Google has fired the author of a controversial internal memo that argued that biological gender differences are a factor in the lack of women in computer programming jobs, according to multiple reports.
In a note to employees that was posted publicly Monday night, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that he would be cutting short an overseas trip to address the tensions caused by the memo, which criticized the company for programs dedicated to closing the gender gap. Pichai also said that certain parts of the memo violated the company’s code of conduct.
“To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK,” Pichai wrote.
Google did not immediately respond when asked to confirm the firing, which was reported by Bloomberg.
The 10-page memo was published by Gizmodo on Saturday. It was written and circulated internally by a software engineer who argued that the lack of women in certain professions is in part a result of women being more susceptible to “neuroticism.”
“We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism,” the memo reads.
In his note, Pichai also said that the author had a right to voice concerns about certain company policies and stressed that he hoped to maintain a workplace culture that allowed for dissent.
“At the same time, there are co-workers who are questioning whether they can safely express their views in the workplace (especially those with a minority viewpoint),” he wrote. “They too feel under threat, and that is also not OK.”
“People must feel free to express dissent,” Pichai continued. “So to be clear again, many points raised in the memo — such as the portions criticizing Google’s trainings, questioning the role of ideology in the workplace, and debating whether programs for women and underserved groups are sufficiently open to all — are important topics.”