Are men and women considered equal in Buddhism?

Lama Ole’s answer:

In Tibetan Buddhism, yes. But there are three different levels in Buddhism:

1) In Theravada Buddhism, the male principle is considered to be higher than the female. It is said that on the last step to enlightenment one must take rebirth as a man. Women are seen more as dangerous distractions for the monks.

2) In Mahayana Buddhism, it is said that the male mind is stronger. But even here men and women are more or less on the same level.

3) And in Diamond Way Buddhism, the male and female principles are equally important. Male or female alone is too little. The point is that we learn from each other, that we complement each other. On the inner level, the female is wisdom and the male is activity. And on the secret level, the female is space and the male bliss. In Diamond Way Buddhism, one can’t say “better” or “worse.” It is a matter of realizing both and bringing both together.

That’s why on the highest level of enlightenment, the Maha-Annuttara Yoga Tantra, there are only male and female buddhas in union.