As I'm thinking of buying a pistol for my wife, it will be a Taurus 9mm. I shot one and was very impressed. All this for $410. Put some nice inexpensive grips on and it's a beautiful gun. Let me know if you want to know where you can get/look at one. Of course it depends on where you're at.
Here's a link for the Taurus
FWIW, with all due respect for the guy that posted below, I think a .357 is too much for a female new shooter. If you're going to carry it as .357, you need to practice with it as a .357. A lot of police carry 9mm with defensive rounds at a reasonable cost.