Herochat

Culture wars at Google

Rufio

  • ***
  • 662
  • +1/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Culture wars at Google
« Reply #15 on: August 08, 2017, 04:01:52 PM »
Sweden is an outlier. You've apparently overlooked the whole point of the example. In virtually every country, boys statistically perform a bit better at math and girls perform a bit better at reading. The only way that Sweden was able to close the boy/girl gap in math was by making the girls *much* better at reading and making the boys do worse than boys in other rich countries across the board.

The point is, you can socially engineer a system that's more inviting to girls (and less inviting to boys), as Sweden has. But you still won't eliminate the statistical biological difference between boys' and girls' interests, even if you do that.

You acknowledge that not every gap is caused by discrimination. That was the Google guy's point. He wasn't arguing that discrimination doesn't exist. He was arguing that diversity policies should be based on evidence, not on automatically assuming bias and mandating dubious "implicit bias" training that tells people with perfectly egalitarian beliefs that deep down, they are bigots.

Pillow Biter

  • *****
  • 1739
  • +2/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Culture wars at Google
« Reply #16 on: August 08, 2017, 04:16:15 PM »
I would have fired him immediately too, though.

It doesn't matter whether he is right or wrong. The world is how it is. To fire off, unsolicited, a 10-page memo on such a topic and either not know how much shit it would cause, or worse, not care, means he's clearly an accident waiting to happen.

He definitely needed to go. Google is a business, not a philosophy and discussion club.

NeoGreenLantern

  • *****
  • 13959
  • +55/-17
    • View Profile
Re: Culture wars at Google
« Reply #17 on: August 08, 2017, 04:18:26 PM »
How are the making the boys do worse? It doesn't sound like they are taking away anything from them. It also states they concentrated on that group not because they are female but because they were already doing better and would get better results pushing them than other groups. The were shown to be more adapt at learning in general.

Also, who says they weren't based on evidence? It doesn't sound like he was part of the team who identified something as a problem then implemented the programs.

Pillow Biter

  • *****
  • 1739
  • +2/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Culture wars at Google
« Reply #18 on: August 08, 2017, 04:21:31 PM »
Disentangling culture and biology is tough. But it's so important to be humble in the face of overwhelming complexity. It's just as arrogant to assume it's all cultural unless shown otherwise than to assume the opposite. It's most likely a mix of both, though anything remains possible. We are dealing with best guesses here.


NeoGreenLantern

  • *****
  • 13959
  • +55/-17
    • View Profile
Re: Culture wars at Google
« Reply #19 on: August 08, 2017, 04:39:00 PM »
Pretty much.

Here is the thing though. The STEM fields do lack women and minorities in the US. The STEM fields are also, in my personal opinion, the most important fields right now so the more people involved the better. Having programs saying "Hey ladies come get your science on" will either have no effect on the fields, if women just don't want to do those jobs, or a positive effect, by getting more women involved who can potentially be really good at it. So what exactly is the harm in it? Are they banning men from science clubs? Kicking men out of computer classes?

Rufio

  • ***
  • 662
  • +1/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Culture wars at Google
« Reply #20 on: August 08, 2017, 08:43:38 PM »
Neo, the rate of female participation in STEM in the US is similar to the rate among rich democratic nations generally:

https://www.google.com/amp/amp.weforum.org/agenda/2017/03/women-are-still-under-represented-in-science-maths-and-engineering-heres-what-we-can-do

http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/women-workforce-europe

And here is a perfect breakdown of the facts from someone who doesn't have any apparent axe to grind:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.pbs.org/newshour/amp/making-sense/truth-women-stem-careers

The point of my Iran example was to show how evidence points to more women going into STEM in countries where they lack other options, but more often choosing other careers in rich, democratic, egalitarian countroes. That destroys most of the explanatory power behind the idea that the main cause of the gap is discrimination.

On Sweden, why are you changing the topic to ask me why the nation is "making" boys do worse? That question misses the point.

