Hi Wendy -
I haven't been online for a couple of days, or I might have responded without being prompted.
I wouldn't want any rank that I thought was given to me just because I'm a woman. Nor would I be happy if I thought that rank was being withheld because I'm a woman. I don't think that either of those things happen where I train, but I'm cynical enough to believe that they do happen at other dojos.
The dojo is such an important part of my life that it borders on the sacred for me, and part of that is *because* of the treatment I get there - based on the time that I devote, and the skill that I show, and on my attitude, and not on the way I dress or on how well I meet or do not meet stereotyped gender roles. The dojo is a haven away from that bs. I may still have to tell a new guy, 'Don't miss me,' five or ten times before he'll give me an honest attack or atemi, but the folks that have been training with me know that I've been trained to get my face (or knees, or whatever) out of the way just like everyone else.
I recognize that providing this type of haven is not the primary purpose of an aikido dojo - or maybe not even a purpose at all so much as a happy side-effect of honest training. To be honest, I'm not sure if that kind of atmosphere *can* be produced on purpose.
On a different tack, I also teach kids - for some odd reason, nearly all of my students (and all of the ones in the class that I teach solo) right now are boys. The boys don't seem to notice one way or another that I'm female*, wheras in the past some of the girls I've taught developed a form of hero-worship to the point that I almost think someone else would make a better teacher for them.
*Once I caught someone saying, 'girls are wierd,' or something typically boyish along that line. When I loudly cleared my throat, he looked startled and then said, 'you don't count.'