As a female sci-fi author, I was interested to come across this article by Alisa Krasnostein recently, which discusses the lack of recognition of womens’ contribution to the sci-fi genre. I recommend you give it a read.
As someone who has come through some very male dominated areas (engineering, industrial design), I found her arguments perhaps a teeny bit one eyed. Don’t get me wrong: I am a feminist. And I don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of all the other authors who have been writing in this genre.
But I do think we need to recognise that women have not been able to contribute to all fields of life for as long as men, simply because cultural constraints (unacceptability, lack of education etc) and physical constraints (being continuously pregnant, for example) have impeded our ability to compete in these fields. I think Caitlin Moran puts it rather well in her terrific book ‘How to be a Woman’.
“For even the most ardent feminist historian, male or female – citing Amazons and tribal matriarchies and Cleopatra – can’t conceal that women have basically done fuck all for the last 100,000 years. Come on – let’s admit it. Let’s stop exhaustingly pretending that there is a parallel history of women being victorious and creative, on an equal basis with men, that’s just been comprehensively covered up by The Man. There isn’t.
Nearly everything so far has been the creation of men – and a liberal, right-on denial of it makes everything more awkward and difficult in the long run. Pretending that women have had a pop at all this before but ultimately didn’t do as well as the men, that the experiment of female liberation has already happened but floundered gives strength to the belief that women simply aren’t as good as men, full stop. Women are over, without having even begun. When the truth is that we haven’t begun at all. Of course we haven’t. We’ll know it when we have.”
In my experience, I have been looked down as a woman doing an engineering degree, as the university had a quota for women at that time. The fact that I got in by my own hard graft, and with marks better than many of the men, was subsumed by the assumption that I was a female charity case.
So let’s not put women of sci-fi on an equal footing just because they are women who wrote sci fi in a male dominated genre. They should be there through merit : because they are damn good writers, and perhaps then we’ll see some real equality and recognition.