I'm attending a talk that will be given by a professor that runs a social-cognitive development lab at our school, and the topic will be about his work that attempts to explain why women are less represented in STEM fields and how early in life this occurs.

I suspect that plenty of STEM faculty and students will attend; moreover, I expect there to be uncomfortable topics regarding gender and race.

To what extent should I participate in question and answer with the speaker, if I see my own colleagues in the audience? I would like to participate actively if I feel I have something interesting to add but that could necessarily be a question about gender and race.

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    You are basically asking "Should I ask this question?" --- well, it depends on the question, on the content of the seminar, on the audience. It's difficult to give an answer in general, I am afraid. Nov 30, 2017 at 7:23
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    @user83667: Said question and this one have very little in common except being about gender, so why should decisions about their closure be correlated?
    – Wrzlprmft
    Nov 30, 2017 at 14:19
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    I voted to close as “unclear what you’re asking” and I stand by that. I can’t figure out what you’re asking. Also I’m not sure why you think it was obvious that you’re a “hetero man” and I’m ignoring you for that reason when your question says nothing about who you are. Nov 30, 2017 at 16:54
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    @user83667 Welcome to AC.SE. Please take a look at our help center. I also do not understand your question. Please be considerate to our users, they are in fact trying to help you get an answer. I am not sure what the transgender women in math question is, but in general we frown upon using the existence of a single question as justification for why another question should be allowed.
    – StrongBad
    Nov 30, 2017 at 23:15
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    @user83667 In reference to my answer, jumping immediately from your question not being accepted to "I would have to jump through so many hoops than someone who initially declares himself or herself a trans-person to get a productive and important dialogue going is ridiculous. I apologize for not being a trans-person..." would be an example of what not to do.
    – Fomite
    Dec 1, 2017 at 1:30

1 Answer 1


I have been to seminars like that, including ones where large numbers of my colleagues are present.

So long as you have meaningful and productive questions (i.e. don't ask a question for the sake of asking one) and ask them as respectfully as you would any other topic, there isn't a problem.

I will note that choosing not to attend is also sending a message, and in the seminar I was in, a number of colleagues expressed disappointment that the room was nearly entirely women (in this case it was about the status of women in the field).

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