To be accused of a feminine style has haunted the psyches of women who write, for the accusation means critical dismissal, not chivalrous regard. George Eliot, the Bronte Sisters and George Sand did not care to reveal their sex on the title page; a masculine pseudonym gave protective coloration to their words, and that was the only chivalry they required. Earlier in the nineteenth century Jane Austen had coped with the identity problem by publishing her first novel as the work of “A Lady,” alerting the reader, suggests critic Rachel Brownstein, that here is a “distinctly feminine and well-bred voice of a genteel maiden” who desires to please. As recently as a decade ago a university study attempted to gauge reader response when the sex of an author was attached to a piece of writing. When the writing bore a woman’s name, readers felt it was less competent, less significant work.
Brownmiller, Susan. Femininity. Linden Press, New York. 1984. (pg. 125)
Less significant still sadly rings a bell!