It's interesting that I have, in my life, been told that my Sicilian maternal ancestors were the "niggers of Europe," and that my Finnish friend had told me that I was "not white, that I was Italian," and that various black people off the street have called me a "white bitch," a "white whore," and that I was able to rise above these things because as a white person and the presumed oppressor, that I was supposed to excuse all these racist comments about myself by people who had acted in far more racist manners than myself, but that it was asking too much for other people to relax a little bit about themselves. It was obvious, my ex told me, that I was a racist because I did not advocate for affirmative action. (Yes, that was my attempt at sardonic humor.)
I couldn't help thinking about these things in light of the Google employee who was fired after he released an articulate and thoughtful statement that detailed his beliefs about why Google was having trouble hiring women and minorities. I read through the statement myself, and did not find it in any way offensive. On the contrary, the author went out of his way to make concessions with those who did not agree with him
Here is a block quote from his essay, which you can read here.
I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don’t endorse using stereotypes. When addressing the gap in representation in the population, we need to look at population level differences in distributions. If we can’t have an honest discussion about this, then we can never truly solve the problem. Psychological safety is built on mutual respect and acceptance, but unfortunately our culture of shaming and misrepresentation is disrespectful and unaccepting of anyone outside its echo chamber. Despite what the public response seems to have been, I’ve gotten many personal messages from fellow Googlers expressing their gratitude for bringing up these very important issues which they agree with but would never have the courage to say or defend because of our shaming culture and the possibility of being fired. This needs to change.
Free speech should not just be for smutty novels (although these are great too, no doubt.) Anyone who is remotely involved with the scientific community knows that it is important to be able to divorce intellectual discourse from emotion in order to be able to discover "the truth." This is why some scientists value computer models that generate predictions, which have no emotional investments to the findings of the simulations. If society in general is not able to delve into the real issues that surround various social issues, change will not come.
I have to say that I agreed with many of the points of the author James Damore, having had the experience in my life of being highly different from most women. Early in life, I found that I made friends more easily with boys than with girls. While other girls were home doing watercolor paintings and dreaming about boys and wedding dresses, I was outside in the yard climbing to the top of the tallest tree that I could find, discovering birds nests, riding my bike down steep hills as fast as I could go without a helmet, and playing 2 on 1 hoops with my brother and my dad. Granted, I did have female friends and I did play with barbie dolls, however, the way that I played with them was very different. As I grew older and embarked on a long journey of self discovery, I learned many things about myself, and discovered exactly why I think and behave so differently from other women. Firstly, I discovered from online sites such as http://www.free-iqtest.net/ that my IQ hovered somewhere around 130, which would place me in roughly the top 3% of the score distribution, roughly three standard deviations above the mean. Here is an illustration, below.
Even though I did not have parents who pressured me to succeed academically, I found it generally easy in history, language, and science classes to listen to the lectures and scan through the material, and pass most of my classes with an A or a B. I never had any special tutoring of any kind, but I recall being able to read before I went to kindergarten (although I do not really remember learning to read, I vaguely recall my father reading a book to me when I was around 4 and feeling like I could "read" the words.) I found that this was a trait inherited by both of my children, who began to pick out words from the books that I read them at ages three and four years old. My children never went to any special tutoring, although I went out of my way to purchase an ipad which I allowed my children to use for one hour a day, and ONLY for educational apps for toddlers. People were often shocked at how verbal my children were at young ages, and I recall quite a bit of hostility as well, with various individuals claiming that my children's access to expensive equipment like the ipad was responsible for their early learning.
I discovered another trait about myself later on, which coincidentally, was ALSO inherited by my children, and that was my low digit ratio. I did read the book on digit ratio by John Manning, which led me to discover that although the average woman has a digit ratio which varies between 1.01 and .95, that my digit ratio was around .93, which was actually lower than the digit ratio of the average American man. (Italian women, Jamaican women, and Finnish women, as well as Gypsies are populations known to have women that have lower than average digit ratios.) Without going into a complete explanation of digit ratios, it is known that those individuals with lower ratios (and therefore more androgen exposure in the intra-uterine environment) are likely to be more athletic, better at measures of analytical reasoning ability, such as math, and more musical. Having a low digit ratio is a double edged sword, because although it appears to be related to all of these gifts and talents, it is also related to higher incidences of certain diseases and mental health issues. I found that my children had inherited my exact digit ratio, along with some other personality traits, including my persistence, inquisitiveness, and verbal abilities.
