Pride and Prejudice may start off with the anonymous figure of a rich, single man, but the novel is actually concerned with the plight of the poor, single woman. Most of the women we see here (the Bennet girls, Charlotte Lucas) are in a bind. They're too high class to get jobs (jobs aren't really an option for proper young ladies in early 19th-century England), but not high class enough to inherit wealth. That leaves them with options: wedding bells or penny-pinching old maidhood. It may not be as glamorous as the expensive shoes and fabulous apartments of today's chick lit, but it's a much more realistic look at what it meant to be a woman.
The novel offers a much wider range of female characters than it does of male characters.
By writing about a female character who is bold, independent, honest, and forthright, Jane Austen is critiquing female identity in early nineteenth-century England.