YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki on Why 'Google Memo' Writer Had to Be Fired

Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Fortune
Susan Wojcicki speaks onstage at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit 2016 at Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel on Oct. 18, 2016 in Dana Point, Calif. 

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has put into simple terms why James Damore, writer of the memo arguing against diversity initiatives at Google, had to be fired. In an appearance on Kara Swisher's Recode Decode podcast, Wojciki said Damore's view that female engineers are inferior to men is a direct contradiction to what Google is trying to accomplish as a company.

Wojcicki noted that Damore conducted his first interview on his memo with a YouTube creator. "That’s fine to have on the platform. We have lots of rules, but we tolerate -- we enable a broad, broad range of topics to be discussed, from all different points of view... But it’s different if you’re within a company trying to promote more women."

She added, "Think about if you were a woman and James Damore was on your promotion committee, or to just see that the company was enabling this type of harmful stereotype to persist and perpetuate within the company."

Wojcicki recalled talking about the subject of Damore's memo with her children. “The first question they had about it [was], 'Is that true?'... That really, really surprised me, because here I am, I’ve spent so much time, so much of my career, to try to overcome stereotypes, and then here was this letter that was somehow convincing my kids and many other women in the industry, and men in the industry, convincing them that they were less capable. That really upset me."

Looking ahead, the executive said she was hopeful that tech companies will become increasingly diverse, but that she believes more could be done in schools. "Computer science is a more useful skill right now than a lot of other things that people are learning at school. I don’t want to say one is better than the other -- they’re all important. But there’s no computer science being taught for many, many students, so that’s really a problem."


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