I wondered if my low digit ratio was partly responsible for my exceptional independence, propensity to drive quickly on the highway, and my athleticism. When a pipe burst in my apartment and I subsequently got mold even after running my dehumidifier full blast, I removed, replaced, and re-plastered my own wall (after the pipe was fixed, of course.) When I needed a fridge in a make-shift kitchen that I designed, I rented a large truck, drove it to Home Depot, and unloaded the fridge completely independently with the help only of a hand truck and some rope. In addition, I built my own garden staircase after my father showed me how to complete the first landing. Here is a photo of the garden staircase that I designed and built myself using salvage garden timber, rebar, and cinder block. Building this staircase entailed carrying 40-60 pound pieces of timber, drilling holes, and hammering rebar into the ground using a large heavy mallet, in addition to leveling with a skeed and tamping the ground. I recently taught myself how to change outdated electrical outlets by watching two or three videos on YouTube and having a friend who is handy show me a live demonstration ONCE. Of all the outlets that I changed, 9 of 11 worked the first time.
I did these things partly out of a desire to save some money, but mostly as a way to challenge myself to learn new skills. I was actually excited to take on these projects! Throughout my life, I have not known other women who find it easy to take on these tasks. I have not known other women who find it easy to plan something and get it done without needing to consult two or three other people and enlist others to help them. It was only later in my life, as an adult, that I met women who I felt shared my world view and my ways of approaching and dealing with problems and interpersonal relationships.
Ironically, while feminists all over the USA are claiming that they want to promote visibility of "strong, independent women," in reality, when most women meet one of these women, they like to deride her as "manly" or "male identified" in order to cut her down. They don't like the way she dresses, her direct manner in conversation, or her "confrontational" style. What a large majority of average women truly relate to and identify with is sort of a high maintenance type who likes to shop, gossip, and whose entire world revolves around catching a man a la "Sex in the City." Ironically, these same women who walk around wearing ostentatious pink vagina caps are the first ones to sling mud at the women who don't fit into the neat little vagina mold that they feel is representative of woman-kind. I am a COMPLETE WOMAN. My vagina is only one small part of who I am.
Ironically, throughout most of my life, although I am not "gay," and even though quite a few men have literally thrown themselves at me in the most embarrassing of ways (for them,) the reality is that I am not really interested in most men. Even now, in my late 30s, I find myself having to fend off men in their late or even early 20s, who pressure me to go out with them, and might be quite good looking, but who have no idea how to engage me intellectually. I have realized that because of the fact that I want a partner who is at least as intelligent as I am, who will also respect my political views and independence, and who I also have great chemistry with, that the likelihood of finding someone who meets all of these modest few criteria is exceedingly small.
All these musings and self reflections were simply a circuitous method of arriving at my main point, which is an incredibly dirty idea: We are all equal UNDER THE LAW, but we were not all born with equal talents and abilities. We all have the same inherent rights BY LAW, but this does not mean that our life circumstances and situations will be equal. Privately funded programs which aim to educate and give opportunities to lesser represented groups are great, and I do personally believe that there are women, blacks, and hispanics who would succeed in the sciences and tech industries if they both recognized these professions as an option AND had the interest and the drive to put themselves through the training process required to reach a certain level of competency. Every effort should be made to make sure that the workplace environment is comfortable for ALL employees, including men, who are occasionally the target of harassment as well. However, simply deciding arbitrarily that underrepresentation of certain groups is solely due to discriminatory hiring practices and cultural collusion to keep certain groups down is counterproductive for business, and it does nothing to shed light on other reasons why certain groups may be under represented.