If regular classes are too intimidating then beginner's classes are a great option, but why would you want to purposely recruit students merely because of their gender?
Erm...why do I feel like I'm repeating myself? We're simply looking for another way to increase the number of female students. It may work, it may not. Consider it something of an experiment for my dojo, if you like.
Of course it would be ideal if *every* student is able to "jump right in" and mix it up with everyone - but *some* folks aren't comfortable doing so. Although there is a higher percentage of women practicing Aikido in comparison to other martial arts, Aikido *is* still male-dominated. Some women can get intimidated working out with a bunch of big guys - even in a beginners class. I'm not one of those women; I jumped in most *every* single beginners and mixed class from day one. But then again, I also had previous martial art experience (TKD and Iaido), so I at least possessed some "martial intent" and "awareness". I've also worked with some rather timid female students in the beginners classes who were clearly intimidated by some of the more "elaborate" techniques - even though it was a "basics" class.
I don't know if this is something you can understand as a male. Since most women tend to be "smaller" then their male counterparts, it can be rather daunting for them to practice techniques on someone twice their size. Yes, we *should* be able to practice with *any* person, regardless of size or gender. But sometimes, it *is* helpful to work with someone closer to your size. When I was learning koshinage
, I tried to partner with someone closer to my size (male or female) as much as possible. Working with a big guy simply wasn't helping me with the general "form" of that particular technique. When I got a *little* better (seriously...my koshinage still sucks), I started taking on bigger guys, but it took some time for me to get to that point.
My whole point is that different people have different needs. What works for one person may not work for the next. We're just trying to access those who may not be "ready" to take on a "regular" class yet.