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Google's diversity crisis worsens, CEO cancels town hall

Google discrimination

The tech giant planned the town hall meeting for Thursday following days of scrutiny over a controversial memo on the company's diversity initiatives written by engineer James Damore.

"We had hoped to have a frank, open discussion today as we always do to bring us together and move forward", wrote Pichai.

In a memo to staff on Thursday a half-hour before the meeting was to start, CEO Sundar Pichai announced that they had canceled it, saying, "Googlers are writing in, concerned about their safety and anxious they may be "outed" publicly for asking a question in the Town Hall".

"Googlers are writing in, concerned about their safety and anxious they may be "outed" publicly for asking a question in the town hall". Should you feel free to speak up? However, Damore says it is really the biological differences between men and women that are responsible for the gender gap.

Then Damore was sacked - according to media reports and his own email to the far-right news website Breitbart - which ignited backlash from those claiming Google was stifling free speech and politically conservative viewpoints.

Sources inside Google said some employees had begun to experience "doxxing" - online harassment that can take various forms and is defined as "searching for and publishing private or identifying information about [a particular individual] on the internet, typically with malicious intent".

The lack of gender and racial diversity within the technology industry is a long-term issue, with the sector traditionally viewed as a bastion of educated caucasian men, something that Google and other have been attempting to turn around, but the search company had been handed a double-edged sword with Damore.

Then, on Monday, Damore was sacked, shortly after Pichai said he had violated the company's code of conduct by perpetuating gender stereotypes.

"I don't know how they can expect to silence so many engineers and deny science like this", he said.

Women who work in the industry are increasingly choosing to speak out about their experiences in this male-dominated domain, and to challenge the statistics that demonstrate that they remain a minority, despite high-profile campaigns and initiatives aimed at redressing the balance. "You belong here and we need you".

One post showed him standing outside Google's Mountain View campus holding a sign that reads "fired for truth".

Google and other tech companies have pushed to increase the number of women, blacks and Latinos in technical jobs.

The town hall was meant to hear out employee grievances over a flare-up that has consumed Google for much of the week.

At first glance, Damore's shirt looks to bear Google's colorful logo but it actually displays the word "Goolag"-a play on the infamous Soviet Union agency Gulag, which administered the forced-labor camp system".