Marx, Google And Gender

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Listrade

Looking back, my childhood wasn’t normal. It was at the time, you accept circumstances as a child. That’s just how it is. That’s life and life is what you know. But it was only when I left home and started mixing with others in college that I started to grasp just how different things had been.

I was shocked to find out that others hadn’t gone on Union marches and protests from the age of five. Initially, this was probably more of a lack of babysitter issue than indoctrination to a particular cause, but march we did. Joining in with chants that were meaningless to me and my sister.

Taking turns to hold banners, knowing that at the end of the process would be a warm bottle of “non-corporate” pop, a paper straw that collapsed in on itself after two sips and a packet of crisps.

Others were taking swimming lessons, in football teams or watching Saturday morning cartoons. We were running around playing hide-and-seek while the local Labour group met to organise canvassing for the local candidate.

We’d tag along, knocking on doors, handing out leaflets. On election day, we’d spend our bonus day off school at the polling station giving out Vote Labour stickers.

But the “cause” stretched further into our lives. Prohibitions were placed on any entertainer who had ever expressed any sympathy towards anything other than full Marxism. This left quite a void in the TV schedule.

Kenny Everett was banned (he professed a fondness for Thatcher), Cilla Black gone (same), Dallas and Dynasty violently switched off in disgust, even if it was a short promo, even when it was a news item for “who shot J.R.” because of their promotion and glorification of capitalism.

The list of the banned and the suspected political enemies rivalled McCarthy’s black list (a list that featured strongly in our house as a list of entertainers it was OK to watch and support).

I also learned the concept of hypocrisy as watching and supporting Liverpool Football Club was encouraged, despite several of the team being quite fond of lower taxes and Mrs Thatcher. It didn’t matter, Shankly was a socialist, even though he had recently died, which meant Bob Paisley was too. That was all that mattered.

There was a small sense at the time that we were missing out on something. School ground discussions on the previous night’s television would naturally cover some of the banned programming.

You’d just nod along and pretend you were in on it, laugh along with the others, “ha, yeah that was classic”, repeat the catchphrase, then steer the conversation to something you had seen. Thankfully, Doctor Who was never prohibited, nor any kind of Sci-Fi. Top of the Pops was only banned when Jimmy Saville was on, but that was due to his Thatcher and Royal ties rather than prescience of any other issues.

It wasn’t until college that I played my first game of Monopoly. This came as a shock to my flatmates. It came as a shock to me that here we were, 18 years old, free from parents and they wanted to play a board game instead of going down to the Oak in Headingly and taking advantage of their £1 a pint on a Thursday.

I’d just realised that you could buy a single Pot Noodle for 50 pence in the supermarket, pay with your debit card and get cash back. Due to the early stages of this technology, it didn’t seem to check with the bank how much was in your account, so you could withdraw money that didn’t exist. I was flush with twenty quid, enough for a curry and a lot of Theakstons at the Oak.

Instead, my bourgeoisie flatmates (all broke and unwilling to take part in my Pot Noodle scheme) wanted to spend the night playing a prohibited game. A game that had never been allowed in my house, a game that glamourised all the evils of the capitalist system. I was about to be a traitor to the proletariat.

I was assured that Monopoly was true equality. This was the very foundation, I was informed, of Marxism. Everyone has the same, irrespective of race, gender, religion or politics, you start equal. Life as a game of chance, not privilege. What could be fairer?

I lost. Badly. Quickly. I had a tactic of buying the railways and utilities, an attempt at nationalisation. I kept them free of properties, determined to keep ownership with the People, to not profit from the People.

I watched for a while, made my Pot Noodle in lieu of a curry and watched as the game descended into petty arguments, jealousy, accusations of cheating and was finally abandoned. Thankfully just in time for last orders at the Oak.

The experience neither strengthened or weakened my political views, but it did stick with me. Admittedly, more for the missed opportunity of a pound-a-pint night than anything existential.

It came back to me this week, along with a disgust of Pot Noodles, a thirst for Theakstons and the first of many very uncomfortable discussions with my Bank Manager a few months later.

