I think this is a Jamesian semantic disagreement. If you were never
encouraged and no one ever spoke to you of other options, the unspoken
but very clear message was that there WERE NO science options. That is
discouragement. So if your brother would have been "encouraged," but
you were not even offered a discussion, you WERE discouraged. That is
how much cultural construction happens: there simply is no way but the
accepted or assumed one that is even presented.
I often, in intro to Women's Studies classes, have students interview a
mother or grandmother or other older woman on their life. They are
always amazed (I of course am not) at how constantly they all hear "
when I was your age there were only three things a woman could
be--secretary, nurse, teacher." That was the set of options; that was
it. And if I tell them that, it has little effect. When half the class
hears the same line and reports it, they realize the power of indirect
discouragement. So few women, the rare tough ones who refused to be
discouraged, tried for other things.
Even when I went to graduate school, I was just apparently too dumb to
notice that I was not there in the faculty. In 13 years of college, I
had one (1) woman professor. She was in the school of education. And
it was not because I avoided them. They were not there. I'm sure
Carroll will remember even a little earlier that there were simply no
women at all in the English Department at Michigan though 50% of grad
students were women. We did not notice we were in a fool's game. And
yet women are better at verbal skills. How little "science" or
"interests" directed the department's faculty choice.
It is not true that I think society is entirely the cause of different
interests. I said that before. But it is true that society has a very
major part in guiding them, and, in fact, no one knows or even can know
how much because there is no society we can study where such differences
do not exist. There is no critical variable. You have no idea to what
extent gender affects preferences, nor do I. I say "gender" rather than
"sex" because we all know there are girls (genetically, anatomically,
and hormonally) who want to play ball and box and boys (genetically,
anatomically, and hormonally) who want to cook and design dresses. It's
just not a simple matter of equating anatomy or even genes with desire.
If there is any evidence that men any more than women can be limited to
simple categories like "wives and houses are part of plan but not dream"
I cannot imagine what it is. I once knew a man whose whole life
centered on being a father and doing the whole cooking, homework, kids
games bit. He was extremely intelligent but not at all interested in
any career. Parenting was his "dream." And many women have other
My very obvious point is that there is no way to set men and women into
a simple dichotomy.
>>> [log in to unmask] 02/26/05 6:39 PM >>>
I wouldn't say I was discouraged from pursuing a career in science. It
would be more accurate to state that I was not encouraged. I was
to have parents who were able and willing to pay for my college
and they would have paid for it whether I had majored in English or
What they refused to pay for was for an acting school in New York,
my first choice at the time. But, you are correct in that my brother
Bentley as an accounting major. Despite the fact that I had extremely
SAT scores, in both Math and English, no one, not my parents nor any
counselor, spoke with me about any other option other than attending a
Liberal Arts University as an English major. As I said, my parents and
counselor didn't discourage me from pursuing a science education(they
discouraged me from pursuing a career in acting), but I do feel that
had I been
a male, there would have been more of a dialogue, which I believe can
extremely helpful to most 17 and 18 year old kids. I guess we disagree
the "interest" issue in that you believe that society is responsible
creating separate interests. I say that some of it is just natural.
point is that a woman can be a "girlie-girl" type of woman(very
still be a brilliant scientist. The differences between the genders
nothing to do with intellect or competence. And yes, thank god, there
interests which men and women share, and yes, most men want wives and
the difference being, in my opinion, that many men consider this an
essential part of their plan whereas most women consider this an
essential part of
their dream. As for my parents who didn't want me to become a
actress and never even thought of me as a scientist, I was cast in
amateur and semi-Professional productions throughout the years. They
came to every
single one. The last one was about six years ago in Naples, and they
1800 plus miles for opening night.
In a message dated 2/25/2005 11:49:01 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
[log in to unmask] writes:
I don't disagree with any of this except the conclusion that you can
label it "interests." By your own account, you were "interested" in
science and were discouraged from following it. That is, in fact, my
point. Had you been male, I doubt that would have happened.
Being equally uninterested in boxing and soaps, I cannot comment on
that, but no one doubts there are differing "interests" organized by
gender in this culture. But no one has shown they are innate. It
quite possible for women and men to have many, many of the same
interests, both popular and aesthetic. That is why we are all on an
Eliot list and why women go to baseball games and men to romantic
movies. And men, one presumes from their behavior, also want wives
kids and houses.