Google’s race and gender makeup is Trade Secret in tech business, says Google

Google, Don’t Be Hypocritical (NBC Bay Area, emphasis mine):

Despite its supposed mission to “organize the world’s information,” Google has fought to hide data about the race and gender makeup of its workforce.

The San Jose Mercury News reported that it had fought for 18 months through Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain data collected by the Department of Labor about the employees of Google and 14 other large Silicon Valley employers.

The question of diversity cuts to the core of Silicon Valley’s values. Investors, entrepreneurs, and managers love to tout the technology industry’s so-called meritocracy, in which talented workers rise quickly to the top. And yet the reality is that the technology industry remains dominated by white males, especially in management.

Google, Apple, Yahoo, Oracle, and Applied Materials successfully argued against the release of the data, claiming it would cause them “commercial harm.”

From Mercury News, Five Silicon Valley companies fought release of employment data, and won (emphasis mine):

Google, the company that wants to make the world’s information accessible, says the race and gender of its work force is a trade secret that cannot be released.

[...]

Experts in the area of equal employment law scoffed at the idea that public disclosure of race and gender data — for example, the number of black men or Asian women in job categories such as “professionals,” “officials & managers” and “service workers” — could really allow competitors to discern a big tech company’s business strategy. A bigger issue, they said, is the social cost of allowing large, influential corporations to hide their race and gender data.

The idea of a tech company’s race and gender makeup being a “trade secret” sounds like John Doerr’s race- and gender-based “pattern recognition” strategy when predicting which tech startups will be successful.

In response to privacy concerns, Google CEO Eric Schmidt had said in December 2009, “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

Via Gawker via Racialicious.

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30 Responses to “Google’s race and gender makeup is Trade Secret in tech business, says Google”

  1. urbia Says:

    “The idea of a tech company’s race and gender makeup being a “trade secret” sounds like John Doerr’s race- and gender-based “pattern recognition” strategy when predicting which tech startups will be successful.”

    It does, and it just demonstrates how complacent the IT industry is allowed to become about its sexism and racism because they myth of meritocracy went unchallenged for so long. It’s harder to challenge privilege when you’re denied access to vital information on which you can build an argument. Their tactic seems to be to obscure this for as long as possible. Thanks for being on top of this, Restructure!

  2. Hmmmm Says:

    What’s the problem? Google’s property, google’s decision. If you don’t like it, start your own.
    Besides I could just as well quote ‘The right to have high standards’ that feminists usually spout.

  3. Restructure! Says:

    What’s the problem? Google’s property, google’s decision. If you don’t like it, start your own.

    Race and gender discrimination are illegal.

    Besides I could just as well quote ‘The right to have high standards’ that feminists usually spout.

    This comment is exactly the problem. You, like many people, believe that white men are automatically more qualified than people of colour and women.

  4. oryxandcrake Says:

    Have it ever occurred to you that there is just more white males than, say, Asian females, in IT? Look at any university where Comp.Sci. is studied. If white males are a majority among IT students, they will be a majority in IT. Easy, isn’t it?

  5. Hmmmm Says:

    “Race and gender discrimination are illegal.”

    Does law define moral, or does moral define law?

    “This comment is exactly the problem. You, like many people, believe that white men are automatically more qualified than people of colour and women.”

    No, I do not, I simply defend googles right to be extremly predjudice, just the same as feminists defend womens’ right to dismiss men with technical professions as ‘nerds’ and ‘unworthy to exist in proximity of women’.

  6. Restructure! Says:

    oryxandcrake,

    Have it ever occurred to you that there is just more white males than, say, Asian females, in IT? Look at any university where Comp.Sci. is studied. If white males are a majority among IT students, they will be a majority in IT. Easy, isn’t it?

    I saw a lot of Asian males in my CS classes. Women were also about 25%.

    Hmmmm,

    No, I do not, I simply defend googles right to be extremly predjudice, just the same as feminists defend womens’ right to dismiss men with technical professions as ‘nerds’ and ‘unworthy to exist in proximity of women’.

    Hmm, I’m a feminist/womanist female geek, and I don’t dismiss men with technical professions as ‘unworthy to exist in proximity of women’, but I think you’re a misogynist, and I wouldn’t want to be in your proximity. Maybe, just maybe, it’s not your geekiness that is turning off women, but your misogyny and sense of entitlement to sexual access to women? In other words, you are seriously creepy.

  7. oryxandcrake Says:

    Restructure! 1. “a lot” does not mean that they were a majority. 25% is not a majority either.
    2. How long ago was that? What was the picture 5 years before that? 10 years? 15 years?

    Re: Hmmmm being a misogynist, I totally agree. He also has evident problems with logic and is prone to sweeping generalizations.

