‘Is it true?’

Top Google exec responds to explosive memo on gender diversity with deeply personal essay

Youtube CEO Susan Wojcicki (Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)

In an essay written for Fortune, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, one of the top executives at the video platform’s parent company, responded to a controversial memo sent out by a since-fired Google employee in which he argued against gender and diversity initiatives the company had implemented and blamed the gender disparity at the search giant on “biological” differences between men and women.

“After reading the news,” Wojcicki wrote, “my daughter asked me a question. ‘Mom, is it true that there are biological reasons why there are fewer women in tech and leadership?”

“That question,” she added, “has weighed heavily on men throughout my career in technology.”

Wojcicki went on to explain that arguments about whether women are suited for leadership or tech roles were loaded attempts at justifying the way women in tech are treated. On numerous occasions, she recalled, she was left out of “key industry events and social gatherings,” had external leaders disregard her in favor of more junior male colleagues, and even heard her own ideas “ignored until they were rephrased by men.” The memo author, she further noted, attempted to justify his views through science — but she argued, citing a LinkedIn post by psychologist and author Adam Grant, that science has shown his claims say more about stereotypes in culture than they do about biology.

To illustrate her point, Wojcicki asked how people would have responded to the memo if it had argued that Black, Hispanic, or LGBTQ employeees were biologically unsuited for tech and leadership roles.

“I don’t ask this to compare one group to another, but rather to point out that the language of discrimination can take many different forms and none are acceptable or productive,” she wrote.

As for far-right critics who feel that firing the memo author was a violation of free speech, Wojcicki had a straightforward and uncompromising response. And responding to her daughter’s question, she concluded, was even simpler.

Back in April, Wojcicki appeared on a panel at the Women in the World New York Summit in which she and other women business leaders discussed misogyny in the workplace. Below watch a video of the entire discussion.

Read Wojcicki’s full essay at Fortune.


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