Why I Was So Pissed at the Google-Douche Manifesto
Google recently came under fire for a misogynistic manifesto created by James Damore, a Google software engineer, who from here on out shall be called Google-Douche. In it, he says that women are biologically incapable of programming and engineering at the same caliber as men. He wrote that women should be doing soft jobs like design because “women, on average, have more openness directed towards feelings and aesthetics rather than ideas.” Men should be engineering and leading. Women “are more prone to anxiety” and that Google should “make tech and leadership less stressful” so that women can fill those roles.
He goes on for 10 pages. I read all 10 pages and I wanted to punch things. I wanted to scream. I had to stop a few times, walk upstairs, and rant to my husband. It makes me so angry, in so many ways.
As a woman. Yes, I am biologically different from a man. I am capable of bearing and feeding children with my body. And that’s about where the biological differences end. My ovaries don’t prevent me from understanding logic. My mammary glands don’t have a magical understanding of aesthetics. My need to sit to pee doesn’t mean I have extra time to ponder the office gossip. (It might mean I have extra time to check out Pinterest, but that’s assuming I don’t have a child bursting through the door.) To assume my second X chromosome means I can’t do something I set my mind to is an insult to women everywhere.
As a female computer scientist. I am just as capable of programming as the guy next to me in class. In fact, I graduated cum laude, so that means I probably more capable than the guy next to me. And you know what? I was pregnant for most of my senior year. I had serious hormone issues, morning sickness, heartburn, and so much more. And I still graduated at the top of my class.
As a mother. First, my outrage went to defending my daughter. I want her to feel at home in whatever field she decides to enter, whether it’s a STEM occupation, the Fine Arts, hands-on labor, whatever. As long as she’s happy with what she does, I’m cool with it. And I want her coworkers to be cool with it. I don’t want her to face discrimination because she’s a female mechanic, tuba player, engineer, surgeon, whatever. I want her to be strong enough to stand up to misogynists who say she can’t do something.
But then I thought about my son. What does this kind of attitude say about how he should behave in society, about what he should think about women? I don’t want him to be a Tech-Bro like Google-Douche who limits women. I don’t want him to think his female manager is “bossy” when the same behaviors from another department’s male manager are considered “persistent.” More importantly, I want him to go into whatever field makes him happy. If he wants to go into early childcare or fashion, so be it. (He does have a fascination with shoes and purses right now, so…) And I don’t want him to face discrimination because of his choices, either.
So I raged a bit last night. I was cranky and pissed and didn’t know what to do with my feelings. I went to bed instead. This morning, as I perused my Facebook feed, I saw that Huffington Post was reaching out for thoughts on this controversy, I spoke up. I have thoughts.
I reached out the writer and told her a little about my background. She thought I had something to contribute, so she interviewed me and included me in her article about why women in tech aren’t surprised by what Google-Douche wrote. As I answered her questions, I realized that I had another reason to be angry at what the Google-Douche wrote.
As a student. When I went back to school for my Computer Science degree, I hoped for classes filled with ambitions, brainy young women. Ok, maybe not filled, but at least a roughly 50-50 mix of male and female. In my graduating class of 16 Computer Science majors, there were only 4 females. I had a female professor, who was incredible. And none of my male classmates were ever overtly misogynistic. No one ever said I couldn’t do something because I’m a woman. But thinking back, the female students in my class tended to be pushed towards doing the “soft” parts of group projects — design, documentation, testing. Which is a behavior encouraged by Google-Douche. My classmates were always cool with women programming and respected the female programmers in class. But that subconscious pigeonholing creates an environment where subtle misogyny can flourish. An environment where women feel they can’t pursue programming positions, muchless leadership positions in tech fields.
So where do we go from here? How do we stop this kind of stifling misogyny from impacting future students? It starts young. It starts with teaching our children. Teach your daughters to fight for what they want. Teach your daughters to speak up when they are being discriminated against. Teach your daughters that they can do whatever they set their minds to.
Teach your sons to respect women. Teach your sons to speak out when they see misogyny and discrimination. Teach your sons that they, too, can do whatever they set their minds to. Just as there’s no such thing as a “man” job, there’s no such thing as a “woman” job.
Women can be mechanics. Men can be daycare teachers. Women can program. Men can cook. I mean, I’m a computer scientist and my husband’s a chef.
Now excuse me, I’m going to enjoy some delicious dessert my husband made. While I drink a glass of pink wine. Because I can. Suck on that Google-Douche.
(In case you missed it above, here’s a link to the article I was interviewed for. Women in Tech Aren’t At All Surprised By The ‘Shocking’ Google Manifesto by Catherine Pearson)