Our Response to the PSU Event Featuring James Damore
Portland Women in Technology exists to encourage women to join tech and support and empower women so they stay in tech. Given this mission, we feel strongly that we must speak out when women and other underrepresented groups in our community feel marginalized in spaces where they have a right to feel safe.
When Portland State University (PSU) announced James Damore was speaking on the PSU campus, we received an outpouring of concern from our community, including students of PSU. Damore is the ex-Google engineer who published an internal manifesto meant to challenge Google’s perceived reverse discrimination. This document included views of women having “biological differences” making them unqualified for roles in engineering.
We believe and respect that James Damore is entitled to speak freely on his opinions, even if they are in direct conflict of our mission. However, we are disheartened and appalled that Freethinkers PSU, a student body group whose mission is to promote open inquiry through critical thinking and rational discussion, is engaging in discourse without an opposing viewpoint. The conversation between Damore and Professor Boghossian, ostensibly about diversity, approaches the territory of creating an unwelcoming and unsafe atmosphere at PSU for women working in and studying STEM fields.
As such, Portland Women in Technology would like to extend an open invitation to anyone who feels unsafe or marginalized, as a result of the event, to our community. We host a number of events monthly, have a mentorship program and inclusive online communities through Facebook and Slack.