By David Ingram and Jonathan Allen
SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK (Reuters) – The male Google engineer fired for circulating a memo decrying the company’s diversity hiring program became the centre of a heated debate on sexism, drawing scorn, cheers and even a job offer on Tuesday from WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange.
James Damore, 28, confirmed his dismissal from Alphabet Inc’s Google on Monday, after he wrote a 10-page memo that said the company was hostile to conservative viewpoints and shaped by a flawed left-wing ideology.
The manifesto was quickly embraced by some, particularly on the political right, branding him a brave truth-teller. Others found his views, which argued that men in general may be biologically more suited to coding jobs than women, offensive.
Assange, praised by some for exposing government secrets and castigated by others as a nation security threat, offered Damore a job.
“Censorship is for losers,” Assange wrote on Twitter. “Women & men deserve respect. That includes not firing them for politely expressing ideas but rather arguing back.”
Legal and employment experts noted, however, that companies have broad latitude to restrict the speech of employees and that First Amendment protections do not apply in the workplace. Some argued that Damore’s views left Google little to no choice but to terminate his employment, because he had effectively created a hostile work environment for women.
Damore said in an email on Monday that he was exploring a possible legal challenge to his dismissal. His title at Google was software engineer and he had worked at the company since December 2013, according to a profile on LinkedIn.
The LinkedIn page also says Damore received a PhD in systems biology from Harvard University in 2013. Harvard said on Tuesday he completed a master’s degree in the subject, not a PhD. He could not immediately be reached on Tuesday.
Silicon Valley tech companies have been under mounting criticism for not doing enough to promote gender equality and stamp out sexual harassment.
The U.S. Labor Department is investigating Google to see whether the firm has unlawfully paid women less than men. Google denies that it does.
Industry experts note that in the early days of tech it was mostly women who held the then-unglamorous jobs of coding. But as the value of top-notch programming became clear, it became a mostly male domain and the vast majority of programmers in the tech industry are now men.
Other tech companies on Tuesday were closely…