Category Archives: 3. News You Can Use

The Sexist Remark Heard Around the World

A male software engineer at Google recently wrote a 10-page memo in which he argued that women’s biological makeup causes them to be inherently less suitable for jobs in technology. In his rationale, James Damore named specific characteristics that supposedly make women ineffective tech workers. He wrote that women are drawn toward “feelings and aesthetics rather than ideas” and that these differences explain why women prefer jobs with a more artistic or social bent. He also wrote that women are more neurotic than men, which causes them to experience higher anxiety and lower stress tolerance, which in turn leads to their being underrepresented in high-stress jobs such as those in technology.

The document circulated around the company before making its way into the world, and the ensuing uproar led to Damore being fired.

The incident has ignited a debate about free speech in the workplace, specifically, what happens when an employee expresses an idea offensive in an organization’s corporate culture. In a written response to Googlers about Damore’s dismissal, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the diatribe violated “our code of conduct and cross[ed] the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.” Pichai’s response also noted that the company’s code of conduct requires employees to do “their utmost to create a workplace culture… free of harassment, intimidation, bias, and unlawful discrimination.”

Damore has since complained about his ouster to federal labor officials, saying Google is trying to silence him. However, attorneys knowledgeable about labor law say companies can legally prohibit speech and behavior that either harasses or discriminates against other staff. Furthermore, an organization may fire employees who violate the employer’s values.

Does doing so squelch free speech or provide a safe work environment?


  1. Does Google’s firing of James Damore go against its own platform of encouraging its employees to speak their minds?
  2. What impact might Google’s action have on other employees at the company?
  3. Do you think employees should have free rein to say anything in the workplace environment?





The F-bomb in the Office?

Casual profanity has permeated our language, even at the office, leaving some confused about what’s okay to say.

The root of the problem may lie in the way different generations interpret the use of profanity. Benjamin Bergen, author of What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves, points out that although language is always in flux, today marks the largest gap ever between generational use of curse words. Bergen explains that if a millennial checks his Twitter feed before work and sees the f-word dozens or even hundreds of times, it’s more likely for that individual to use the word later at work when, say, complaining about an empty coffee pot. While some co-workers overhearing the f-bomb may not blink an eye, others, perhaps older colleagues, may take offense.

Another reason for the conundrum surrounding cursing is that today’s young workers do not consider the f-bomb offensive when used to express enthusiasm (That was f-ing awesome!) or as an adjective to indicate a reaction (What the f did she mean by that?) In fact, a recent survey found that 70% of millennials say they curse at work; about a third claim cursing actually helps a team bond. What millennials do find offensive is using the f-bomb to intimidate or berate (You better up your f-ing game or you are out!)

However, some experts contend that use of such language in the workplace does not reflect well on the speaker’s judgment. Many conversations that include the f-word occur between colleagues in common work areas where the profanity can be easily overheard. Although plenty of workers may find a chat splattered with cursing routine, others could consider the practice workplace harassment.

Where to draw the line?


  1. In which work situations should you never use a curse word?
  2. What are the pros and cons of policies that regulate workplace language?
  3. What is the best way to judge whether to inject profanity into a conversation?

Job Outlook News Is Good and Bad

First, the good news: For the eighth year in a row, employers are hiring more college graduates.

The bad news? According to a recent survey, many new grads are not measuring up to employers’ expectations.

The survey questioned approximately 400 employers and 400 new graduates and found disparities between what employers need and what new grads can offer. One of the biggest problems for employers is the lack of qualified candidates. Plenty of positions remain unfilled in the fields of engineering, business, and computer science because not enough students have majored in those fields, the survey found.

The disconnect between employers’ needs and grads’ preparedness goes deeper. Employers are willing to interview candidates who possess just 60 percent of the qualifications for a position. However, one-third of applicants apply to jobs for which they are completely unqualified, according to the survey results.

Employers have plenty to say about new grads they meet during interviews, as well. Too many come to an interview without being familiar with the industry or the organization, employers complain, and not enough ask relevant questions about the position. Over half of the candidates employers talk to display negative body language, dress inappropriately, and do not clearly voice their past experiences. Worse, 75 percent of those interviewed never send a thank-you note to indicate their enthusiasm for the position.

Interestingly, college grads seem to have an inflated sense of their own worth. The survey’s respondents felt confident in their ability to interview well (90 percent) in direct contrast to what employers experienced. As for salary, the grads expected to earn over $53,000 for their first job; the average salary recruiters offered was $45,000.

The jobs are out there. How can students be better prepared to land them?


  1. How can you learn about an organization before you interview? What resources are available to study and help you prepare?
  2. Why do employers consider prior experience so important?
  3. In which ways can you show your communication skills, both written and spoken, at an interview?