Read this in the 90s, it's part of a series I think. Women didn't really have much rights, men ruled the planet but mostly in the book the women were treated well but unequal. Yet somehow women acted as translators for the aliens?
This is "Native Tongue" by Suzette Haden Elgin.
Set in the twenty-second century, the novel tells of a world where women are once again property, denied civil rights and banned from public life. Earth's wealth depends on interplanetary commerce with alien races, and linguists--a small, clannish group of families--have become the ruling elite by controlling all interplanetary communication. Their women are used to breed perfect translators for all the galaxies' languages.