When I was growing up, I remember walking to the local library and rifling through the book sections for anything that had girls in it. I liked mysteries, so I went through all the Nancy Drew books until I ran out. Sometimes I’d find books at the local toy store, like Kim Aldrich (I still remember that diving cover from the first book! Cool!). But what I wasn’t really finding were books where the girls got to do adventures on their own. With the detective novels, the girls often went off, got into trouble, and then had to be rescued by someone else. They were smart enough to do investigating, but not smart enough to rescue themselves (scratches head). Any really exciting books almost never had girls in it at all. Eventually, I started reading science fiction, and there weren’t any books that I can remember.
Off course, that’s not true now. It’s much easier finding books with women/girls as characters, and even doing heroic things. Today in the Washington Post, eleven female midshipman have been accepted into the Navy’s submarine training program. Books and television did it before the military.