My review of Lisa Yaszek and Patrick Sharp's Sisters of Tomorrow is live at Strange Horizons.
Why does this erasure matter? For two reasons, as Russ notes. First, when we are denied models, it’s much harder to believe that we can succeed. If it were possible for women to write science fiction, we ask as young writers, wouldn’t there be lots of science fiction written by women? Any writer needs to believe her task is possible if she is to make it through the many years of struggle. Second, if almost all women writers are erased—so that we’re left, for instance, with only a few names (Ursula Le Guin, Octavia Butler, Connie Willis), writers who seem to exist in isolation—then it’s much easier to believe that these very few women succeeded not because women can write science fiction, but because they were some sort of freak. (She wrote it, but she’s not really a woman.)