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SAN FRANCISCO — The organizers wanted to do something different with their new meeting, as a corrective to what frustrated them about the usual scientific gatherings. And then one of the planners suggested an idea: What if they only invited women on stage?


The decision to invite only female speakers to the microbiome conference at the University of California, San Diego, this week was meant to make a statement about how scientific meetings ought to be organized. Instead, the move has ignited a minor controversy, thrusting a gathering about a technical scientific subject into the culture wars.

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