If Ian and Betty Ballantine, who started Ballantine Books in the 1950s, and who published Mildred Clingerman’s A Cupful of Space believed that women didn’t read science fiction, they never would have marketed the book the way that they did.
How did they market it? With a Richard M. Powers cover that screamed 1960s science fiction, and with this as the back cover copy:
Recipe: Recommended Ingredients:
•A few well-chosen characters—human or otherwise
•A sprinkle of suspense
•A dash of danger
•A pinch of peculiarity
•One tablespoon of terror
Blend the above with the bygone and beyond, sifting in the supernatural. Mix at the high speed of magic, then season to the taste of science fiction lovers.
Now cook over a low flame of fantasy and allow to cool.
Yeilds: An unnmeasurable serving of pleasure in A Cupful of Space.
Remember, in 1961, the kitchen was considered the province of the woman. This book was marketed to female sf readers (as well as men). You target an audience when you market, and clearly the Ballantines believed that women would buy this book.