A couple weekends ago I was at a gun show and was asked to help a woman look at pistols. My experience with one gun dealer made me so upset I ended up going home that night and posted a rant on one of my local FB gun groups. American Women Who Bear Arms saw it and asked if they could publish it. I hope many gun dealers read it. Women are the fastest growing group of shooters and dealers should take note. I'm very fortunate to have a few gun dealers I know personally and trust.
You can read the article (and my rant) here: http://www.awwba.com/badgundealer/
If you're new to firearms and want to make a purchase, the best advice I can give is to shoot as many different types of pistols you can get your hands on before you buy. No one but you can know what fits you the best. Some women love big full sized pistols, some like little pocket pistols. I know many women who carry a .40 cal and handle it just fine, other women are more comfortable with a smaller round. That's ok! Figure out what you like and dislike about each firearm you shoot and then go to a dealer. Bring a knowledgeable friend with you. If the dealer makes you feel uncomfortable or treats you disrespectfully, take your business elsewhere. The more we do this the faster dealers will learn (or you'll at least learn who the good ones are).
My advice to husbands asking what to buy their wife? Nothing. Don't buy your wife a carry pistol. Why? I'll tell you what I tell them. "Buying your wife her carry pistol is like buying her a bra. It won't fit her, it will be the wrong style and she'll never wear it".
If you want your wife to carry, here's what you do: Make a day out of getting her her pistol. Take her somewhere she can shoot many pistols (or take a class with her!) and listen to what she likes and dislikes about each one. After, go out and have lunch. Then take her shopping for her pistol. You still look like the hero (your spending a whole day with her and taking her shopping, trust me, she'll be more receptive) and she gets to chose the gun of her choice which means she will want to carry it. I haven't had this fail yet.
Oh, and guys, make sure the dealer is talking to your girl, not you. Be her advocate and let him know this is about what she wants, not you or him. Women want to control their choices not have them made for them. If you educate her first, you can trust she will make the right choice for her every day carry.
If you're a woman local to my area I would be happy to work with you and help you figure out the right pistol for you. I understand what an overwhelming task it can be but with some education and experience women quickly figure out what they want in a firearm. Once you have that figured out, then there's the whole process of figuring out what holster to buy!! But one step at a time... And I'm here for that too. :)