The media is astir over a memo James Damore, a Google engineer, sent to his colleagues this week. While Damore starts off with a reasonable argument about censorship and viewpoint diversity, readers in and outside Google found his claims about women so offensive that his better points are completely undermined. Damore likens hiring for diversity to “lowering the bar” and goes so far as to say biological differences between men and women are to blame for the lack of gender diversity in the tech sector. Business Insider quickly compiled research that disproves his claims. Google fired Damore, and there is heated debate over whether that was the right action to take.
Women are more likely than men to be promoted to the C-suite of an unstable company. Once there, women struggle to get the support and maintain the authority they need to pick the company back up. Companies run by women are 34% more likely to be the target of activist investors– investors who aim to control the direction of the company. In some cases, activist investors decide to remove women leaders. Women may end up in challenging roles because entrusting a woman to lead a sure winner seems risky, but taking a flyer on something that may fail anyway seems like a better bet. Women may also be more up to the challenge: they are held to a higher standard and need to work harder than men in order to be taken seriously.
Phillis Rambsy, a Black female lawyer, recounts her experiences with everyday bias. She recalls being mistaken for administrative help, even when she’s sitting at mediation tables or entering courtrooms. How she decides to wear her hair each day makes for more uncomfortable moments. She explains how difficult it is to express her concerns about bias in ways that don’t perpetuate the image of an “angry Black woman.” Rambsy points out that low representation of Black women in law nurtures the everyday type of bias she experiences– only 4% of U.S. attorneys were Black in 2010. The result is that people are constantly surprised to see her and to hear that she is, in fact, a lawyer.