Mr Underwood took nearly 100,000 novels from 1800-2009 and an algorithm that apportions nouns, adjectives and verbs to specific characters. He found that women received about 50% of descriptions in 1800, but barely 30% by 1950 (see chart 2). This mirrored a similar fall in the share of novels by female authors. As writing became more lucrative, it veered away from the world of genteel ladies to that of grubby men. It was only after 1950 that female authorship and characterisation rebounded.
From an article in The Economist.