Google cancels companywide sexism meeting

Google cancels companywide sexism meeting
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Google CEO Sundar Pichai canceled a companywide meeting scheduled for Thursday to discuss sexism and diversity after employees expressed concern that they would be targeted for harassment, the company confirmed to The Hill.

The meeting was intended to address the firestorm that hit Google after it fired the author of an internal memo that argued the company’s efforts to close its gender gaps were misguided.

“We had hoped to have a frank, open discussion today as we always do to bring us together and move forward,” Pichai wrote in an email to employees. “But our Dory questions appeared externally this afternoon, and on some websites Googlers are now being named personally. Googlers are writing in, concerned about their safety and worried they may be 'outed' publicly for asking a question in the Town Hall.”

Dory is an internal forum at Google that the company uses to conduct Q&A sessions.

Recode first reported the meeting’s cancellation.

"We’ll find a better way to help our employees connect and discuss these important issues further," a Google spokesperson said in a statement.

The memo at the center of the controversy argued that the gender gap at Google and in Silicon Valley as a whole was less a result of sexism, and more a result of women being biologically suited for other professions. James Damore, the document’s author, wrote that women are more likely to be neurotic and are more susceptible to stress, while men are genetically predisposed to seek status and thus thrive in hierarchical companies.

Damore has since become a symbol for conservatives who believe that their views are being suppressed.

According to Wired, a conservative media personality took to Facebook this week to post information about several Google employees who criticized Damore’s memo.

“In recognition of Googlers’ concerns, we need to step back and create a better set of conditions for us to have the discussion,” Pichai wrote to his employees. “So in the coming days we will find several forums to gather and engage with Googlers, where people can feel comfortable to speak freely.”

“Over the past two days, I have had the chance to meet with so many people here, and I have read each of your emails carefully,” he added. “The vast majority of you are very supportive of our decision. A smaller percentage of you wish we would do more. And some are worried that you cannot speak out at work freely.”