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?