The point is that across all nations and cultures, data consistently shows that boys have slightly more interest in math and girls have slightly more interest in reading. The absolute scores in different environments may vary; what remains constant across cultures is that boys show more relative interest in math than they do in reading, and for girls it is the opposite.

In some unique countries and time periods, boys may score better at everything. In some unique countries and time periods (e.g., Sweden right now), girls may score better at everything. But even when that happens, the data still shows that statistically, boys have relatively more interest and score relatively higher in math, while girls have relatively more interest and score relatively higher in reading.

The statistical different doesn't apply to every individual. The differences are usually not statistically large, but it's a constant and measurable phenomenon.

The question of whether Sweden's unique case is due to their system of learning (the article suggests that the peer-driven style of teaching may be the reason) is irrelevant. It could also be that Swedes are implicitly biased against boys. It could even be that Swedish girls have recently adopted better nutritional habits, while Swedish boys have done the opposite, causing new differences in intelligence to emerge. Who knows; we can speculate all day. It's irrelevant to the point I was making.


NeoGreenLantern

  • *****
  • 13959
  • +55/-17
    • View Profile
Re: Culture wars at Google
« Reply #21 on: August 08, 2017, 08:53:42 PM »
You brought up Sweden. I didn't. Also, Math isn't the only part of STEM fields and the article says girls were out performing boys in science and reading.

Its kinda funny too your now bringing up all these social and environmental reason why boys are falling behind. Nurture when the boys are as interested. Nature when its the girls.

And if your going to go ahead and say your not actually making that argument then my question is this. If you're not saying its all nature or all nurture then whats the harm in Google having programs to entice women into STEM fields? If nature makes them uninterested then they won't reach out to them.

Rufio

  • ***
  • 662
  • +1/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Culture wars at Google
« Reply #22 on: August 08, 2017, 10:25:10 PM »
You brought up Sweden. I didn't. Also, Math isn't the only part of STEM fields and the article says girls were out performing boys in science and reading.

Right, I brought it up in the context of rebuking one of the Gizmodo commentators who cited it as an example of the gap between boys and girls with respect to reading and math being caused mainly by culture.

The example of Sweden actually shows the opposite.  If it were a matter of an "equal" culture narrowing the gap as the commentator claimed, then you'd expect equal results across the board.  That didn't occur.  Instead, the results showed that girls only had a minor math advantage, but a major reading advantage.

Its kinda funny too your now bringing up all these social and environmental reason why boys are falling behind. Nurture when the boys are as interested. Nature when its the girls.

This is a non sequitur for several reasons.

First, I was pointing out that the Swedish example is *not* consistent with the claim that the gaps are primarily caused by culture.  The data shows that statistically, the Swedish girls' reading scores remained better than their math scores, while the opposite was true for the boys.  That is the same consistent result you see across nations and cultures.  The only thing about Sweden that varies from almost every other nation (and from Sweden's own past) is that in absolute terms, the near equality that we usually see (girls slightly better at reading, boys slightly better at math) was skewed so that girls pushed ahead and boys fell behind at everything.  That supports the basic relationship between nature and nurture.You can change absolute results with environment, but biology keeps culture on a leash.

Do you understand the argument that I'm making? You keep responding in ways that appear to misapprehend what I've said.

Second, I was not trying to explain why girls do better than boys in Sweden. As I said, we could speculate all day; it's completely irrelevant to my point. I jokingly mentioned a few theories, including nutrition--which affects biology, not culture--and I sarcastically mentioned implicit bias.  That being said, the great majority of countries--and Sweden until recently--have relatively even overall test and IQ scores between boys and girls.  So if it's nature, it would mean that Swedish girls evolved to be super smart in the past decade or so, or Swedish boys evolved to be dumb.  That's an unlikely explanation.

