Let's just face the fact that men and women are inherently different. Women inter-relate differently between each-other than men more often than not...often it is not a matter of capability as it is how two people interact due to personality types and sometimes pre-dispositions based on gender.
Chall: you mention the "Women Who Sail" group on facebook, I'm glad your wife has found the Aussie group to be extremely beneficial, I however have not found the US version of that to be the case as much(Mrs. Siren posting here). I did enjoy the group to a point, as I am trying to get into sailing more, but the male bashing that takes place far too often was hard to overlook and I felt I had to leave the group after a few months. After a while the bashing was just too frequent to just keep scrolling and overlook, despite the benefits.
Mrs. Siren... and others... I wonder what people do is condescension rather than sexism. I personally don't have much patience for dumb... from wherever it comes. My hunch is that sailing, not unlike many other "things" favors people who can see the big picture... are "mechanically" inclined... can conceptualize 3D and even 4D. My experience is that females are often "educated" to excel at a whole different skill set. (not all but we need to speak in generalities don't we??)
Years ago when I was just under 40 and new to sailing having recently purchased the boat I still own... I met a too young for me woman at a restaurant. She was also polish and a single mother. We started to date despite the age difference. Aside from being good at all the feminine stuff she loved to fix and do things... which struck me as odd. But she was good at it. When she came aboard she took to sailing like a duck to water... That was amazing! I am not referring to lying about on the deck sun bathing... but steering and trimming and so on. WOWSER! Eva was brilliant! I had recently separated from my wife who was lost on the boat and would do nothing because of her fear. My experience is that most females are closer to my ex wife and the Eva. Many don't even want to learn a thing. But the ones that do... are a pleasure to teach... the ones that don't are passengers and need attention and get in the way too often. I find myself (perhaps condescendingly) telling them to sit there and stay out of the way only because the cockpit is small and I need to move around it to tack, gybe, trim and so on... but people who don't help... or don't know how to help are often in the way. That's reality.
I don't know much about yacht clubs... racing... sailing schools. I do think.. anyone interested in these things can READ and research and prepare themselves rather than "show up bright eyed and bushy tailed wanting to be taught." Again... my own experience.... I bought a 36' boat with only a few week ends on the water but AFTER I took a Colgate class with the ex wife. But I also immersed myself with reading and research for a year before I took the course. I read 20 or more books and subscribed to all the sailing magazines which I read cover to cover. For me the class was basically to practice what I had already learned from books.
If someone is serious about learning to sail... in my opinion... before they show up at a class... they should do some serious reading/research.... which is more accessible today that it was in the mid 80s before the www and YouTube. And I think for anyone who DOES do their research... they will only experience sexism from a true dyed in the wool sexist pig. They exist (unfortunately) allover the place.
This guy, Joe Cooper... is a great example of a sailing teacher and savant... and not the least bit sexist. https://www.facebook.com/joe.cooper.142035
Before you sign for a class... interview the instructors!