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Anti-diversity manifesto: my 2 cents

The Manifesto Wasn't All Wrong

This past couple of days, like most of you, I've read, discussed and argued a fair amount about this "anti-diversity" manifesto. Everything has been said about the manifesto and the author has now been fired from Google for it. I myself work for another tech company in the Bay Area and found the whole situation very interesting, polarizing in fact. I have witnessed some pretty extreme reactions on both sides, which is why I'd like to offer my thoughts on this.

In my opinion, the main takeaway from this is: yes, gender equality is still a taboo. As such, it is something you cannot discuss with everyone easily, and people trying to express views that differ from the socially acceptable egalitarian norm will get bullied. I always try to see all opinions, even those I don't agree with, as being based on some reasoning that is or seems sound to a category of people. Not because of their ignorance, but because of different knowledge, beliefs and intuitions which might be right, wrong or things that cannot be factually verified nor discarded. I would hope this can hardly be debated and that, based on this, people would feel the need to take this guys' points one by one, fact check them and prove him wrong.

Instead, some people decided to take this to social medias, as we all know the best place to get a sane and calm debate, and eventually leak an internal, non-official and potentially damaging document. A document which most likely doesn't express the views of the company or its policies (or why would this guy feel the need to rant against his overly-inclusive work environment). Then the non-sense starts, random people tweeting at others about their stance on gender equality, various facebook posts and blogs explaining to us how women are actually best suited to engineering tasks, that the sole reason why there is a clear discrepancy is that women are still being driven away from tech and leadership positions (why these two always get mixed together, I am not too sure) by our sexist society, how they all hope this guy gets fired, how the valley in general is a hostile work environment, no doubt one of the worst places to work if you're part of <enter community here>.

Hardly the rational reactions you would expect. Now, without agreeing or disagreeing with the whole manifesto, didn't he actually raise some valid points in there? For instance, let's talk about the 5 following points (you can add "in general" to each one of them):

Yes, releasing that document in that form and in a working environment was wrong and this alone was a big lack of judgment. But, if the whole gender equality situation wasn't taboo still, this manifesto would have been nothing more than a mediocre essay and treated as such. Techies would do what they are the supposed to be best at: pragmatically analyze the situation, criticize, point out flaws in the reasoning and bring forward facts and data. They wouldn't just blindly agree or disagree with the whole thing, ask for the guy's head and derive arbitrary conclusions from unverified statements, much like the original document did.

To me, both the manifesto and most of the replies I've seen follow the same logic. You know, that new way of arguing, where one singles out a specific point from an issue and throws in a good punchline to settle the matter, without trying to take a step back or think about the bigger picture. Even better if done through a channel where the target cannot defend itself. Then, on both sides, people read the opinions of those that already agree with them and each community eventually fuels itself. I seem to recall a President once got elected like this.

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