Cracking the code on sexism

Tech giant Google is still grappling with the aftermath of a male employee’s sexist manifesto that went viral last week and got him fired on Monday. The brouhaha came only a few months after Google announced the hiring of a new VP of diversity, who was brought in to help the company tackle its widely-criticized diversity problem.

Google, of course, denounced the male engineer’s rant. Many of its lead engineers – fittingly enough – took to the Twittersphere to slam the memo’s anti-diversity message. Others in the tech community, including former female employees of Google, also vocalized their frustration over the exhausted issue of sexism in tech that continues despite the company’s best efforts.

But the article raises a deeper question: Was the manifesto a rogue happening from a male worker who felt threatened by the company’s increased efforts to diversify its environment? Or, was it a peek into a quiet minority of the tech company that still clings on to the belief that women are simply not equal to men? A portion of the 10-page manifesto may point to the latter, as the author shares his discontent at being unable to express his beliefs freely due to Google’s diversifying culture.

Sexism and gender biases in the workplace are hardly exclusive to the tech industry, and Google is certainly not the only company that has struggled with this publicly. Just last week, Uber’s search for a new female CEO – a public move by Uber to divert attention from its history of sexual harassment – reportedly came up empty after several women turned the company down. The list of those uninterested included Susan Wojcicki (chief of YouTube), Mary Barra (chief exec at GM), and Meg Whitman (chief exec at HP). Uber did manage to find three male candidates.

The lack of female interest in the job wasn’t all that surprising, given the backlash most female executives receive when unable to turn-around a company. A 2013 report found that white women, and women and men of color, were more likely than white men to get promoted to CEO at a company struggling to stay afloat.

“As much as I would love to see more women chief executives, too often women get the cleanup jobs, and I’d prefer to not always see women get the cleanup jobs,” said Elizabeth Ames, senior vice president at the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology.

So how can companies come up with genuine solutions instead of showy efforts that do nothing but scratch the surface? Jeff Reid, a professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, argues it can’t just be a one-off fix, like hiring a female CEO or sending employees off to unconscious-biases retreats.

“When you’re talking about an issue that’s part of your culture, it takes a concerted effort to change culture. It starts with consistent messaging and actions,” Reid said.

NATASHA ISHAK


BEACON HILL

The state’s human trafficking law, passed five years ago, appears to be working. (Enterprise)

Lobbying spending on the pot law during the first six months of the year totaled more than than $300,000, a relatively small amount given the high stakes involved.. (Boston Herald)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty is pushing a City Council resolution directing municipal officials to do all they can to lure the Pawtucket Red Sox away. (Telegram & Gazette) Roberta Schaefer and Rick Rushton do a point-counterpoint on whether attracting the ball team is a good idea for Worcester. (Telegram & Gazette)

Despite serving a community with just 100,000 residents, the Brockton Fire Department by several measurements is one of the busiest in the country. (Enterprise)

After a personal appeal from cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the residents of Lenox track down the missing dog of a guest conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. (Berkshire Eagle)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Attorney General Jeff Sessions fires back at Chicago after the city files a lawsuit challenging proposed financial sanctions against sanctuary cities. (Associated Press)

A handful of experts on a panel at the National Conference of State Legislatures said it was unlikely the federal government will crack down on states that permit marijuana use and sales. (State House News)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren puts a hold on the nomination of President Trump’s nominee to run the Justice Department’s antitrust division. (Bloomberg News)

ELECTIONS

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s girlfriend, Lorrie Higgins, makes a rare appearance at a campaign event. (Boston Herald)

A Herald News editorial says same-day voter registration won’t increase voting but will increase the financial burden on cities and towns.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Hackers demand millions in bitcoin for stolen HBO files. (New York Times)

EDUCATION

The Lowell Public Schools for the second year in a row had only one bidder for its bus service contract, and the bidder raised its fees and laid plans to use older buses. (Lowell Sun)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Brigham and Women’s Hospital fell out of the top 20 in US News and World Report rankings. (Boston Globe)

An Eagle-Tribune editorial says it is time to put an end to bed licenses and the speculation in nursing home beds.

Hospitals in the Salem/Beverly area are spending 25 percent on community benefits than they did five years ago. (Salem News)

Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy says it is hypocritical for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to sell products that allegedly protect against injury while refusing to discuss his own concussion history.

Nurses picket Baystate Health’s Springfield headquarters. (MassLive)

TRANSPORTATION

Negotiations between the MBTA and its machinists union over the privatization of three garages are going nowhere fast. (CommonWealth)

Rep. William Straus, the House chairman of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee, said he would like to see a portion of Logan Airport parking fees go to maintain the Boston Harbor tunnels. (Boston Globe)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A government report finds climate change is having a dramatic impact on the United States, a view that is at odds with the position of the Trump administration. (New York Times)

CASINOS/GAMBLING

A Boston Globe editorial condemns a look-the-other-way attitude that has gone on too long at the Massachusetts Lottery.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A lawsuit alleges lax security at a luxury condo building in South Boston contributed to the deaths of two doctors there at the hands of an intruder. The suit alleges the security guard working the front desk took 20 minutes to call police after receiving a call suggesting an intruder was in the couple’s apartment. (Boston Globe)

Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi testifies at the trial of four Teamsters that she was petrified by their harassment on the day of a shoot in Milton. (Boston Globe)

Fred Weichel, who spent 36 years behind bars for a murder he says he didn’t commit, is now a free man after prosecutors decide not to retry him. (Patriot Ledger)

Five county sheriffs, but not those in Plymouth or Norfolk, will split $500,000 in federal funds as part of a program to address inmate opioid addiction. (Patriot Ledger)

MEDIA

Public broadcasting is faring well financially, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.