  8. Restructure! Says:

    oryxandcrake,

    The racial demographics are probably more of a function of my city/local area. However, for gender, I saw some data/chart in an industry magazine that showed that the proportion of women in IT was significantly lower than the proportion of women in CS for recent graduates. (Sorry, I cannot provide a reference for this.)

    In any case, it makes no sense for Google to hide this data.

  9. oryxandcrake Says:

    >>that the proportion of women in IT was significantly lower than the proportion of women in CS for recent graduates

    Exactly. That’s why I asked what was the demographic picture 5 and 10 years ago. It is not only recent graduates who work in IT. If, say, 10 years ago CS students were 90% white males, it will surely affect the overall gender/race distribution. Until we have these data, it is more or less groundless to talk about Google discriminating or not discriminating.

    >>In any case, it makes no sense for Google to hide this data.
    It is possible that they do it to prevent unnecessary attacks by people who cannot count or think logically but are always happy to jump to conclusions.

  10. Hmmmm Says:

    Hmm, I’m a feminist/womanist female geek, and I don’t dismiss men with technical professions as ‘unworthy to exist in proximity of women’, but I think you’re a misogynist, and I wouldn’t want to be in your proximity. Maybe, just maybe, it’s not your geekiness that is turning off women, but your misogyny and sense of entitlement to sexual access to women? In other words, you are seriously creepy.

    So, you extrapolating from yourself you can now speak for all women? Besides, nice turn in the second sentence, introducing a possibility as a maybe, and then using this maybe as a truth in the next.

  11. oryxandcrake Says:

    Hmmmm, you really have a problem with formal logic. If at least one woman doesn’t dismiss men with technical professions as unworthy, this means that not all women dismiss men with technical professions as unworthy, therefore disproving your statement.

  12. oryxandcrake Says:

    P.S. In exactly the same way, you cannot say that women dismiss men with technical professions, because you haven’t observed all men and cannot speak for them. At most, you can say that SOME women dismiss SOME men (some of whom happen to have technical professions, one of which happened to be you). So what else is new?

  13. Hmmmmm Says:

    oryxandcrake

    I have never said such a thing. What I have said is that as long as feminism supports some womens’ rigth to dismiss, then the same feminists have to support google’s rigth to dismiss as well.

  14. oryxandcrake Says:

    Huh? “as long as feminism supports some womens’ rigth to dismiss”? Are you saying that apriori women have no right to dismiss a man they do not like, and their right to do so is just some feminist theory?

  15. Hmmmmm Says:

    Nice straw man. I am saying that as long as feminism support some women’s right to dismiss a man before even meeting him, then google has just the same right to dismiss women or asians, or african-americans before interviewing them.

  16. oryxandcrake Says:

    “as long as feminism support some women’s right to dismiss a man before even meeting him”

    Stop bitching. I know hundreds of men in IT who are happily married or have girlfriends. Some of them are even feminists. Therefore, being in IT is not an obstacle to finding a girlfriend; a tendency to whine, or make sweeping generalizations, or just being an asshole, is.

  17. Hmmmmm Says:

    Nice turn there. I am to stop generalizing, but you reserve the right to generalize from your friends.

  18. oryxandcrake Says:

    You definitely have to go back to university and take a course on formal logic.

  19. Hmmmmm Says:

    I count on seeing you there then. The only things you have said so far is the usual feminist tirade.

    1. Women have the right to extreme prejudice
    2. Men and especially men who employ do not have the right to extreme prejudice
    1 and 2 does apparently not cause a contradiction in the feminist formal logical system. I would love a world where there does not exist prejudice and everyone is judged by their person but until then. Women putting down men with technical education, those womens’ loss. Companies putting down women with technical education, those companies’ loss.

  20. Restructure! Says:

    Hmmmmm,

    1. People cannot help who they are attracted to, and are not obligated to date people they are not attracted to. A gay man is not obligated to date women to even out the gender ratio. Even racist white bigots are not obligated to date people of colour.

    2. Employers should not discriminate based on race or gender, because it is illegal, illogical, and it violates people’s rights.

    3. Nice logic there, comparing apples to oranges, and attributing your illogic to feminism.

  21. Hmmmm Says:

    1. No, but somehow an employer should be forced to hire people he doesn’t like.
    2. Does law follow moral or does moral follow law?
    What you are saying is that somehow the law saying that discrimination is bad makes discrimination bad.
    This is a very odd standpoint, since this would lead to the situation that if the law changed tomorrow and said that it was ok to disciminate against say, asian-americans then this would be morally acceptable.
    3. Apples to oranges are your saying, probably since this demonstrated hypocrisy demonstrates a self-contradiction in the feminist moral system.

