The Buddha welcomed and encouraged women followers. He founded an order of nuns and recognized women to be as capable as men of the highest spiritual attainment. So does the relative vigour of the masculine contribution to Buddhist tradition point to a complex of social handicaps operating against women - even to a partriarchal conspiracy? Or is it possible that women actually have less aptitude for the spiritual life than men? This book presents an examination of questions which, in an era of shifting social norms, new ideological orthodoxies and militant political correctness, may be perceived as loaded and unpopular.