At the recent 2017 World Science Festival in New York, the greatest minds in STEM came together to share their wisdom with each other and with attendees.
But some, apparently, only wanted to hear what the men had to say.
One attendee, however, wasn't having any of it.
Marilee Talkington was very excited to hear the brilliant minds at a cosmology panel discuss their work.
The panelists included David Albert, George F. R. Ellis, Alan Guth, Veronika Hubeny, Andrei Linde, and Barry Loewer.
That's right — there was only one woman on the panel.
And what Talkington noticed as the panel went on was that the moderator, science writer Jim Holt, let the men speak... but talked right over Hubeny.
(It's also worth mentioning that there were no people of color represented, but that's another story.)
Hubeny is a theoretical physicist and professor at UC Davis. She's done extensive research in quantum gravity and string theory — so it goes without saying she knows what she's talking about just as much as the five male panelists do.
Talkington was livid as she described what happened during the panel:
"He [Holt] asked [Hubeny] to describe her two theories of string theory that seem to contradict one another," she wrote on Facebook. "And THEN, without letting her answer, proceeded to answer for her and describe HER theories in detail without letting her speak for herself. We could clearly see that she was trying to speak up. But he continued to talk over her and dominate the space for several minutes."
"The sexism is beyond blatant. It is happening on stage and NO ONE, not a single other physicist or panelist is stepping in to say anything about it," she continued.
"And I can hear other audience members around me, both men and women becoming more and more agitated with what is happening. Jim Holt, even at one point, asks Veronica a question and she laughs because he has been answering his own questions about her work... and he makes fun of her for 'giggling.'"
Eventually, Talkington couldn't take it anymore and right there, in the middle of the panel, stood up in her seat and loudly said, "LET HER SPEAK, PLEASE!"
The audience erupted in applause and cheers. Holt was clearly embarrassed and made some feeble excuse about how "That always happens to me... do I talk too much? OK, I'll shut up."
It was a very awkward moment.
"Holt eventually sat back, only after saying I was heckling him," Talkington wrote. "And he let her speak. And of course, she was brilliant."
She then went on to describe how, after the panel ended, countless people — men and women both — came up to her to thank her for speaking up and saying something.
It's infuriating that sexism like this still happens, and that so many people are still afraid to say or do anything about it...
... but thankfully, there are a few out there who do.
Read Talkington's full account of what happened here.