1) Last week I participated in an SF Signal Mind Meld discussion on "What are the most overdone/useful/damaging tropes and stereotypes in SF/F?" Don't go read it for my answer, but for everyone else's: many of my fellow authors had excellent, insightful takes on the subject.
2) If you're involved in the world of online SF/F fandom, doubtless you've heard about the recent brouhaha sparked off by sexist remarks in a column in the SFWA bulletin. (If you're not aware, Jim Hines has an extensive list of links to posts discussing the issue.) I haven't said much on this because I feel many other people have already said what I might want to say in far more articulate and eloquent style. (See Mary Robinette Kowal and Kameron Hurley's posts, for example.) But one article I read particularly affected me: Ann Aguirre speaking out about the horrible treatment she's received as a female SF author at SF/F cons.
I read Ann's post and just boggled. I have been working as an engineer in the male-dominated space industry for fifteen years now and NEVER ONCE been treated with scorn or dismissal - so what the hell is wrong with SF? I've seen people say, "Oh, the guys who dismiss female authors are just old. Also, they're geeks; they've got no social skills to start with, you can't expect them to act professionally." I'm sorry, but that is no excuse. Aerospace is chock full of Old White Guy (tm) engineers and scientists who were raised in the 50s and have all the social skills of Dr. Sheldon Cooper on Big Bang Theory...and yet they manage to behave in a professional manner at conferences and company functions. If I can go to a day job meeting in which I am the lone woman in a sea of fifty men twenty years my elder, and still have my contributions respected, valued, and acted upon, then why is SF - supposedly the literature of imagination and intelligence - such a toxic environment?
I don't know. All I can say is that hearing tales like Ann's deeply upsets me, on behalf of Ann and every other female SF author who's been made to feel unwelcome and unwanted. (I should note here that my own convention experiences have been uniformly good to date, as have all my interactions with male authors and fans. But I write fantasy, not SF, and haven't attended very many cons - only WorldCon, World Fantasy, and my local convention MileHiCon.)
In my more vindictive moments, it makes me want to write a hard SF novel...just so if some panelist at a con tries to dismiss me because of my gender, I can be all, "Hey, buddy, I went to Caltech at age 16. I studied under some of the top scientists in the world, graduated the youngest in my class (male or female!), and since then I've sent projects to other planets and created algorithms to do things in remote sensing nobody even thought were possible - so don't even think about telling me I can't write science." But that would be foolish, even counterproductive. SF isn't about credentials, it's about imagination. Look at C.J. Cherryh's novel Cyteen, which remains the best treatment of the ramifications of human cloning that I've ever read, despite Cherryh being neither a molecular biologist nor a geneticist (so far as I am aware!). The real issue here is that authors of fiction should be judged on their books alone, not their gender or race or their perceived expertise.
I have no answers, no magic wand that can bring change. So instead, I fall back on my old standby: I try to talk loud and often about my favorite SF books by women, especially when people ask for recommendations. The more visibility women have in the field, and the more readers get a chance to discover their books, the more likely it is that change will come (or so I hope). Discussions like the ongoing one over the SFWA bulletin also help - because problems can't be solved without the community acknowledging they exist.