I have two sisters. The three of us were regarded, by our parents and teachers alike, as having roughly equal intelligence — and IQ tests in fact confirmed our equality. For a long time, to boot, my sisters had far greater “social” IQ than I. (No, we weren’t tested for that — but, believe me, the evidence was overwhelming.)
The moment I emerged from my mother’s womb, however, my possibilities dwarfed those of my siblings, for I was a boy! And my brainy, personable, and good-looking siblings were not. My parents would love us equally, and our teachers would give us similar grades. But at every turn my sisters would be told — more through signals than words — that success for them would be “marrying well.” I was meanwhile hearing that the world’s opportunities were there for me to seize.
So my floor became my sisters’ ceiling — and nobody thought much about ripping up that pattern until a few decades ago. Now, thank heavens, the structural barriers for women are falling.”