Re: Starting an all-women's class
I think the most benefit for women who are a bit timid about trying out Aikido is to have a separate womens beginner class. When they build up their confidence and technique then go and join the main class. Essentially getting into the main class and training with other women and men should be their goal otherwise they might get too comfortable only training with women and that might distort the reality of martial arts (taking care of ones self).
So I support the womens only class for beginners but after that join the others.
p.s. I think alot has to do with the sensei too. If the sensei is good and makes sure nobody is being a bit of a brute then there shouldn't really be a need for a womens only class anyway. The Sensei's I have had were great at making sure everyone respected and looked after each other. Once you get pretty good then you can mutually push each a other a bit more.