You may have heard of the female pirate Mary Read, who sometimes dressed as a male, and died in prison after being captured.
Mary's mother supposedly put her in boy's clothing at a very young age, letting Mary pretend to be her deceased half-brother, Mark. This was important to the mother because Mark's grandmother was willing to give money for Mark's support.
Charlotte de Berry disguised herself as a male so she could sail with the man she loved. When someone had her love flogged to death, Charlotte took matters into her own hands once she landed on shore. She shot the man. Charlotte separated another man's head from his body later, gaining the respect of pirates, and sailed with them.
Madame Ching was supposedly one of the best pirates--ever. She disciplined her crew as needed--or as she thought they needed, but it seems to have worked for her. She was later pardoned by her government. The attached link leads to a website which tells of her rule of beheading as a method of control.
http://zowienews.com/2011/12/13/madame-ching-worlds-greatest-female-pirate/ and also the book Piratepedia
I'd heard that sailors thought women could be bad luck on a ship, and at least two of these women were definitely bad luck when upset.