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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.