The following paper was originally a talk delivered at the Research Conference on Educational Environments and the Undergraduate Woman, sponsored by HERS , New England, at Wellesley College last year.
One manifestation of the rigid division of sex roles in our society is the fact that relatively few women are scientists, especially physical scientists and mathematicians. My interest in addressing the subject of women and the science curriculum stems from my desire to change this situation, to allow equal access of men and women into science. The college curriculum is only a small part of this problem. The different socialization of girls and boys, especially with regard to mathematical ability and career aspirations, starts early. We each have our own personal stories to tell in this regard. Mine is from the fifth grade when I had my "doctor-nurse" argument with my teacher. He insisted that I had not meant it when I had said I wanted to be a doctor, that I really intended to become a nurse. In the process of arguing indignantly with him, I learned a great deal about the outside world. The point, of course, is that many things shape the development of boys and girls well before they enter college. These include early socialization, the lack or presence of female role models, and the role of peer pressure.