A few authors, such as J.K. (Joanne) Rowling, George Elliot (Mary Ann Evans) and Miles Franklin (Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin) used male or gender neutral pen names to hide the fact that they were women. They did this to ensure that their work would be taken seriously, or in Rowling's case because publishers felt that young boys wouldn't want to read books written by a woman.
Is an author's gender still an issue in this day an age? Are many of the books you read written by women, and does the gender of the author matter to you personally?
The gender of an author doesn't really matter all that much to me. Although a huge number of authors that I read are women: Tracy Harding; Robin Hobb; Jennifer Fallon; Diana Gabaldon and Isobelle Carmody are my top picks! Tracy Harding was the first fantasy writer I read and as an added bonus she is Australian!
I have to admit, most of the books I read are still written by men. To continue the theme here, it's not by design - it's just the way it works out.
It probably doesn't help that a large number of the books I read are role-playing games or supplements for games. Despite having reached gender parity among the playing community, the writing and production of the things is still pretty dude-heavy.
I think the majority of the books I read these days are written by women. That's not really by design, it just happens that way. Maybe it's partly because I prefer reading books that are about women and perhaps more of those are written by women.
I don't know how young boys feel about reading books by women anymore, but I certainly don't think it is as much of a problem as it used to be. Since J.K. Rowling, I think boys probably aren't as bothered about reading books by women.
I don't generally pay a huge amount of attention to whether the book I read is by a man or a woman. In some case I've read books that I thought were written by one gender and turned out to be the other. As well as J.K. Rowling, other female authors I've read are Tove Janssen, Dodie Smith, and a number of the classic writers.
I tend to read books that interest me- the gender of the author is irrelevent.
I also understand why some authors may decide to take on a pen name to sell their books, but I don't really think that this is a trend that is as neccessary these days- in my opinion, a good story is a good story, regardless of who wrote it!