Well, i'm sure you'll get alot of good advice, this site is great and the members are helpful and knowleadgeable. Of course the .22 is the all time starter caliber for new shooters, and from there it gets interesting. I'd go with 9mm in a fullsize to no lesser than a compact model. My reasoning is the smaller caliber pistols lets say .32, 380, generally come in small framed handguns and are gonna snap and bark as much as a fullsize 9mm pistol in my experience and I really can't advise starting a new shooter off with a small pistol. You will have many good suggestions but I can only suggest what I have experience with and think appropriate. I believe the larger 380's may be an option such as Bersa or Beretta 84. Although as suggested, a full size 9mm will be not much more to handle, and ammo is cheaper. I've heard good reviews from smaller women with S&W M&P compact which is very ergonomical for smaller hands and shoots relatively soft. However, a good DA/SA like a Beretta PX4 Storm fullsize and compact have numerous safety feautures to consider for the new shooter and are a breeze to breakdown and clean, which would be my first suggestion, and are the only two I own and have experience with. You'll get plenty of other great suggestions I'm sure. Good shooting!