Anyone who thinks societal influences steer girls and boys into sciences equally is living in another universe!
In engineering, having a mostly male engineering workforce means we wind up with airbags that kill women and children, voice recognition systems that recognize only male voices, and artificial heart valves that fit only male hearts. I'm sure there are comparable point of view examples in physics.
The argument about physics formerly being a meritocracy is laughable. Until your and my generation, higher education institutions had very small quotas on the number of women they would accept, especially in the sciences. Scores of better qualified women were turned away and preference was given to less qualified men. Men have always been the ultimate recipients of preferential treatment.
The U.S. is worried about Asian countries taking leadership in technology and science. The U.S. has always benefitted from creative and innovative scientific advances. Are we really doing ourselves any good if we're arguing about whether more than half of our population (women) should be encouraged to contribute to those advances?