This is scarcely a new accusation. I think I've heard similar whining in other sports that are being rejuvenated or kept alive by the influx of women who like to train and compete with their dogs. My first response is, too bad, so sad, get over it. *ahem*
It doesn't take a "man's strength" to operate an ecollar, which is what many trainers/handlers turn to with a truly hard dog. So, this is more about people preferring
a dog who is more flexible and easier to work with.... I'd have to say that that demand is scarcely female driven--I think it is points-driven--and there are as many or more point-seeking male trainers out there as female.
Additionally, a truly hard dog is not best managed by the brutal handler who uses all of his physical strength against a dog. If a dog is truly hard and dealing with a hard/harsh handler, then human and dog just end up in a constant conflict--a battle of wills and strength--and there will be more fighting than learning and seldom will any sort of true teamwork be achieved. Far better for any human--male or female--to use their brains and act with confidence rather than force.
There are a few dogs out there who refuse to respect a female handler--they absolutely won't work for them, no matter how motivational or no matter the force. One of these dogs I witnessed was Dak v Kirchweital
-- and it had nothing to do with handler skill or handler strength. Interestingly, although this dog was plenty hard and strong, he wasn't one of the first dogs I think of when I think of the hard, strong dogs I have known.
As far as old-fashioned "harsh" training methods back in the days when dogs were "really hard" .... does anyone really think it's a good idea to return to the days of using a high-speed winch to teach the go out?