Whoa. There are plenty of reasons besides the commercial to avoid perpetuating female stereotypes. But if you must get down to brass tacks, consider the following:Doug Pardee wrote:I dunno... for those types of characters — tough women — it's difficult to put a feminine edge on them. I'm not sure it's necessary.
From a commercial standpoint, it appears that this isn't a big concern. In Carl Sagan's movie Contact, Ellie could just as easily have been a man with almost no change in story or dialogue except for the brief interlude with the preacher. Janet Evanovich does very well selling her Stephanie Plum series, and one thing that put me off from the series is that, at least in the first book, Stephanie's feminine aspects are caricature. Stieg Larsson stripped all of the femininity from Lisbeth Salander, and people love her.
1) Contact is decades old, as are many of the most commercially big sci fi books. Expectations may be different now.
2) There may be a reason that science fiction carries such a tiny market share that has nothing to do with whether women like technology. Actually women love technology
To create a believable woman character, I would consider deeper traits than an affinity for shoes. For example, women are generally thought to be more astute at observing human behavior and interpersonal relationships. Women are thought to have a greater concern for human life (though I would be careful with how that trait would be used since a woman in the military would still have the necessary pragmatism when it comes to death). A woman in a male-dominated field would likely have a thirst to prove herself, which might lead to unnecessary risk-taking. There is also the physical: women are smaller, generally have less upper body strength--although there are still plenty of women who are so athletic that those things don't matter.
Polymath's point about causality is a very good one, and definitely helps you create more real characters. I do still think there are subtle ways where women may react to the same thing as a man a little differently. There are some innate traits that are more prevalent in woman. You wouldn't want to use all of them; not every woman has every feminine characteristic.