If Kamala Harris can be interrupted on a national stage, women in STEM fields must have it even worse, as STEM grad student Claire McDonnell depicted in a viral TikTok video.
Claire McDonnell is a graduate student at the University of Iowa. In a now-viral TikTok video, she displayed just how many times she is interrupted during virtual class by the men in her program. There are only three other women in her course, so this has proven to be an ongoing problem. In an interview with Buzzfeed, she stated, "Some of us girls have the top standings in the program, and no matter how experienced we are, none of the men seem to take us seriously." Her viral clip depicts what a typical Zoom call looks like for her; she was sadly interrupted and dismissed by her male classmates several times.
Originally, McDonnell only intended to send the video to a couple of other women, in addition to her woman peers in her program. However, after watching through the video, she decided it was the perfect example of what women experience in fields dominated by men on a daily basis. Therefore, she decided to make the post public. It took off almost immediately. At the beginning of the week, it already had over 770,000 likes on the video-sharing platform. This is perhaps her experience is completely relatable. Dozens of other women have expressed that they too understand her frustration.
"This happens on a daily basis. There would be an assignment we [the other STEM women] would help other classmates with, and they would take credit for it," McDonnell said. "If we present an idea, whether it's theoretical or any type of opinion, it's always like they're very hesitant to believe it. And if they do believe it, then they take the credit like, I already knew that, and repeat it to other people and claim it as their own." Her case, in particular, is especially annoying. She has the most real-world experience, but her classmates do not seem to care. She explained, "When I recorded that, it was just funny because I've worked in commercial underwriting for years, and [the assignment] was the same thing I did in that role. I have the most experience [out of] anyone."
When she does receive attention, it is completely inappropriate. The men in her class have randomly messaged her to comment on her looks or to ask her out. Sadly, she is not the only woman to go through this. McDonnell recognized, nonetheless, that men who think this is not right had the power to change the status quo. She urged them to speak with their peers. The STEM student stated, "You can't change the way they view women overnight, but stepping back and listening. If I have something to say, just listen. And not just listen, but implement what I and other women are saying. From an outside perspective, you almost have to laugh at how awful it is. It's a very serious issue that brings to light how many women experience it. It's something that needs to change. Men have to be willing to make those changes."