Thank you for writing this, Vidya.
I’m not a fan of quotas myself. Can you solve the problem at hand? Great. Fix it. If most of the people who fit that description are men, great.
Where I draw a line is the inference that women are inherently not biologically meant for programming. It’s odd to me, that men don’t seem to see all of the sociological factors that could cause women to turn their heads away from it. Personally, I tested into engineering calculus in college. I took one look at all the men in the CS department, and said, “No thanks.” I’m considering pursuing it again now that there are women’s groups, but do wish it didn’t have to be so lonely for women.
I think the truth here is somewhere in the middle. No, quotas aren’t going to solve this issue. But there should be a baseline that we should not stereotype people based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. I’m tired of hearing stories of women who know PHP, Ruby, and Objective-C, and are asked to organize events or design things. I’m tired of men assuming they have to explain the stack from scratch from me, when clearly my resume shows I would know that information already. We don’t know the factors that cause people to pursue what they do. Can we just agree on that and move on?
Some of the ex-Googlers I’ve worked with had a similar problem — they used data to solve problems, but never seemed to talk to users. Often this can cause confirmation bias. People infer the cause for a particular set of data, but often aren’t asking the right questions in the first place. Perhaps Google could state the problem they intend to solve with diversity, and work from there. Starting with the problem versus mandating a solution would probably be better received.