Google CEO to hold town hall meeting on controversial memo on diversity

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (KGO) -- Google's CEO Sundar Pichai is holding a town hall with employees today to address a controversial memo that was written by a former employee.

James Damore criticized Google's diversity initiatives and argues "biological differences" between men and women are behind the gender pay gap in tech. He also paints Google culture as being "intolerant to the right."

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Damore spoke with conservative YouTuber Stefan Molyneux about his memo and firing. Damore says he values diversity but insists that by recognizing differences, the workplace can be improved.

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"I'm not saying any of the female engineers at Google are worse than the male engineers, I'm just saying this may explain some of the disparity in representation," said Damore.

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Google fired Damore after his post went viral, saying his words violated their code of conduct by "advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace."

Women only represent 20 percent of Google's technical staff -- numbers like that are not uncommon at Silicon Valley companies. It's an issue being addressed today at the 2017 Silicon Valley Leadership Group Education Summit being held at Microsoft in Mountain View.

"40 percent of girls and up to 60 percent of students of color by the 4th grade have already said I don't like science, I'm not good at science. I don't like math, I'm not that good at math," said Eileen Yang, Genentech.

Eileen Yang works for Genentech's Science Education Initiative with South San Francisco Unified School District. She says controversies surrounding diversity in Silicon Valley, like the engineer's memo, can prompt helpful discussions, but the real change comes through mentoring.

"For us it's really about engaging all of our assets, our dollars, but most importantly our employees who serve as wonderful mentors, coaches and really providing a mirror to students who say hey, you can do this as well," said Eileen Yang, Genentech.

The employee town hall meeting will take place at 4 p.m.

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