In a message dated 2/26/2005 9:56:44 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
[log in to unmask] writes:

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 don't think it would be entirely fair to blame others for this omission,  
since I was the one who stated to all interested that I wanted to be an  
actress.  I never mentioned science.  I did think of it, even then,  but didn't 
mention it. I didn't mention it to anyone until I was 30.   Then, I told my 
husband of one year about my desire to be a  meteorologist  He told me to go back to 
school and do it, but the idea of  all of those years of school before me  . 
. . and very few of my earned  credits would have counted towards my degree, 
as I had had an entirely  different major.
I felt pressured, as many 17 year old kids do. I  My mother  and guidance 
counselor commented as to my theatric ambitions, " You cant' waste  those SAT 
scores on acting school." And to be fair again, I was just  barely over 700 in 
Math and considerably over in English, so they were  probably using "science" in 
advising me to major in English.

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.  
By the way, my husband took a course in Women's Studies in college when he  
was at Bard. When he came to this country from France, he had a B.A. from  
American University of Paris.  He then attended Bard for year and then  Harvard 
Graduate School for two years.  He took the course because he likes  history and 
politics and women, and also because he hoped to meet an  attractive, 
independent minded woman.  He didn't meet that special woman  while taking the 
course, but he informs me that I am a "girlie-girl" in  appearance only.  He says 
that I come off to others as strong, independent  and opinioned. But, when I was 
17, I wanted to do so many things, and  didn't always make the best 
decisions, so I will not blame anyone else for my  own flightiness at a young age.

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.
In college, I remember one female professor, my French professor.  All  of my 
English professors were male.

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.
Small percentage, exceptions.  I think what I really wanted to say to  you 
was that the women's feminist movement of the 70's didn't move me and many  
others because they were so "anti-men," and yet they dressed like men and  tried 
to act like men.  They weren't my ideal at all. That's one of  the reasons why 
the ERA didn't pass.  My ideal is a woman not being  afraid to show the world 
both her femininity and intelligence.  And did you  see Condi Rice in that 
black outfit and boots dealing with the leaders of  Europe?