Third, if the explanation given by the article is accurate-- if the difference in Sweden is due to its switch to student-driven teaching with less hierarchical structure--that is consistent with a biological explanation.  There is neuroscientific research on boys and girls learning differently on average through different methods. That suggests that some learning environments will, on average, impair girls and help boys, and that other learning environments will do the opposite. That would be an example of environmental variables interacting with biological variables, not an example of a "culture of equality" causing the change.

I hope you'll agree that generally, if a statistical difference remains constant throughout cultures and nations, it is more likely that it is primarily caused by biology.  However, if you observe a recent phenomenon that is not replicated across other cultures, nations, time periods, and environments, it is less likely to be primarily caused by biology.

And if your going to go ahead and say your not actually making that argument then my question is this. If you're not saying its all nature or all nurture then whats the harm in Google having programs to entice women into STEM fields? If nature makes them uninterested then they won't reach out to them.

The author of the memo did not have an objection to "having programs to entice women into STEM fields."  His objection (and mine) is about assuming that all gaps are due to discrimination, then creating an environment of fear and paranoia around that idea.  According to him, people at Google created an ideological echo chamber in which political topics were regularly discussed and only one "correct" opinion could be expressed.  He also expressed reservations about mandatory "implicit bias training."

There is a world of difference between creating an internship and marketing program that seeks to broadly appeal to women, on the one hand, and forcing people to attend "implicit bias training" on the other hand. 

Neo, have you read the memo? It's not that long and it's up online. You should take a look. You keep making statements that suggest to me that you're getting your information about the memo from secondary sources, which are inaccurately describing its contents.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2017, 10:30:37 PM by Rufio »

Pillow Biter

  • *****
  • 1739
  • +2/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Culture wars at Google
« Reply #23 on: August 08, 2017, 10:25:58 PM »
You brought up Sweden. I didn't. Also, Math isn't the only part of STEM fields and the article says girls were out performing boys in science and reading.

Its kinda funny too your now bringing up all these social and environmental reason why boys are falling behind. Nurture when the boys are as interested. Nature when its the girls.

And if your going to go ahead and say your not actually making that argument then my question is this. If you're not saying its all nature or all nurture then whats the harm in Google having programs to entice women into STEM fields? If nature makes them uninterested then they won't reach out to them.

There is going to be some harm: you'll spend some resources going against what seems to be the grain. And you may end up hiring some women who are at least somewhat less capable than the men you might have hired, at least in the short term. On the other hand, there may be some gain. Half of your ultimate customer base is women, and you may be more responsive to their needs if you have more women in your company and are more easily able to hear the female voice, whatever that is.
But it's almost always trade offs--there's no free lunch.

Pillow Biter

  • *****
  • 1739
  • +2/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Culture wars at Google
« Reply #24 on: August 08, 2017, 10:28:06 PM »
While anything remains possible, those whose best guess is that biology plays an almost negligible role in female or racial differences are pretty suspect. They usually have an agenda and are not aiming at the unvarnished truth, whatever that is.

NeoGreenLantern

  • *****
  • 13959
  • +55/-17
    • View Profile
Re: Culture wars at Google
« Reply #25 on: August 08, 2017, 10:52:07 PM »

And if your going to go ahead and say your not actually making that argument then my question is this. If you're not saying its all nature or all nurture then whats the harm in Google having programs to entice women into STEM fields? If nature makes them uninterested then they won't reach out to them.

The author of the memo did not have an objection to "having programs to entice women into STEM fields."  His objection (and mine) is about assuming that all gaps are due to discrimination, then creating an environment of fear and paranoia around that idea.  According to him, people at Google created an ideological echo chamber in which political topics were regularly discussed and only one "correct" opinion could be expressed.  He also expressed reservations about mandatory "implicit bias training."

There is a world of difference between creating an internship and marketing program that seeks to broadly appeal to women, on the one hand, and forcing people to attend "implicit bias training" on the other hand. 

