The Anita Borg Institute Calls On Female Google Employees To Stage A Protest

In an op-ed addressing the viral Google "anti-diversity" memo that has sparked new questions about sexism, discrimination, and freedom of speech in tech, Elizabeth Ames asks a compelling question: "What if the women who work at Google...didn't?"
Ames is the SVP of Marketing, Alliances, and Programs at the Anita Borg Institute, an organization promoting women's involvement in tech. She's not implying that all women should consider permanently leaving the company, but she is recommending they stage a 24-hour protest to make their voices heard.
Ames said that reading James Damore's internally-circulated memo horrified her, but that it may also present a teaching moment and an opportunity to focus on issues that clearly require more attention.
"There are a lot of gender stereotypes in there and it's well worth it to address the fact that those are false," Ames told Refinery29. "When people walk around with that attitude, they're basically judging people before they walk in the door."
Ames was encouraged by Google CEO Sundar Pichai's message to employees, but believes that now is a time for all Silicon Valley companies to have "difficult conversations" about how women and minorities are treated. She pointed to Uber's investigation into workplace culture, and disturbing stories of sexism in the venture capital community, as recent examples of discrimination.
"I think this is an opportunity to remind people that these are people who work hard every day and that maybe we shouldn't take their contributions for granted," Ames told Refinery29.
Many female Googlers have taken to Twitter to voice their concerns about the memo — these tweets were the ones that initially drew media attention to the document, which was first reported by Motherboard and published in full by Gizmodo. (Google recruits are also reportedly already speaking out.)
"One of the things you've seen happen this year is women honestly telling their stories and experiences," she said. "It takes a lot of courage and in the past there's been a lot of negative consequences for it and people act very surprised when they hear these stories. Although, women are not surprised."
Ames encourages women to continue to engage in these conversations at work, and to speak openly with colleagues about the challenges they face. It's important to show how they feel in light of the memo, even though Damore has left the company.

More from Tech

R29 Original Series