Personally, I KNOW women in aikido (but also sports in general) hold great value. When I have had the opportunity to train with a woman, I find it disarming. Growing up "old school" in west Texas, women were to be taken care of and protected, not competed against.
Facing off with a nidan in TKD, a woman weighting less than half my own weight
... I can't help but enjoy the fact that her skills in martial arts are what is throwing me around like a ragdoll! And it is a lesson big guys like me need to learn to keep us honest (humble
But just yesturday, I was commenting on another thread how Patricia Hendricks Sensei is a 6th dan and with every new thing I learn about her... I can't help but believe she should be at LEAST 7th Dan. Granted, Aikikai doesn't teach weapons specifically (I think?) but she was the FIRST PERSON, male or female, to be awarded recognition from Saito Shihan for her skills and ability in weapons work. That's gotta be saying something...
Okay, I'm rambling so I'll go. Keep going ladies and give 'em hell! Keep us all honest and on our toes.