Neo, have you read the memo? It's not that long and it's up online. You should take a look. You keep making statements that suggest to me that you're getting your information about the memo from secondary sources, which are inaccurately describing its contents.

I did. And I agree with a lot of it. Not to the point where I think its worth making a stink over it and I work in tech. But the very first thing he mentions under Harm of google biases is programs for women and minorities.


Rufio

  • ***
  • 662
  • +1/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Culture wars at Google
« Reply #26 on: August 08, 2017, 11:43:18 PM »

And if your going to go ahead and say your not actually making that argument then my question is this. If you're not saying its all nature or all nurture then whats the harm in Google having programs to entice women into STEM fields? If nature makes them uninterested then they won't reach out to them.

The author of the memo did not have an objection to "having programs to entice women into STEM fields."  His objection (and mine) is about assuming that all gaps are due to discrimination, then creating an environment of fear and paranoia around that idea.  According to him, people at Google created an ideological echo chamber in which political topics were regularly discussed and only one "correct" opinion could be expressed.  He also expressed reservations about mandatory "implicit bias training."

There is a world of difference between creating an internship and marketing program that seeks to broadly appeal to women, on the one hand, and forcing people to attend "implicit bias training" on the other hand. 

Neo, have you read the memo? It's not that long and it's up online. You should take a look. You keep making statements that suggest to me that you're getting your information about the memo from secondary sources, which are inaccurately describing its contents.

I did. And I agree with a lot of it. Not to the point where I think its worth making a stink over it and I work in tech. But the very first thing he mentions under Harm of google biases is programs for women and minorities.

Fair enough.

I do want to point out that his specific complaint was with "[p]rograms, mentoring, and classes only for people with a certain gender or race."  The reference to "mentoring" and "classes" suggests that he objects to denying *resources* to people just because they have a skin color or sex that is perceived as over-represented. 

That doesn't necessarily mean he'd object to a campus program aimed to entice women or under-represented minorities (some minorities are over-represented in tech) to join the company.  After all, he did encourage trying to reduce the gender gap through "mak[ing] software engineering more people-oriented with pair programming and more collaboration." I would consider that a program for enticing more women to join.

MTL76

  • ********
  • 9252
  • +1109/-10
    • View Profile
Re: Culture wars at Google
« Reply #27 on: August 09, 2017, 12:11:17 PM »
I would have fired him immediately too, though.

It doesn't matter whether he is right or wrong. The world is how it is. To fire off, unsolicited, a 10-page memo on such a topic and either not know how much shit it would cause, or worse, not care, means he's clearly an accident waiting to happen.

He definitely needed to go. Google is a business, not a philosophy and discussion club.

FWIW the "memo" was not an unsolicited letter meant for public or company-wide distribution. Apparently it was in response to a conversation taking place on one of Google's internal message boards, where employees swap ideas on a variety of subjects.


Minority Shareholder, Combine Honnete Ober Advancer Mercantiles (CHOAM)

The Create A Team / Power Set Combo Compendium

NeoGreenLantern

  • *****
  • 13959
  • +55/-17
    • View Profile
Re: Culture wars at Google
« Reply #28 on: August 09, 2017, 12:33:01 PM »
I would consider posting on the internal company board as company wide distribution. Maybe not unsolicited though unless it was unrelated to the conversation.

MTL76

  • ********
  • 9252
  • +1109/-10
    • View Profile
Re: Culture wars at Google
« Reply #29 on: August 09, 2017, 01:03:57 PM »
Google spparently has numerous internal chat rooms for discussing topics not directly related to business. It's not company-wide messaging by any definition. His letter was in response to a mandatory diversity meeting employees were sent to.

The guy was interviewed by Jordan Peterson here, where he goes into it, among other things:

http://youtu.be/SEDuVF7kiPU


Minority Shareholder, Combine Honnete Ober Advancer Mercantiles (CHOAM)

The Create A Team / Power Set Combo Compendium