A lifelong interest in science led to Russ's winning the Westinghouse Science Talent Search in 1953, her senior year of high school. Russ also has an MFA in playwriting from the Yale Drama School, and she is a professor of English at the University of Washington. Thus, she blends her many interests to create some of the most intriguing science fiction being written in a field that is still dominated by male authors. Russ finds in the science fiction genre the freedom to explore strong, active, successful female characters in ways that other, more conventional forms of fiction may not allow. Her essay, "What Can a Heroine Do? Or Why Women Can't Write" (1972) explains her theory that fiction too often must take as its basis myths that give men power while they subordinate women. Her dedication to the craft of writing, combined with a strong commitment to feminism, identifies her with such writers as Octavia Butler, Ursula Le Guin, and a growing number of women science fiction and fantasy writers.