This topic was brought up in yesterday’s class. Let me give you the link to an essay I wrote on this important topic about a year ago:
This essay is concerned with the status of women primarily in Early Buddhism and not directly with the history of women in Buddhism, nor with modern issues.
As for history, most of Asia, like most of the West, has a legacy of patriarchy that historically has often undermined the opportunities of women for practice and the recognition of accomplished women as teachers, in spite of what I hope to have shown were the Buddha’s pure intentions. For example, until very recently the sangha of fully ordained nuns (bhikkhunis) that the Buddha created has been missing in both the Theravada and the Tibetan traditions.
As for modern issues, this is changing even in Asia largely through Western influence. I think this is not so much because the West has itself totally changed its patriarchal ways, as that those Westerners who come to Buddhism tend demographically to be among the kind of educated and socially and politically progressive elements that have been most supportive of gender equality.
Here is a link that will take you to more information on the modern bhikkhuni movement: