When she was in high school, my mother-in-law took an aptitude test. She had an exceptional mind for engineering, the test said, scoring in the 99th percentile for math and science. As a woman who excelled in science, her guidance counselor told her, she would make a perfect librarian.
It’s a moment that changed her life. When the door to a career in science was closed on her face and she was told to pursue a woman’s job instead, she listened. She never became an engineer, but every time she tinkered with a broken household appliance, she would wonder what might have been.
Today, women have a lot more opportunities than our parents’ generation did, but that doesn’t mean their prospects are completely equal. Even with laws that promise equal careers, women have to struggle against the weight of history.