by Anita Hill
Originally published: August 8, 2017
The recent leak of a Google engineer's screed against the company's diversity initiatives is a reminder that the notion of Silicon Valley as the seat of human progress is a myth — at least when it comes to way the women behind the latest in technology are treated.
The tech industry is stuck in the past, more closely resembling "Mad Men"-era Madison Avenue or 1980s Wall Street than a modern egalitarian society. It may take the force of our legal system to change that.
The leaked memo, titled "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber," called on the company to abandon efforts for gender diversity and replace them with a focus on "ideological diversity." The author even claimed that biological differences make women poorly suited to engineering. While the document may be unusual in its explicit embrace of this kind of backward thinking, the attitudes that underlie it are nothing new in Silicon Valley. Google's decision to fire the employee responsible for the memo neither dispels the notion that a systemic problem exists nor solves it.