  22. Restructure! Says:

    Law does not always follow morality, and morality does not always follow law. However, I hope that you at least agree with constitutional rights for a person to be treated equally regardless of race and gender. If you believe that it is perfectly acceptable for women and people of colour to be denied the right to vote and to be property, because you believe in people’s free choice, where “people” = “white men”, then I can’t help you.

  23. Hmmmm Says:

    I am asking you, why do we respect peoples free choice in one field, and not in another? And where does discrimination end?

    Discrimination in the workplace in my opinion is to turn down an applicant because he/she/it happens to have some particular trait. However it is not discrimination to turn down an applicant because of his or her or its personal qualities.

    In the same way I don’t think it is ok for feminism to support womens’ right to say things like ‘I am not interested in med of quality XYZ because …’ I agree with everone’s right to say ‘I am not interested in person X,Y och Z because of the following personal qualities.

  24. Restructure! Says:

    I am asking you, why do we respect peoples free choice in one field, and not in another?

    Because people have a right to work, but they do not have a right to sex.

    Discrimination in the workplace in my opinion is to turn down an applicant because he/she/it happens to have some particular trait. However it is not discrimination to turn down an applicant because of his or her or its personal qualities.

    Explain.

    In the same way I don’t think it is ok for feminism to support womens’ right to say things like ‘I am not interested in med of quality XYZ because …’ I agree with everone’s right to say ‘I am not interested in person X,Y och Z because of the following personal qualities.

    What’s the difference? And why do you think it’s ok for men to do this, but not women?

  25. Hmmmm Says:

    When was it established that everyone has the right to a job, and when did this imply the employers obligation to not disciminate?

    “What’s the difference? And why do you think it’s ok for men to do this, but not women?”

    Do you not see the difference between saying ‘all asian-americans or all native americans, or all african americans have quality XYZ, therefore we do not wish to hire them’ and saying ‘this individual asian-american happened to be a vegetarian, this makes his employment in our butcher house very complicated’.
    If you can not see the difference between these statements, then sorry, I can’t help you.

    The same difference between saying ‘I don’t date men with technical professions’ and saying ‘this particular man with a technical profession happened to be a vegetarian, and since I work as a butcher, it’s going to be complicated’.
    I have never said it is ok for one but not the other. I have asked you that question. My stance is that either predjudice is ok in all field, or it is not ok in any field. There is no shades of gray here. Predjudice is wrong, period.

  26. Restructure! Says:

    But there is no difference between a person saying ‘I am not interested in people in technical professions,’ and ‘I am not interested in person X,Y or Z because they are in technical professions.’

    You have some difficulty with understanding that if you have a sentence with variables or non-specifics, one can substitute anything for the variables.

    You are comparing racial discrimination to discrimination against vegetarians in hiring butchers, undermining your own argument, unless you believe that working in a technical profession is more similar to being of a particular race than being a vegetarian.

  27. urbia Says:

    Re: The numbers of women vs men studying Comp. Sci., I’m just going to copy and paste what I already wrote. :)

    “I find it interesting that some people blame the fact that women don’t pursue Computer Science degrees in the same large numbers as men. Obviously, these white male drop-outs aren’t held to the same standard… they didn’t even graduate. So basically, doesn’t that imply that if you’re not white and male, nobody will ever believe in your competence as a self-taught programmer? This double standard, if left unexamined, may also put a quota on the number of women that can even enter IT, as universities admit and graduate a limited number of CS students.”

  28. Dayita Says:

    Something that none of you have thought of, is that Google might *not* be the white male dominated organization you think it is. My experience of (although outdated now that I live in Europe) of the US IT industry is that the number of immigrants at work in programming shops is simply astounding. Additionally, I remember both Google and u$oft supporting looser restrictions on the H1 visa at a time when there were plenty of software engineers to go around. There are major scams and even a few scandals surrounding the use of hi-tech immigrant labor in the US – but in short, foreigners are cheaper.

    Personally I think that they don’t want to disclose just how much of their workforce is *not* native talent because that could cause other political repercussions for them. Its just easier to refuse to say anything than to partially redact your data.

    And to the point of why – in America, employers are simply required not to discriminate on several bases: race and gender being the two most widely known. Its part of the cost of doing business in America and reflects a value of the individual over superficial labels that was (at one time) widely held in America. So Google just has to suck it up or move out. There is simply *no way* that the racial/gender/age profile of a company can constitute a part of it’s “trade secrets” – unless maybe the trade secret is that they use slave labor.

  29. Holly Says:

    To the person (people) who said it’s natural that Google would be dominated by white males because white males are the ones who study IT… I’m not sure where you are from, but where I live (which is white breat Midwest America)… the majority of IT people are Indian men.

    Sooo… kinda blows that theory.

  30. Holly Says:

    *bread


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