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As questions for the town hall have been leaked publicly, many employees were afraid that their queries could be construed as a public outing of their sentiments regarding diversity at Google.

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.

"Definitely those who aren't on the left feel like they need to stay in the closet and not really reveal themselves", Damore said in his interview. They, in turn, have been targeted on social media by alt-right pundits such as Breitbart News.

On that basis, he has a fighting chance, according to Valerie L. Sharpe, a labor lawyer based in the San Francisco area. Why is the tech giant more comfortable with protecting a shady classified ad site's right to free expression than one of its own employees who - unlike child traffickers who use Backpage - did nothing criminal? Or that a combination of the factors I describe at the top of this post has created an excessive male skew in technological employment at Google and other tech firms, even if ideal personnel practices would not eliminate the skew entirely? Breibart Media recently published a story in which an employee accuses Google of initiating internal "witch hunts" and "purges" against anyone not adhering or agreeing with Google's diversity policy, though Google has denied this. Others called for a Google boycott.

Damore told Peterson he has mostly declined to speak to the mainstream news outlets because they will "twist whatever I say towards their agenda".

Googlers, on the other hand, have overwhelmingly expressed their rejection to the ideas exposed in the manifesto, but other dissenting voices have supported James Damore's perspective on Silicon Valley's corporate culture.

In the memo, Damore said that "biological causes" are part of the reason women are underrepresented in tech departments and senior management positions.

But the manifesto was specifically worded.

When he initially circulated the memo, "no one high up ever came to me and said, 'No, don't do this, ' even though there were many people who looked at it", Damore said.

"I have conducted probably 100 workplace investigations to assess whether employee complaints about harassment and discrimination violate employer codes of conduct and I am not sure I would find this to be a violation of a Code that merely prohibited "unlawful" harassment and discrimination", Sharpe says. He criticised Google for pushing mentoring and diversity programmes and for "alienating conservatives". Brown too sent a memo to Google employees, which said: "We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company", Brown said in the statement. Pichai acknowledged that the memo had affected employees some of whom he said were hurt because they felt they were being judged only on gender.