The now ex-Google employee made a pitch for the futility of trying to force equality and the commentariat split off into their usual divides.

In the background, actual scientists tried to debate the issues at hand aboutmale and female differences. Many are shouted down by non-scientists because their research seems incredulous to the individual’s beliefs.

It is true, men and women are different. We have the science. We don’t need to debate that. The differences do not equate to differencing abilities though. They do not equate to differing interests.

Women can be interested in technology as much as a man, that interest may arise for different reasons, but it is an equally valid and productive interest. We just see and feel differently about some things.

The criticism of the Google employee has focussed on his use of science to explain difference. It turns out he is mostly right. He may have oversimplified, he may have been too general, but his references and science check out. That argument is done.

The foundation of his argument is wrong though. This is what hasn’t been challenged enough. Through all the, mostly ignorant, arguments on science, few arguments have picked up on the assumption that a job or a workplace is inherently unequal.

Like my childhood, we tend to accept the normal as being just that. That’s how it is. Some work is ruled by pressure, by long hours, by isolation. It’s how I do it. It’s how it must be for everyone.
Come down off the cross, we can use the wood.

We all think we’re special. I’m more complex than you could ever imagine on the inside, we say to ourselves daily since 14 years old.There has to be a meritocracy because I am where I am due to merit, grit, talent and hard work. I think.

But not that lot over there, they’re incompetent, they must have something on the boss. I got where I am by working this exact way. That therefore has to be the right way. The only way.

On the surface Monopoly seems equal. We do all start with the same, there is no privilege. Tactics can only go so far as you’re a slave to the chance of a dice. But the game is rigged. The principle of the game is to win. The only path to winning is to own more and earn more than anyone else.

Not just earn more, but ensure the bankruptcy and defeat of the competition. Who says that is the right or natural way of work or life?

We accept this as natural. We play the game, happy we’re all equal at the start. Oh look! A Rick and Morty Monopoly set, how cool is that? Now I get to make a child cry as I send them into a spiral of debt.

The assumption that Computer Engineering doesn’t suit women is based on the assumption that the only way to Engineer is in isolation, for long hours, in highly stressful circumstances. This largely exists because that’s how the tech companies started, small start-ups understaffed and no money, (but enough for a foosball table).

It was their path to success so it must be the only way to maintain success right? It doesn’t matter that necessity and lack of money forced their hand. It’s how they did it, so it is how it is.

Has anybody asked if it really needs to be that way? Maybe it does have to be that way, the author of the memo never discusses this, nor do the critics or supporters. Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it’s a pretence of equality like Monopoly, attached to an unfair, unnatural system. We’ll never know unless we ask the question.

Fitting the science to those circumstances it is possible to see why you could conclude women won’t be attracted to the tech industry, so why bother? Fine, but only if those circumstances are necessary and not just from a lack of imagination around a finding better way.

The key thing for all businesses should be getting the best employees. We know that high ability men and women avoid competitive circumstances. If you’d only ever seen The Apprentice, you could have come to that conclusion on your own, we didn’t need science.

Why would a business want to foster or develop an environment that discourages the high-ability employees and only benefits low-ability? Yet this is exactly what they do because it is all they know. We all accept this as natural as it is all we know.

I’ve played Monopoly since. It’s only a game. If I can accept the concept of dragons and magic in other games, I’m fine to accept the premise of Monopoly. Despite the unauthorised overdraft fees, I’m still sore over missing the cheap drinks when I had money burning a hole in my pocket.

But we still need to be wary and critical of ideas of equality pasted over an inherently unequal concept. We need to be wary of distractions in debates that avoid rooting out the problem.

I’ve also sent this out as a memo to my entire company.

What could go wrong?

Listrade can be found on twitter @listrade

88 thoughts on “Marx, Google And Gender

  1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

    Interesting!
    “We know that high ability men and women avoid competitive circumstances.” Do we? How?

    Reply
    1. Luke Warm

      Some paper he quoted in a previous debate. The correct way to paraphrase that would be “according to [ author name] … ”

      Must say this guy Listrade is one of biggest spoofers I’ve come across in some time. It was something else seeing him give debating notes to Nigel and Clampers.

