Where the imagination goes, the heart follows.
We need to catch them and support them at that point where their self-esteem drops. Gender was never made an issue in my family - my mum did very well at school and went back to work as a legal secretary after she'd had my sister and I. Although I wasn't exactly encouraged in my love of science and pursuing a career in it, there was never any 'you're a girl so you can't do it.' Somehow that idea of gender deciding abilities is ingrained in society and somehow we need to purge it.
One encouraging thing, my hubby (Geologist at ExxonMobil) is only guy on his team of very bright, very savvy women. He's also had several female supervisors. In my day, yeah, this happened a lot, but I do think things are changing.
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