I know this is some kind of a classic topic, but I think it's quite interesting, indeed.
I often noticed that many referred to women in Tolkien's books as being underrepresented, or at least portrayed as minor characters; well, I'm a woman too, and so this topic has quite an importance for me. Everyone knows - at least from his letters - that professor Tolkien was not very positive to feminine emancipation ( he thought necessary for a woman to vow obedience to his husband, for example, and he thought a woman couldn't create anything without having a male as her ultimate source ), but, however, I find that his books demonstrated a deep respect for women instead; they were of course under represented and oftentimes their own goals were referred as being their men's ( I'm thinking especially of Luthien, who freed Beren from Sauron's dungeon and succeeded in entering in Angband and even put Melkor at bay, three tasks that would probably have proven impossibile without her ), but, as characters, they were always very strong, more often than not a true challenge for their husbands ( i.e., Nerdanel, Melian, Galadriel, Morwen... ), and, even more important to me, very feminine-like: they were not " man-maidens ", as claimed Galadriel's name, but women all the way: remember when Tolkien describes the poor, misfortunate, weak Aerin in the Children of Hurin and the comment on her burning the halls of Hurin? Never underestimate a sweet, delicate woman: her greatest goal could be in accepting her own destiny, a thing I found most brave, braver indeed than all of Turin's misfortunate struggles against his own destiny. And what about Andreth? Unyielding, proud, and still managing her love to be her greatest power, something I call " the strength of weakness "; remember her phrase " for one year, on day, to the Flame I would have given all "? I think that it's this ability to exploit life to its utmost that makes all of them so great.
and then, there are women like Eowyn, fighters, strong, unyielding and brave; or like Galadriel, as much wise as strong and self-willed, or great artists and sub-creators themselves, like Nerdanel. They have indeed small parts to play, as is normal with a classic epic tale, but great characters nonetheless.
what do you think about this topic yourself?