In August of 2017, a Google software engineer published a 10-page manifesto titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.” The author argues that women are underrepresented in tech not because they face bias and discrimination in the workplace, but because of inherent psychological differences between men and women. This manifesto states that the search giant’s left-leaning biases are shutting down conversations about its flawed diversity agenda.
The manifesto talks about making “software engineering more people-oriented with pair programming and more collaboration” but that this is fundamentally limited by “how people-oriented certain roles and Google can be;” and even more surprisingly, it has an entire section titled “de-emphasize empathy,” as one of the proposed solutions. People who haven’t done engineering, or people who have done just the basics, sometimes think that what engineering looks like is sitting at your computer and hyper-optimizing an inner loop, or cleaning up a class API. However, engineering is not the art of building devices; it’s the art of fixing problems.
Essentially, engineering is all about cooperation, collaboration, and empathy for both your colleagues and your customers. All of these traits which the manifesto described as “female” are the core traits which make someone successful at engineering. It’s true that women are socialized to be better at paying attention to people’s emotional needs and so on — this is something that makes them better engineers, not worse ones. Therefore, in my short typographical series, titled “Redacted + Remixed: Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” I simply redact sections from this manifesto to tell a different version of this story (each six words or less) about diversity in technical spaces. I included the original subtitle for each section to rethink the way these topics were approached in the original manifesto.
For contrast, a link to the original manifesto: https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3914586/Googles-Ideological-Echo-Chamber.pdf
I thought for a while about which text to appropriate for this assignment. I was inspired by a text posted in Edmodo where pieces of the discussion were redacted to tell a new, inspiring version of the same, hateful piece. Over the summer, while listening to National Public Radio in the car, I heard about this manifesto a Senior Google employee posted about the gender gap in technological spaces being due to a woman’s innate biological differences.
While I thought the story was interesting, I had never taken the time to persinally research into the manifesto. I used this assignment as an opportunity to do so. I pushed myself to tell each small narrative about the larger topic in six words or less. While reading the longer manifesto, I found myself getting lost in the narrator’s long run on thoughts. Thus, for this assignment, I contrasted the topic as well as the structure to that of the original piece.
This past week, I also came across an interesting “Remix” of Google Translate. I thought it was interesting to see how the softwares (male…?) engineers create carry through the same biases apparent in technical workspaces.