      Reply
    2. De Kloot

      Organisational Psychology 101. In corporate culture it’s known as rank and yank. It seems logical. Place two high achieving/performing individuals together. Can only work out well, right? No. Their performance will be reviewed against each other and there can only be one winner. The result is ultimately damaging to the individual scoring lower and more holistically injects a paralysis into every organisation that ever listened to Jack Welch. Meaning there’s a real reluctance to join a team or be part of a new team where there’s another high performing team member. Even GE has ditched the vitality curve – as it’s known.

      Reply
  2. JIMMYJAMES

    employee 1: ye get that memo from the boss?

    employee 2: yeah, what the f’ks that all about?

    employee 1: f’knows, is he getten his hole these days?

    Reply
  3. Cian

    Interesting. However the original memo wasn’t saying that men are better than women. (or “Computer Engineering doesn’t suit women is based on the assumption that the only way to Engineer is in isolation, for long hours, in highly stressful circumstances”).
    He was talking about Google, a company with 70,000 people, doing 1000s of separate jobs, pushing the dogma: “men and women are the same” and using positive discrimination of women to force this sameness.

    His point (as I read it) was that women and men have different strengths, and that Google should be looking to put the appropriate person in the appropriate job – and not to force an exact 50:50 split in all roles.

    Reply
    1. nellyb

      It’s like saying male parents are innately less capable than female ones, that’s why male don’t do parenting full time. [sigh] And what about rainbow spectrum, hows their innateness distributed on your binary scale? what does the science say about them? Damore, smart man that he holds himself to be, he neglected to factor in 10% of human population. Hows this scientific?
      I didn’t like Google reaction. Resident shrink should have pulled Damore aside and tell him ‘ hey, have you heard about Fundamental Attribution Error? Let’s talk about it, shall we?” Outcome could have been different. Better I’d imagine.
      However money disparity for the same work is a serious thing. Nobody is allowed to dismiss equal pay rates because some isolated bands of sisters exploit the cause.

      Reply
      1. Cian

        Sign. No, it’s not about capability, it’s about different strengths. It’s like saying that dads provide a different type of care than mams.

        Look around some time at babies being held by their parents. You are more likely to see a father holding the child outwards – he allows the child can see the world. Mothers hold the children inwards – so they can see each other. This is because men and women are different – although (not to labour a point) I’m not saying either is better than the other.

        Yes, I am generalising above #notallmen

        Reply
        1. Lord Snowflakee

          The whole debate is inherently tedious. I’m sick to me balls of it now.

          Yes, there should be equal pay for equal work but I feel what Damore was lamenting about was tokenism. Why didn’t he just stick to that instead of invoking absurd “scientific” arguments? Everyone know social science is a contradiction in terms, it’s a field populated by attention-seekers, feminists and now alt-right snowflakes as well. I suppose it gave some meaning to Nigel and Clamper’s pathetic little lives for a few days this week so every cloud.

          Reply
          1. Clampers Outside!

            It’s that same social science that is used to implement the regressive practices.
            He has little choice but to use that same info to reveal the lies and deceit they promote.
            I wish he had done more on the latest studies on ‘unconscious bias training’ which show that they can not only be counter productive and make things worse without addressing the problem but can damage the trainers and participants ….mental health!

            Potential future lawsuits will be huge if they continue this regressive authoritarian-Maoist type “training”.

            (on a ph, can’t grab link to the study on the effects of ‘unconscious bias training’, I’ve posted it here before)

  4. Clampers Outside!

    What percent of the population is “high-ability” ….
    .
    .
    .
    .

    Somewhere around 2.. maybe 5, apparently.
    Sadly, I wouldn’t be so bold as to claim to be in such an exclusive group.

    But hey, let’s use an example of a work environment created when people from the 2% work together, one of non-competition and harmonious relationships…

    and use that to make a point about everybody else.

    But hey again, don’t ever mention IQ, you can talk about “high-ability” but don’t you dare talk about who is, and who is not. But, I already broke the rule. Boo fuppin hoo! :)

    Someone make this nonsense stop, please.

