Ethics, Data Scientists, Google, Wage Discrimination Against Women

Accused of underpaying women, Google says it’s too expensive to get wage data by Sam Levin.

From the post:

Google argued that it was too financially burdensome and logistically challenging to compile and hand over salary records that the government has requested, sparking a strong rebuke from the US Department of Labor (DoL), which has accused the Silicon Valley firm of underpaying women.

Google officials testified in federal court on Friday that it would have to spend up to 500 hours of work and $100,000 to comply with investigators’ ongoing demands for wage data that the DoL believes will help explain why the technology corporation appears to be systematically discriminating against women.

Noting Google’s nearly $28bn annual income as one of the most profitable companies in the US, DoL attorney Ian Eliasoph scoffed at the company’s defense, saying, “Google would be able to absorb the cost as easy as a dry kitchen sponge could absorb a single drop of water.”

Disclosure: I assume Google is resisting disclosure because it has in fact has a history of engaging in discrimination against women. It may or may not be discriminating this month/year, but if known, the facts will support the government’s claim. The $100,000 alleged cost is chump change to prove such a charge groundless. Resistance signals the charge has merit.

Levin’s post gives me reason to doubt Google will prevail on this issue or on the merits in general. Read it in full.

My question is what of the ethical obligations of data scientists at Google?

Should data scientists inside Google come forward with the requested information?

Should data scientists inside Google stage a work slow down to protest Googles’ resistance?

Exactly what should ethical data scientists do when their employer is the 500 pound gorilla in their field?

Do you think Google executives need a memo from their data scientists cluing them in on the ethical issues here?

Possibly not, this is old fashioned gender discrimination.

Google’s resistance signals to all of its mid-level managers that gender based discrimination will be defended.

Does that really qualify for “Don’t be evil?”

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