Recently, a 10 page manifesto was circulated internally at Google and it went viral. Everything I could possibly say about this document was eloquently written by Yonatan Zunger, a former Google employee. What I want to discuss is the ramifications this manifesto has on the community.
My tweets on the matter were featured on USA Today, which sent a flurry of relentless trolls to my Twitter. However annoying this was, it taught me a valuable lesson―the tech community is an amazing and inclusive place filled with brilliant people. Technical and non-technical people from all walks of life have replied to me with endless support and I’m beyond grateful for this. They have proven to me that the world is not full of bad people and not everyone thinks like the author of the manifesto. I’m lucky enough to experience the kind tweets from the community, which restored my faith in humanity tenfold, but not everyone is as lucky as me.
If you saw the replies I received and felt pity, don’t. It’s not that I don’t appreciate what you all have done for me, because I do more than you know, but I’ll be fine. The community is going to suffer from this more than I ever could. What has happened is women like me who aspire to be engineers are now greatly discouraged. If this man was able to pass Google’s rigorous algorithmic based interview process and land a position at one of the most valuable companies in the world, what does that mean for us? Google’s new Vice President of Diversity, Integrity & Governance Danielle Brown released a statement.
“Part of building an open, inclusive environment means fostering a culture in which those with alternative views, including different political views, feel safe sharing their opinions.”
I think it’s important that we discuss how this is not an opinion or a political view. This is not freedom of speech, this is an attack on his coworkers and peers. For him to receive no punishment for this document is absolutely heart-breaking to me. How I see it, every woman and PoC in tech was just told that they’re not smarter than their white, male peers simply because of their biological makeup. To write this off as a “difference in opinions” is luke-warm bullsh*t. The actions of this man had a rippling effect in the community, causing the smartest of women to question their positions. Why would Google be okay with this? Eight out of 10 technical employees at Google are men while 1% are African American and 3% are Hispanic. With numbers like this, how can Google let intolerance of minorities be considered an opinion?
Many also say that we have to think how this man hurt Google’s reputation, but Google will be fine. As of May 2017, Google is worth $648.092 billion. This is nothing but a blip on their map, and they reacted accordingly. People will still apply to Google and we will all still use Chrome, Go, and all of their amazing products, services, etc. Google knows this and they’re not worried about the manifesto in the slightest, I mean, they didn’t even suspend him. Don’t worry about Google because they are not worried about you.
I say all of this with deep sadness because as many know, being an engineer at Google is my dream job. I had read into their interview process and studied like crazy so I could be their best candidate once I graduate but, as a young woman, I do not think Google is the place for me anymore. I want to work in an environment where my peers are supportive and inclusive of everyone, somewhere I feel safe (cue “you need a safe space!?” nonsensical crap). This is not to say that Google is an evil company and everyone who works there is evil, my favorite engineers in the whole world are on the Go team at Google. To work at Google is a blessing and a dream but as a young woman who idolized this company for a long time, I’m just plain hurt by this, and I’m not the only one.
The community is filled to the brim with brilliant women and PoC, a lot of them are just as young as me. For people who have been in this business a long time, this is hurtful but not the first time you’ve seen something like this. For people my age, teenagers in college, this is kind of life-changing. The tech community has welcomed me with open arms but I’m still shaken up that people like this man exist in tech and they’re allowed to spew their hatred at their peers with no ramifications. Is this the career field I want to involve myself in? Am I, as a young woman, safe in this environment? I shouldn’t have to consider things like this but because of this manifesto, I must re-evaluate what I’m doing here.
As a whirlwind of nasty replies hit me at full force, I questioned my place in tech. Before I could even consider a change in my career focus, my notifications exploded with endless support from a community of absolutely lovable nerds. I found myself happy crying because I couldn’t believe the amount of complete strangers defending me and messaging me with love. It was an absolute magical thing to experience and it made me remember that tech is not filled with ‘manifestbros‘ and bigoted monsters, the majority of tech is computer geeks who just want to talk about computer geek things together. With this renewed faith in my career path, I took to my website and wrote this post because I believe there’s many that lost a little faith in all of this.
To the women, the PoC, the non-binary and gender-fluid, to everyone in-between, your hard work is seen and it is valued. You are doing great things and the community needs you. Please do not let this discourage you from doing what you’re doing. Remember to communicate to your peers and remind them that they are valid and important because now, more than ever, we have to remind each other that we’re in this together.
Thank you for reading and happy hacking! 🙂