LeapZipBlog: Anwen Wilson's blog: Even the guy behind the research thinks that Googler is wrong

Even the guy behind the research thinks that Googler is wrong

September 13, 2017 by Anwen Wilson  

The academic whose research is at the centre of Google's latest sexism row says it isn't clear to him how supposed differences between genders are relevant to the Silicon Valley firm's diversity problem. Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc., fired James Damore after he circulated an internal memo claiming the company's diversity policies were unfair and biased against white men. But according to David P. Schmitt, a psychologist whose research Damore based some of his arguments on, explaining gender gaps with assumptions about sexism was a "bad idea".Bloomberg reported that Damore confirmed the dismissal for "perpetuating gender stereotypes" over email and that he was "currently exploring all possible legal remedies." In the memo titled Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber, Damore wrote that the lack of diversity within leadership roles is due to innate personality differences between men and women, which means women are less willing or unable to take on high stress and therefore higher paying jobs. He directly quotes but doesn't reference from a 2008 paper co-authored by Schmitt titled: Why Can’t a Man Be More Like a Woman? Sex Differences in Big Five Personality Traits Across 55 Cultures Damore uses Schmitt's research to back up his idea that "we need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism".Schmitt told WIRED that while this isn't his area of expertise, the assumptions made by Damore were unwise. "We should rely on rigorous evidence for making claims in this area. And I believe there is good evidence of both sexism (including sex stereotypes) and real psychological sex differences (some of which may be evolved) to be causes of the gender gaps across occupations," he said.

"Both can be true, and we need much better evidence to know what percentage of the gender gap is caused by each. To make matters worse, it's likely that psychological sex differences and sex stereotypes are interrelated, feeding off of one another in complex ways over historical time, and over developmental time as children grow up. There are no simple answers here."

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