I’ve started reading Dorothy Sayers recently, and it made me reflect on something.
In the genre of romance, the vast majority of the writers, and especially the big-name ones, are women — to the point where (so I’ve heard) a man who decides to write romance will almost invariably do so under a female pseudonym. In fantasy and science fiction, the big names in genre history skew male instead, and we still have periodic slapfights about insufficient recognition for female writers.
In mystery, it seems to me that there’s something more like balance.
You still get splits along subgenre lines; noir is more associated with men, cozies with women. But in the genre as a whole, if you start lining up the big names both past and present, you’ve got Raymond Chandler and Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammett and Dorothy Sayers, Elmore Leonard and Sue Grafton, and many, many more. There are a lot of acknowledged and admired female writers, without mystery/crime/detective fiction being viewed as inherently a “female” genre.
Or maybe not. I’ve taken occasional dips in the mystery pool, but it isn’t a genre I read extensively. So tell me if I’m wrong. But it really does seem like mystery, of all the genre categories out there, does the best job of balancing this factor. Does anybody else think the same?