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If Anna Matsumoto had listened to her teachers, she would have kept her inquisitive mind to herself — asking questions, they told her, interrupted class. And when, at age 15, she had to choose a course of study in her Japanese high school, she would have avoided science, a track that her male teachers said was difficult for girls.

Instead, Matsumoto plans to become an engineer. Japan could use a lot more young women like her.

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