You may be interested in reading my Books & Culture review of Lynn Cohick’s outstanding book, Women in the World of the Earliest Christians. Here’s the link: http://www.booksandculture.com/articles/2010/novdec/readingbetweenlines.html. Unfortunately you have to subscribe.
It’s not a polemical book. Cohick does a careful, thorough review of the the ancient literature to find out how women lived. Since women tend to be ubiquitous, one learns a lot about first-century society in general. It’s a great source of background understanding, and incidentally cleans up a few misreadings of the New Testament as well.