Claire McDonnell, a graduate student at the University of Iowa, recently went viral with a video showing exactly how often she is interrupted by male classmates during Zoom classes.
In an interview with BuzzFeed, McDonnell said this has been an ongoing issue for her and the three other women in her graduate program.
"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."
McDonnell filmed the viral video during a Zoom call about a group project in which she was constantly interrupted and dismissed by male classmates. She said she originally only intended to send the video to certain people, including another woman in her program.
After watching the video, though, McDonnell thought it was a great example of what women in male-dominated fields deal with on a daily basis. She decided to make the post public on Tuesday and the video took off almost immediately, with over 771,000 likes as of Monday morning.
From TikTok it migrated to YouTube.
McDonnell's facial expressions say it all in her video.
Being interrupted by male classmates is certainly not a new phenomenon, but the online learning setup definitely made it more of an issue. It can be difficult to know when someone else is trying to speak on a Zoom call, even when you're paying attention and trying not to interrupt.
Interrupting during group calls is far from the only time McDonnell's male classmates fail to see the value in their female fellow student's words.
"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."
"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."
McDonnell told BuzzFeed the most ironic thing about the Zoom call in her video is she has the most real-world experience in the subject of their group project, commercial underwriting, but that didn't seem to matter at all to her classmates.
"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."
What attention she is paid by her male classmates is often entirely inappropriate, according to McDonnell. She said classmates have randomly messaged her to comment on her looks or to ask her out.
Many in the comments on TikTok commiserated with McDonnell, having shared similar experiences in the classroom or on the job—both digital and in-person. Several suggested that she just keep talking as if nobody had interrupted, they'll figure it out eventually.
McDonnell didn't set out to create a viral video, but her situation was just so relatable it caught on almost instantly. Many women in primarily male fields deal with the same situation every day at work or school.
For men who may think this situation is not right and want to change it, McDonnell had this advice:
"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."
Sounds like some pretty good advice.