Best beginner bike for a woman?

San Francisco Ninja 250

".....My friend (who's 22 years old, 5' 1", 100 lbs) recently got a 2007 Ninja 250 and after having it for 2 months she told me she wishes she got a bigger bike.  Basically, I want a bike that I will be happy with for at least a year and will be able to comfortably ride with a passenger without having the performance of the bike being thrown off (as I've heard can happen with a 250). I'm also looking for performance and speed. I'm not trying to do any street racing by any means, but I do want to have a bit of fun with my new toy when it's appropriate....."

I found this question posted on Yahoo Answers regarding the best beginner bike for a woman.  Does it matter if you're a female vs. male beginner? Should the recommendations be any different? Personally, I Loathe the term "woman's bike". It implies that you need something special and you can't possibly ride any of the other bikes out on the market, which is simply not true. But that's a different blog post....

Each rider is different. Based on this person's question, I suspect that her motives for riding are a little bit misplaced. If she is worried about 'keeping up' with friends on group rides and 'getting bored' with a Ninja 250, I have to question her friend's experience with that bike. You should NEVER try to keep up with your friends, or any group ride for that matter. That can get really dangerous, very quickly. My guess is that the friend who's bored has less than stellar cornering skills. I guess it could be that she's a very quick learner and she's mastered her entry speed and cornering abilities in a short period of time. However, that's pretty atypical from what I've seen.  

I don't know, is that jumping to conclusions? I always wonder if people who say they're 'bored' haven't really explored the capabilities of the Ninja 250, or the bike they've become disillusioned with. When I upgraded, I wasn't bored. I just felt ready for something a little bigger for freeway riding and trips.  I don't know how anyone can, considering how f'ng awesome that bike is in corners! 

What advice would you give to a woman asking this question?