Prof: Google memo was correct about gender differences

A Rutgers University professor recently came out in support of the claims made by ex-Google employee James Damore in his now-infamous “Google Manifesto.”

Damore argued in his memo that “differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don’t have 50% representation of women in tech,” noting that females have more of an interest in people and aesthetics, while men tend to be attracted to coding and systematizing.

As a result of his memo, Damore was fired from the tech giant and accused of sexism, but Rutgers Professor Lee Jussim has since argued that Damore “gets nearly all of the science and its implications exactly right.”

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“The policies and atmosphere systematically ignore biological, cognitive, educational, and social science research on the nature and sources of individual and group differences,” Jussim states in an interview for Quillette, adding that Google, “like academia,” has allowed for an “authoritarian atmosphere that has stifled discussion of these issues by stigmatizing anyone who disagrees.”

Jussim, who has been teaching psychology for more than 20 years, explained to Campus Reform that science reveals differences between males and females as early as infancy, discrediting the theory that gender differences are mostly culturally constructed.

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“Girls, including newborn infants, and women (and female rhesus monkeys) manifest more interest in people (or, in the case of the monkeys, dolls and stuffed animals) than in things,” Jussim explained. Meanwhile, “boys, including newborn infants, and men (and male rhesus monkeys) manifest more interest in things than in people.”

Additionally, Jussim asserts that gender differences are seen in mathematical and verbal ability at the high-school level, leading many girls who have strong math skills combined with strong verbal skills to encounter a wider variety of career options.

“Thus, as the girls become adults, and enter college and start their careers, they have more options than do many boys,” Jussim told Campus Reform, clarifying that he does not see this as a problem because “we need psychotherapists and family practice doctors as much as we need engineers and software developers.”

While Jussim agrees that Damore gets “the science mostly right,” he does concede that bias and discrimination can also play a role in women’s underrepresentation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

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Gender differences do not negate the possibility of discrimination, Jussim explained, saying, “it is certainly possible, and in my view likely, that women experience some discrimination in tech and STEM.”

Discrimination, he noted, “has certainly historically been a major problem, and it takes a long time to overcome such historical currents,” adding that after more than 30 years in academia, he knows of no scholar in the psychological sciences who would claim that “discrimination does not exist or plays no role in gender gaps in tech.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen