male-dominated Industry

Wojcicki has the perfect response to Damore’s misogynistic view. The CEO, who has been the leader of YouTube since February 2014, writes:

“Though I’ve been lucky to work at a company where I’ve received a lot of support — from leaders like Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Eric Schmidt, and Jonathan Rosenberg to mentors like Bill Campbell — my experience in the tech industry has shown me just how pervasive that question is.”

Wojcicki is a former Google employee who had been working there for over 14 years. In 2006, Google acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion. Recalling her days of facing discrimination, she voices that as a woman in tech, she has been patiently handling such criticism over the years.

Also Read: Open Letter To Mr Google Memo: Dear James, I’m a girl and I can tech too!

According to Wojcicki, the “tragic” points of the memo promotes “unfounded bias”. She says she despises how this sort of unethical language is “being exposed to a new generation”.

Wojcicki shares, “I thought about how the gender gap  persists in tech despite declining in other STEM fields, how hard we’ve been working as an industry to reverse that trend, and how this was yet another discouraging signal to young women who aspire to study computer science. And as my child asked me the question I’d long sought to overcome in my own life, I thought about how tragic it was that this unfounded bias was now being exposed to a new generation.”

The YouTube CEO adds, “When I saw the memo that circulated last week, I once again felt that pain, and empathized with the pain it must have caused others. I thought about the women at Google who are now facing a very public discussion about their abilities, sparked by one of their own co-workers. I thought about the women throughout the tech field who are already dealing with the implicit biases that haunt our industry (which I’ve written about before), now confronting them explicitly.”

Surely, this frustration is real and many women from generation to generation are going on protesting against the regressive mindset.

The memo circulates at a time when the US gender pay gap shows a persistent bias of about 20 per cent. So millennial women may be venturing into every vocation, but there’s still a long way to go.

It’s high time we changed the perception that women can’t shine in tech! 

READ: Is Having An App An Overrated Idea? Bizwomen Give Their Take

Also read: Six stellar women on what it takes to startup, and sustain!

Read More Stories By Ria Das

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