    Reply
      1. Clampers Outside!

        No sir, why do you ask?
        Need a hand with your meltdown Lord Snowflake. I’d imagine in whether like this, even a snowflake could mange to do something on it’s own… like melt. I guess the biscuit on my desk is a better snowflake then you….

        *excuse me…. nom-anomnom-anom*

        I ate your competition.

        You’re the best again x

        Reply
        1. Nigel

          If that’s your characterisation of my comments on the other thread I have to seriously wonder if you are, in fact, simply a brazen liar. Sheik asked you a direct question about a subject you seem vested in, you reply with a lie about me. Suddenly your inability to articulate a coherent point of view of your own is starting to look less hapless and more calculated.

          Reply
          1. Nigel

            Other people’s opinions don’t actually exist for you, do they? Not as actual concepts that have been expressed and which can be comprehended?

          2. Clampers Outside!

            Here is a direct quote….

            “When people start invoking IQ as proof of anything I start giving them the side-eye” said Nigel

            Do you wish to insist I am a “liar”, I don’t really care either way anymore Nigel, mind yourself

          3. Clampers Outside!

            Read that other comments thread again, you’ll find that when Snowflake posed that question,
            I responded to him, and asked for him to clarify the broad question he had posed and that I would happily oblige.
            Thanks, otherwise without a specific question I would happily recommend asking his question in any search engine.

            go back, and check for yourself. Good lad.

    1. Luke Warm

      I find them rambling, this one misandrist and in general tedious. I mean this one is a great example. It takes him so long to get to the point and then you’re wondering what was all that prologue anecdotal stuff in aid of?

      Reply
      1. Ghost of Caroline

        Very lightweight responses touching largely on tangential areas. First lad is just frothing at the mouth. Schmitt basically argues against the author’s thesis. Geoff Miller sets up an equality and diversity ” paradox” diversion and then goes on and on about it. He’s also fundamentally mistaken about the rationale behind diversity, but that’s okay he’s evo psych and that’s what he does, he’s not the worst of them. When it comes to dealing with the biological data, though, he doesn’t. Deborah Soh doesn’t really say anything of consequence.

        If anyone finds anything more substantial, that’d be great.

        Reply
      1. Ghost of Caroline

        I do! I’m smart, a fast reader and grasp scientific and statistical concepts really quickly, because I’m very familiar with them. It’s a walk in the park for someone like me, a real brainiac!!

        Reply
          1. Gorev Mahagut

            Damore reilies on a black-and-white “nature or nurture” model of inherited characteristics, which is no longer taken seriously by evolutionary biologists. He cites numerous scientific papers in support of his opinions about innate gender characteristics but the papers don’t prove what he thinks they do. He demonstrates ignorance of research about how gender differences are sociologically influenced. He states that compassion is exclusively to left-wing ideologies. He states that both left and right ideologies are equally valid and both are neccessary, not considering that one might be more or less suitable in a given circumstancecs. He assumes current pay and promotional norms are a meritocracy, without giving evidence or supporting argument. His appeal to remove morality from the diversity debate evokes comparison with the “might-is-right” doctrines of fascism.

          2. Luke Warm

            Your sneering response doesn’t aid your argument Caroline.

            @ Clampers here is an excellent editorial from
            The Economist examining whether Google could have handled this differently. As noted in the earlier links I sent Google may have committed
            some employment rights violations here. I fail to see how simply making some good but misguided arguments makes one guilty of gross misconduct but then I guess I’m not some silly little shrill snowflake troll.

            https://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21726080-larry-page-its-co-founder-should-have-written-ringing-detailed-rebuttal-google-should-not?fsrc=scn/fb/te/bl/ed/googleshouldnothavegivenanoutspokenengineerthesack

          3. Ghost of Caroline

            Ah sorry Luke I should have been more clear. I’ve just set out a link to an excellent article there but I won’t be breaking it down any further as it is actually really clear and easy to understand. All subsequent replies not based on an engagement with the article will solely be to wind people like yourself up.

