I recently finished reading Buddhism after Patriarchy by Rita M. Gross. It is a really fantastic book. She begins with the acknowledgement that current Buddhist institutions and practices are highly androcentric and tend to inhibit the spiritual potential of female members of the Buddhist community. She then sets out to determine if gender inequality is inherent in Buddhist doctrine and thought, or if the sexist practices are extraneous to the true heart of Buddhism. The first section details the place of women during three major developmental phases of Buddhism: early Indian Buddhism, early Mahayana Buddhism, and early Vajrayana Buddhism. The second section looks at major teachings of Buddhism in light of their implications for gender equality or hierarchy--mainly egolessness, emptiness, and buddha nature. Over the course of these two sections she concludes that the essence of Buddhism not only fails to condone sexism but in fact supports the full equality of women and men and that therefore practices that inhibit women's spiritual development are in fact antithetical to the dharma. She devotes the third section of the book to detailing what a Buddhism purged of outdated androcentric attitudes would look like. She includes two methodological apendices: one on the basics of feminist theory and one on the differences in studying religion from an acedemic and a practitioner's veiwpoint (she is both a scholar of religion and a practicing Vajrayana Buddhist). I recommend it to everyone!
You can find more book recommendations at Buddhist Connect. http://www.BuddhistConnect.com Buddhist Connect is getting really big now. You can date, make friends, join clubs, look for a job, post an event and sell your items. It is a really great resource for all Buddhists!