That Google Memo

I put it off but finally got around to reading the infamous Google memo. As is often the case, the scientists who know the most about the issue seem the least worked up.

As a rule things I repost/retweet don't always represent my beliefs on an issue, the following excerpts generally do:

...a reason proponents of gender equality are reluctant to discuss the question is that it’s so often raised in the way it is in this memo: as a pretext to justify whatever gender gaps exist in a field, regardless of whether the magnitude of those gaps can be explained by such differences, and to dismiss efforts to promote diversity, even when such efforts would remain justified — or even become more justified — with aggregate differences across genders.
— Josh Barrow, Business Insider
There have been (and likely will continue to be) many socio-structural barriers to women working in technological jobs. These include culturally-embedded gender stereotypes, biased socialization practices, in some cultures explicit employment discrimination, and a certain degree of masculinization of technological workplaces. Within this sea of gender bias, should Google use various practices (affirmative action is not just one thing) to especially encourage capable women of joining (and enjoying) the Google workplace? I vote yes. At the same time, should we be able to openly discuss and be informed by some of the real psychological sex differences that might account for variation in men’s and women’s workplace performance? In the right context, I vote yes to that, too.
— David P. Schmitt, PhD
American businesses also have to face the fact that the demographic differences that make diversity useful will not lead to equality of outcome in every hire or promotion. Equality or diversity: choose one. In my opinion, given that sex differences are so well-established, and the sexes have such intricately complementary quirks, it may often be sensible, in purely practical business terms, to aim for more equal sex ratios in many corporate teams, projects, and divisions.

The evolutionary psychology research on sex differences is one of the best reasons to promote sexual diversity in the workplace – and one of the best reasons to expect that there may still be some inequalities of outcome in particular jobs, companies, and industries.
— Geoffrey Miller, PhD
Within the field of neuroscience, sex differences between women and men—when it comes to brain structure and function and associated differences in personality and occupational preferences—are understood to be true, because the evidence for them (thousands of studies) is strong. This is not information that’s considered controversial or up for debate; if you tried to argue otherwise, or for purely social influences, you’d be laughed at.
— Debra Soh, PhD

But the magnitudes tend to be small...

When it comes to abilities, attitudes, and actions, sex differences are few and small.

Across 128 domains of the mind and behavior, “78% of gender differences are small or close to zero.” A recent addition to that list is leadership, where men feel more confident but women are rated as more competent.

There are only a handful of areas with large sex differences: men are physically stronger and more physically aggressive, masturbate more, and are more positive on casual sex. So you can make a case for having more men than women… if you’re fielding a sports team or collecting semen.
— Adam Grant, PhD

And also Scott Alexander's response to Grant, and Grant's counter. As Grant points out, it's a "model of what intellectual disagreement should look like".

If I could sum up my take on the science, it would be this:

I’m not a neuroscientist, but from a lay perspective, my take is that yes, there are some biological differences between the average male and female brain, but that these pale beside a) the way our brain architecture is shaped by stimuli (like years of being told you’re rubbish at maths) and b) the overall effect of culture (eg companies which value presenteeism, or make it hard for women to return after having children, or cover up for senior men who are repeated sexual harassers etc etc).
— Helen Lewis

Links to the above here, here, here, here.