Re: Differences between female & male practitioners
In my experience there's a difference between dojos that have a stable and fairly large portion of female practitioners, say 25-30%. There gender quickly stops mattering so much. Some newbies behave strangely towards women but after a while in a dojo which lots of female dojo mates and some female teachers (some of which very good, definately not appointed for "equality reasons") they too forget about thinking so much about gender.
But in a dojo where the women are few and even fewer stay, this stage is not reached. As a result, you are always "female aikidoka" first and foremost. Not "an aikidoka".