In my high school and college years, I spent a great deal of time arguing the similarities between men and women, going so far as to attribute the vast majority of gender differences to nurture. The nature versus nurture discussion continues and what we know for sure is that we don't really know. The most sweeping conclusion that can be drawn is "humans are not hard-wired."
I've learned some things, experienced a bit more of the world, and taken on more roles since my teens and early twenties. I have a deeper appreciation of the rich and varied interplay between gender and milieu, as well as the role of, well, roles. And regardless of all the science, the known, the unknown, the questioned, and the hypothesized, I am quite certain that, as a group, women who write do not write in the same way as men who write. Perhaps it has less to do with nature than with life experiences and those pesky roles than tend, more often than not, to define by way of limiting.
As I think about the courses I will be teaching next semester and the changes I will be making in both content and approach, I am thinking about why I read what I read. And, during September, I've decided to read only women authors, not for any particular subject matter expertise, but to experience the difference in voice. Today, it's Molly Ivins. Waiting in the wings are Annie Dillard, Maya Angelou, Merlin Stone, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, and a host of others. Though I'll miss my favorite men who write, I'm looking forward to some time with the girls.