I'm female. I enjoy playing pinball, but the only machines that I ever see are in my house or my mom's house as there are no local players or publically available machines within a 2 hour drive in any direction.
Last year my mom and I went to Game Galaxy in Nashville on a day they were having a little local tournament. It actually did get points towards what I assume are the PAPA numbers above, and there were only 6 guys there, so we participated. We didn't know how to play the games, but we'd watch the guys ahead of us and sometimes they'd give us pointers. We came in I believe 5th and 8th, but when they put the points on the official PAPA website it showed me as #1 ranked in TN and my mom as #2 ranked in TN. She came in dead last in the tournament, but she proudly told everyone about it and how she is now the #2 rated female played in the state. Her coworkers like to give her a hard time about having 3 pinball machines in her bedroom, but suddenly the girls were interested and thought it sounded cool, and a few have even gone to her house to play. (It helps that she has TAF since that's the one machine everyone seems to know from when we did have an arcade here 15 years ago.)
Also last year we went to the Atlanta Pin Swap. There was a tournament there, and we had all intentions of signing up. My mom, my dad, and me. We got there early to put our names in and practice, then quickly realized that the tournament was a roped-off area of the garage/hanger the event was being held in, and about 40 guys were crammed into a space smaller than 20'x30'. They were yelling, they were cheering, and they were drinking. And they had every right to be, because it was a fun event and they were having fun, but there was no way in heck that the three of us were about to throw ourselves into the middle of that, especially since we didn't know how to play the tournament machines and wouldn't have a chance. So we played the games in the free play area for awhile until we got hungry, went to eat lunch, and drove the 2+ hours back home.
This year the Atlanta Pin Swap grew up into Southern Fried Expo, and again my mom, my husband, and I made the 2+ hour trip down. We got there early for the swap fest, which was pretty non-existant unless people came later and we missed them, and in case we wanted to play in the tournament. Once again, it's a moshpit of guys in a little roped off area, and we have no interest in particpating. It was a nicer area and they did a great job of organizing it, but the average female who has never played the tournament machines isn't going to stand around for hours and pay a fee just to play the game and ultimately be beaten out by the guys who regularly have access to a multitude of pins from their local friends and public places.
So we had a blast playing in a small tournament, but got scared off from playing in the other larger tournaments because of skillset and for the sheer fact of being a female squished into a literal large group of men in a tight area. I've never had a problem with guys being rude or disrespectful in person at a pinball event, but then again I don't purposely place myself in the middle of a large group of them. Most men don't understand the inherant flight/flight aspect of being a female sometimes. I'm not petite by any means at 5'10", of Viking decent, and probably weigh as much as some of you. I'm not a timid person, but surround me with 20-40 guys in a small area, and my natural "get out of here" instincts kick in.
I absolutely think women can play along the guys and know that there's no difference as far as skill as related to gender. If I was actally any good at playing (like Phoebe up there) then I'd probably take you on head to head and kick your ass. But I'm not good enough to warrant jumping in the middle of a sausage fest and paying money just to have myself disqualified. If there was a separate women's event, even just for fun and no points, I'd be all over it and play every event I went to. The smaller number of entries means I might have a chance (even though I'd mostly be playing for fun) and honestly I'd just feel more comfortable with a smaller group of women around than tons of guys with testosterone pumping from competing.