Mountain bikes around the popular thousand pound threshold are predominantly hardtails and women specific mountain bikes are no exception.
A full suspension mountain bike under a grand is likely to be a heavy ride. We’d suggest sticking to a lightweight hardtail, most will have 80 or 100mm suspension forks, if you’re petite or light then opt for the most adjustable fork available. Some, like the Specialized Jett Comp listed below, even come ready tuned for lighter riders.
The frames will be moderately lightweight, constructed from aluminium. You’d need to spend quite a bit more money for a super light race version. Gears will tend to be the perfectly acceptable and reliable Shimano Deore, and possibly the lighter XT range, or the SRAM equivalent. Brakes should be hydraulic discs in this price category, usually from Avid or Shimano.
The geometry and sizing are designed to work better for female physique and the components, such as saddles, bars, shorter stems, make for a more controlled and comfortable ride too. You will need to decide between a traditional 26 inch wheeled bikes and a 29er, as several manufacturers now offer women specific 29er bikes.
You can ride these bikes hard in most conditions and terrain, and there’s certainly no reason why you shouldn’t begin your foray into racing on a steed in this price bracket.