I often forward your questions to my female peers, martial acquaintences and fellow students. And shall obviously continue to do so...
Martial arts without kata is not kara-te. Done for years before I was born, and far into the future; I am a staunch & adament believer. "Sparring" in the sense it is done today (ie with all the marshmellow protection) has problems of many degrees.
Perhaps the question should not be exclusive to kata but perhaps examine the history of the sparring, as it exists today? As to the matter of gender... perhaps it is my feminine side, but sparring too often goes the wrong direction, dead wrong emphasis far too often. Sparring draws folks "bloodlust" to the surface and proves nothing serious or meaningful 99% of the time.
Merely my opinion, I could srely be mistaken,