Image: Anthony Canamucio

The scene: the Baltimore Convention Center, Oct. 16, 2002. The laptops were aligned on the table next to the podium, their owners fidgeting in their seats just below, caffeined up, plugged in, and ready to go. A cacophony of cell phones sounded a final "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" before fading into temporary silence. Visions of stem cells graced the screen as the first speaker quickly checked his slides, and the huge room filled for this first symposium of the 52nd annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics.

Then, disaster.

A booming but disembodied voice launched into a spirited talk on genetic diversity. The speaker was a she, Joanna Mountain, an assistant professor of anthropological sciences and genetics at Stanford University; yet the presenter checking his slides was a he, John Gearhart, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Johns Hopkins University...

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