Now men’s rights advocates in Silicon Valley have galvanized.
“What Google did was wake up sectors of society that weren’t into these issues before,” said Paul Elam, who runs A Voice for Men, a men’s rights group. He said his organization had seen more interest from people in Silicon Valley.
Silicon Valley has always been a men’s space, others said. Warren Farrell, who lives in Marin, Calif., and whose 1993 book, “The Myth of Male Power,” birthed the modern men’s rights movement, said, “The less safe the environment is for men, the more they will seek little pods of safety like the tech world.”
This turn in the gender conversation is good news for Mr. Damore. “The emperor is naked,” he said in an interview. “Since someone said it, now it’s become sort of acceptable.”
He added, “The whole idea that diversity improves workplace output, it’s not scientifically decided that that’s true.”
Mr. Damore filed a labor complaint against Google in August and said more than 20 people had reached out about joining together for a class-action suit about systemic discrimination against men. He is represented by Harmeet Dhillon, a local firebrand lawyer.
“It’s become fashionable in Silicon Valley for people like James, a white man, to be put into a category of less desirable for promotion and advancement,” Ms. Dhillon said. “Some companies have hiring goals like ‘We’ll give you a bonus if you’re a hiring manager and you hire 70 percent women to this organization.’ That’s illegal.”
Google declined to comment.
Two men who worked at Yahoo sued the company for gender discrimination last year. Their lawyer, Jon Parsons, said the female leadership — Yahoo’s chief executive was Marissa Mayer, before Verizon bought the company — had gone too far in trying to hire and promote women. He tied the suit into today’s women-in-tech movement.
“When you’re on a mission from God to set the world straight, it’s easy to go too far,” Mr. Parsons said. “There was no control over women hiring women.”
He said that his clients, Greg Anderson and Scott Ard, had faced gender discrimination in Yahoo’s media teams and that other teams like cars were headed by women, which to Mr. Parsons was a sign of problems.
“No eyebrows are going to rise if a woman heads up fashion,” Mr. Parsons said. “But we’re talking about women staffing positions — things like autos — where it cannot be explained other than manipulation.”
Those leading Silicon Valley’s gender equality push said they were astonished that just as the movement was having an impact, it opened up an even more radical men’s rights perspective.
“It’s exhausting,” said Joelle Emerson, who runs Paradigm, a company that designs diversity strategies. “It’s created divides that I didn’t anticipate.”
One radical fringe that is growing is Mgtow, which stands for Men Going Their Own Way and pronounced MIG-tow. Mgtow aims for total male separatism, including forgoing children, avoiding marriage and limiting involvement with women. Its message boards are brimming with activity from Silicon Valley, Mr. Altizer said.
Cassie Jaye, who lives in Marin and made a documentary about the men’s rights movement called “The Red Pill,” said that the tech world and the men’s rights community had “snowballed” together and that the rise in the number of people in Mgtow is new.
On the Mgtow message boards, members discuss work (“Ever work for a woman? Roll up your sleeves and share your horror story”), technology (“The stuff girlfriends and wives can’t stand — computers, games, consoles”) and dating (mostly best practices to avoid commitment).
“I think there are a lot of guys living this lifestyle without naming it, and then they find Mgtow,” said Ms. Jaye, who calls herself a former feminist.
Mr. Altizer leads Bay Area Fathers’ Rights, a monthly support group for men to talk about the issues they uniquely face. He became interested in the community after a divorce and said his eyes were opened to how few rights men have. As for the numbers of women in tech, the effort for parity is absurd, he said.
“I’ve been on the hiring side for years,” Mr. Altizer said, adding that he is not currently hiring people. “It would be nice to have women, but you cannot find applicants.”