A New Memo Leaked From Google: Pregnancy, Discrimination, and Harassment


Pregnancy at the Workplace

A new leaked viral memo from Google proves that big tech companies are not ultimately light years ahead of their corporate counterparts in ages past, as the evangelists would have us believe. The memo, titled "I'm Not Returning to Google After Maternity, and Here Is Why" is the experience of a worker at the tech giant navigating her pregnancy. More than 10,000 Google employees have looked at the 6-page memo which alleges a particular hostility to the human imperative that is childbirth among managers at the highly achievement-oriented company.

“This memo and our many stories are why we are so far from gender equity in the workplace,” observes Amy Nelson at Inc. “This is the reason we lack diversity in boardrooms and why even in 2019 (and even with federal laws in place to protect them) women continue to fear the moment they have to tell their employers they are pregnant. We're not just fighting to break the glass ceiling—we are simultaneously scaling a maternal wall. And it's hard as hell.”

Toni Morrison: Women, Race and Memory

Nobel Prize in Literature winner Toni Morrison died on August 5th. Jezebel remembers her by publishing “Women, Race and Memory,” a speech that she gave at Queens College on May 8, 1989. The talk is printed in full in her final book of essays, The Search for Self Regard. In this particularly thoughtful passage, Morrison wonders why masculinity must always oppose female liberation:

“Rather than limit the definition of feminine to one chromosome, rather than change the definition to elevate the other chromosome, why not expand the definition to absorb both? We have both. Not wanting or needing children should not mean we must abandon a predilection for nurturing. Why not employ it to give feminism a new meaning—one that distinguishes it from woman-worship and from man-awe? The truth is that males are not a superior gender; nor are females a superior gender. Masculinity, however, as a concept, is envied by both sexes. The problem, therefore, is this: the tacit agreement that masculinity is preferable is also a tacit acceptance of male supremacy, whether the “males” are men, male-minded women, or male-dominated women, and male supremacy cannot exist without its genitalia. Each sexist culture has its own socio-genital formation, and in the United States the formation is racism and the hierarchy of class. When both are severed, male supremacy collapses and the sea of contention among women will dry up.”

The full essay here.

2020 Elections: Stereotypes and Double Standards Women Must Navigate

Will a woman become President in 2020? And, further, how are we supposed to gage the chances of such an event’s occurrence some sixteen months ahead of time? There are, we cannot fail to note, a record number of women running, and several of these candidates are polling competitively vis-à-vis their male counterparts. Polling clearinghouse FiveThirtyEight wonders aloud about the chances of a woman getting elected President because, quite frankly, there is no precedent in data gathering of such a situation in American history with so many viable women candidates in the mix.

“Political science research has established that women who run for elected office have to navigate a thicket of stereotypes and double standards (see below) that their male counterparts are unlikely to experience,” the site notes. “And while most scholars agree that partisanship usually overpowers voters’ biases about female leaders, no matter how deeply held, a long and crowded presidential primary could be especially challenging […]”

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Soccer: Equal Pay For Equal Work

Last week the Los Angeles Times’ op-ed page ran an editorial arguing equal pay for equal work. That would seem on the face of it an obvious issue to which a majority of thoughtful people would probably agree. But there are still voices on the libertarian right arguing that US men’s soccer players, which thus far have been more profitable due to prime-time broadcasting thus greater visibility since the dawn of time, deserve to be paid more despite the fact that the women’s team does the same work and is even more successful in terms of victories on the grounds.

This year, as the US Women’s soccer team continued its multi-year dominance of the sport, crowds erupted in spontaneous chants of “Equal pay! Equal pay!” We appear to be at an inflection point, historically, in the fight for gender pay equality. Megan Rapinoe, the brightest star on Team USA, has ably taken up the mantle for equality while US President, Donald Trump, in true villain fashion, has taken the opposite side of the aisle: the invisible hand of free markets.

“On the one hand, it’s depressing that it requires a sports star of Rapinoe’s stature to focus attention on the reality that, more than half a century after the Equal Pay Act passed, women still face wage disparities in just about every workplace,” the unsigned Editorial states. “But we’re glad it is happening and hope it translates into substantive action that benefits women in every profession. Of course, all other things being equal, female athletes should be paid a fair and equal wage for doing substantially the same job that male athletes do, but so should factory workers, food servers, and accountants.”

The full Editorial is worth reading here.

Cover via Business Insider