“What a strange decision for a young woman – to study physics.”
When one (female) is told this by one of one’s parents’ acquaintances (male – whose spouse is observing the conversation and, to her credit, looking slightly embarrassed), and the customs advise to not violently speak up for oneself, the remainder of the conversation becomes a bit stilted.
Especially when more comments were to follow. From which I can summarise that the speaker feels that women (“girls”) ought not to study physical sciences or engineering as the pace of these subjects in future working environments (at least he permitted the thought that a female might work in such an environment) would be difficult, what with having to take breaks to have children, and care for both the young and the elderly of the family.
I decided not to doggedly argue the reverse case, because I did not feel like insulting my male friends in similar fields, by implying that they are less capable of taking care of family members, or showing the responsibility and maturity required to raise children. Which is effectively what would have become of it if I have indulged my argumentative vigour.
Or, I am a massive wimp, for not dismissing customs and going with gut-feeling.