Like other Orthodox churches and the Roman Catholic church, the Armenian Apostolic church does not allow women to become priests. Women/girls are also technically not allowed up on the altar, BUT one of the churches I go to has a little girl who occasionally is up there helping, and has girls do the readings sometimes, etc. I don't see any adolescent girls or grown women up there, but considering there are very few youths/young adults of either gender who participate in church, even just by going, so it may not be an age thing.
I surprise myself, but the fact that women are not allowed to be priests does not bother me (although I sometimes think it should...). I think this is due to two things: 1) the nature of the duties of the priesthood and 2) the nature of church life.
First, the nature of the priesthood. As far as I can tell, priests in the Armenian church perform many of the same functions of their counterparts in the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches, except for one. Sermons. There are still sermons in the Armenian church, but they are significantly shorter and less important than they are in, say, my parents' Southern Baptist church. That is, the Armenian church is NOT about preaching. Some priests are naturally good at giving sermons, and some are not, but you don't have to be especially good at them to succeed as a priest. This means that if someone is called to spread the word of God, or to teach others, etc., there are other venues to do that, probably BETTER venues for doing that, than becoming a priest. The choir serves an incredibly important function in the service- I would argue that they are just as important to the service as the altar boys, so I don't exactly feel that I am being excluded from participating actively in the service the way I might in a Roman Catholic or Protestant church where the hymns are just nice little additions to the service.
There is also complete acknowledgement of the role that women play in generally sustaining the church. Well, this is the case at the two churches that I attend regularly, anyway. Maybe it isn't in other churches. Everyone knows that they might not be up on the altar, but really, there would be no churches without them. The women are the ones who run the church office, teach Sunday School and Armenian School, and coordinate fundraisers, among other things. At a recent Armenian festival at another local church that I don't attend, my husband and I noticed the women running around cooking and serving food (the main way that the festival raised money was by selling dinner!), while the men stood around in black, wearing black vests with SECURITY on the back in big white letters, smoking cigars or drinking. Not kidding. My husband wondered if the festival really needed that much security. I said that probably it was the only way the women could get their husbands and grown sons to help out. "Oh, you can work security!" In both the churches I attend, the Parish Councils have women, so they contribute to running the church as well. The Armenian Church even has a special title for the Der Hayr's wife- Yeretzgin. Jews also have a similar title for a Rabbi's wife- Rebbetzin. Protestant churches don't have this- there is no real recognition of the support and sacrifices that the wife of a minister (because although I know some female Protestant ministers, I don't really see their husbands doing so much of the day-to-day support, coordination, mentoring level that the wives of male ministers often do) makes. I like that the Armenian Church says, "hey, the wife of a priest is a real position of responsibility too!"
While I do have issues with the very old-world view of women in general (particularly when it comes to how sons are treasured versus daughters), I think that church life, and maybe only in church life, are the contributions of women, even though they are separate and not always equal (often they are greater), usually recognized and appreciated for what they are. Plus, since churches are usually on the small side, talent doesn't get lost in the herd, whether it is male or female. Maybe this is why I think that the women are appreciated? They can't afford to piss them off.
This is not to say that I don't think that girls shouldn't be on the altar- I do! I am glad that there are a few churches who break/bend this rule to a certain extent. Or that I don't care that the men are happy to sit around and smoke and drink and wear SECURITY vests rather than pitching in with the real grunt work. I am indifferent about women becoming priests, I think because there are so many opportunities to express a call for anything, and you can still go to St. Nersess seminary and take classes and get a degree if you are a woman (I know they have a layperson's track and a priest track- I am not sure if women can do the priest track, even though they obviously won't become priests).
One positive thing about the Armenian Church is that often they are not big churches, which means that any one individual person has a greater opportunity to make a concrete difference in the environment of a church. Each person can be more welcoming, can reach out to new people/strangers. You can work to organize activities to get people involved. You may not be able to change the entire culture and structure of the church, but you can make the church your own.
It is late. I might go back and edit this post later, for fear that it is incoherent, but I wanted to get it up there. I've been promising it for a while.