Because our readers exist in today’s (sexist) society, they grow up expecting to like and appreciate different things due to gender roles.1 Look at movie audiences (and how they’re marketed): Men like action and things that go boom. Women like emotions and relationships.
These aren’t universals – I know women who like horror movies far more than I do, and men who like emotional films. But they’re still useful generalizations to think about when marketing your stories – and you can find ways to subvert them there as well.
The way this translates to text is pretty simple: Women tend to like internal dialogue and musing about relationships. Men tend to like action sequences, with little introspection. I’ve noticed that from reader comments about my own stories, especially from female readers. When the emotions are only conveyed through expressions and body movements, I get a lot more women telling me the story feels “flat” – even if it’s got a strong subplot about relationships.
So when you’re doing your second or third draft of the story, try to mix it up a bit. If you tend to have lots of introspection, cut a bit of it out. If you tend to have little to no introspection, add some. Your characters and story will be the stronger for it – and you’ll broaden your audience appeal while subverting gender stereotypes.
1 Again, I do not think this is a good thing. I try to work against it whenever I can. But it is how things are right now, whether we like it or not. I hope this advice will be unnecessary very, very soon.