          4. Luke Warm

            Good for you Caroline. I don’t find it an excellent article at all. Rather it rambles all over the places, presents conclusions without evidence or analysis, and is somewhat irrelevant as it pertains to a lot of feminist nonsense, unrelated to the article Listrade posted. You don’t want a discussion at all actually, the give away was when you started bleating on about how smart you are. It was a joke to be sure but this is a serious issue – don’t you want to be taken seriously? Then you proceeded to attack me for asking for a synopsis. Oh well.

          5. Ghost of Caroline

            Omg LUKE imagine not wanting to be taken seriously on a website where basically everyone hates each other and spends all day sniping like bored siblings on a long car journey.

            Your analysis of the article, which I forced you to read in full, is laughable, and you don’t even have to be as smart as me – which is very, very smart indeed – to see that.

          6. Luke Warm

            Ok Caroline. Sorry I mistook you for your older sister who, must be, in secondary school now?

        1. Lord Snowflakee

          @ Caroline

          I’ve tried reading that again. Like Luke Warm I felt it reads like: invective, vitriolic, tedious.

          No respected academic would describe someone else’s arguments as “despicable trash” no matter how misguided especially in an inherently subjective and science-free field like psychology. Your responses to his comments were even more sad. Stick to the kebabs.

          Reply
          1. Cian

            She goes on with some other doozies, for example: “our ancestors maintained egalitarian societies in most places for countless millennia, until the invention of farming allowed them to concentrate resources across generations and thus reinvent chimp-like hierarchies”

            I would *love* to see any evidence that our pre-historic ancestors maintained egalitarian societies. It sounds to me like some idealistic claptrap theory…

            [Dammit LS, this is now twice in as many days…]

          2. Ghost of Caroline

            Can you believe I made your man read it twice and he still thinks it’s about psychology?

            I could feel chagrined if it weren’t for my amazing hair and perfect smile.

  5. Clampers Outside!

    Need a laugh?
    Wanna know how far down the rabbit hole the Marxist Postmodernist left in academia has gone

    This is a course in PRINCETON :)

    No, it is REAL. ….*splutter :) *

    ” Princeton University is offering a course this fall that will “examine the changing history, aesthetics, politics, and meanings of fatness” through dance and performance art.
    Readings for the course bemoan “fat phobia” as “just another form of prejudice,” and the class has a particular focus on “intersectional dimensions of the fat body.” ”

    http://www.campusreform.org/?ID=9571

    Reply
    1. Nigel

      So, just from reading that dedcription, mixing academia and art to study something that’s an issue for a lot of people, not just women. Given the theatricality of your response (‘splutter?’) you actually have more in common with that approach than you might think.

      Reply
          1. Nigel

            Why? So you can ignore what I write, dismiss it out of hand and lie about it later? Getting a bit tired of that.

          2. Clampers Outside!

            You are the most deluded fool on this site.

            Running around the comment page calling me a liar for reminding you of the poo you said just a couple o’ days ago…

            I dunno what to say… go and look yourself if you think the quote is wrong Nigel, good lad.

    2. nellyb

      bemoaning fat phobia is neo-liberal, not post-modernist marxist.
      neo-liberals value freedom of personal choice above all, if one wants to keep extra weight, one is entitled to and without retribution.
      for marxists neglect of own health is a selfish proposition. since one must contribute to society to the best of abilities. which is not possible if person is letting oneself go. health is a state matter in marxism, not personal.
      just sayin…

      Reply
  6. Jimmey Russell

    I’m glad the guy was fired and publicly shamed, but can he be charged for hate speech as well? or at the very least can a civil suit be filed against him by the women he spewed hate speech at with his misogynistic manifesto?

    Reply
      1. Luke Warm

        I don’t think Clampers is in any way misogynistic. However I do find his arguments poorly stated and he tends to get drawn into tedious spats with the Nigel’s of the world, whose relentless badger-baiting and snarky tone is extremely difficult to take seriously.

        Reply
  7. Kenny U-Vox Plank

    So, would you trust Google with your data now that it is has shown it cannot be trusted to secure its own internal memos and emails?

    Reply

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