Saturday 21 October 2017

That Google heretic might have a point

The future of the world is too important and too scary to be left in the hands of limited men, says Brendan O'Connor

Damore suggests Google should make software engineering more people-oriented. Stock photo: Bloomberg via Getty
Damore suggests Google should make software engineering more people-oriented. Stock photo: Bloomberg via Getty
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

It is widely accepted that we need to have a conversation about men and their limitations. And, thankfully, that conversation is happening. It has been widely accepted, for example, that if there had been more women in charge in areas like banking and finance and property, the financial crash would not have been as bad as it was. It is widely accepted that an overdose of testosterone, of a particular type of man, and not enough people with different perspectives and skills, caused the madness that led to the crash.

Under the spotlight right now in Ireland is the woeful lack of women on boards and in politics. We all agree that diversity - of perspective and of skills - is a good thing, not just for women and for minorities, but for society. And in this there is an implicit agreement that men, especially those who fall into the traditional mould, have huge limitations.

A group of men trying to complete a task can be a recipe for disaster. There tends to be a lack of listening and a lack of people willing to admit they are wrong. Indeed, there will be a very real chance that the project will be done badly because the actual result will take second place to some kind of dumb 'big-d**k' contest between men. This is not to say this is biologically predetermined. Or that it always happens. But it can tend to happen. Women, for whatever reason, can often have a moderating influence on this kind of thing. They can bring different perspectives. They tend to listen more. When women are involved, there is more of a chance that getting the project done properly will take precedence over ego or dominance. Not to say this is biologically predetermined, but it can be true in practice, that women are often better at doing things well than men are.

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