those who studies the founding history of Buddhism would have come to
know that Ananda is kind of a champion for women, a rare example of
its kind at a time centuries before the modern Woman's Rights
movement, a result of The Enlightenment (or Modernism) movement.
It was Rahula who persuaded the Buddha into allowing women to enter
the Sangha, on the very basis that women have equal potential as men
to obtain Nibbana.
Your doubts is about the answer Buddha gave to Ananda. At times, when
we read the suttas, we have to understand that the Buddha is saying
the "conventional truth", i.e. what is acceptable at his time, _not_
the "ultimate truth", i.e. women can do equally well if given equal
opportunities as men.
The reason for this is a multi-faceted issue, which requires
professional research and deserves a book in its own right.
You may have noted that Ananda was not able to take the issue further
with the Buddha, as he did with the bhikkhuni issue. The Buddha, as
the head of the Sangha, was able to agree on admitting women to the
order. However, the Buddha has no say about allowing women to be a
professional, judge or foreign diplomat.
If a woman is given the same opportunity in education and work, I am
sure she has equal chances of excelling, and henceforth dismisses the
misconceptions a male-dominated society has about its womenfolk.
--- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, rahula_80 wrote:
ânanda, a woman is given to anger. ânanda, woman is envious. ânanda, a
woman is greedy. ânanda, woman is poor in wisdom. This is the reason,
ânanda, this is the cause, why women-folk do not preside in a court of
justice, nor engage in an occupation, nor go to a foreign country."