There actually is a big difference here.
If you play a Halfling, there are trade-offs. In return for lower strength, you get resistance to magic and poison, as well as being able to get 19 Constitution (according to an online copy of the Pools of Darkness manual; might actually be Dexterity in game (havn't checked)). Also, the pencil and paper game gives them bonuses to thief skills, I believe. (Is that implemented in any of the Gold Box games?)
Female characters, on the other hand, are penalized and get nothing in return. It seems that Gary Gigax only wanted people to play male characters, so he penalized those who dared to play female characters (or at least that's my guess). As a result, from a game balance perspective, male and female characters are not balanced each all. (There are good reasons many DMs rule zeroed that rule away and that the rule did not survive to 2nd edition, while the halfling strength limit did.)
My understanding, from reading reviews of POR published when it came out, is that women in AD&D 1e get +1 charisma in exchange for -1 str. So they aren't penalized with nothing in return. For whatever reason, this wasn't included in POR and possibly the rest of the Gold Box series.
However, just to confirm for myself, I fired up my copy of POR off the Forgotten Realms Archives Silver Edition. I created a new character named test, and made them a Human Female Thief. I then added them to my party, chose the modify command, and set all their stats, including STR to 18. I notice that CHA didn't receive a +1 bonus either. I decided to poke around further, and creating a male dwarf fighter and a female dwarf fighter showed that for dwarves, women have a max STR 1 lower than male dwarves, and no CHA bonus. I haven't played around with the other races, but I think it's safe to say elements of AD&D 1st edition were implemented a tad shoddily in POR. I've attached screenshots.
Also, leaping straight from "Men and women are different in this game" to "Therefore the guy who made it must hate women" offends my sense of reason.
In the first edition Player's Handbook:
"You will find no pretentious dictums herein, no baseless limits arbitrarily placed on female strength or male charisma..."
Page 9, from the Strength table:
"18-01/50: Maximum strength possible for a female human or male
As you can see, the Player's Handbook promised no limit on female strength but imposed one just a few pages later. Meanwhile, the Charisma table has no mention of a male charisma limit.
Also, the stats aren't equal: A bonus to Charisma does not compensate for a penalty to Strength. Giving human females +1 to Constitution might have balanced out the gender for that race (particularly since both differences only matter for fighter-types), but would not have worked for other races. +1 Dexterity doesn't help because 19 Dexterity has no AC benefit over 18.
The limit on female strength makes no sense from a game balance perspective, since there is nothing to compensate. It also makes no sense from a fun perspective, as it means that players who want to play strong women can't. Also, the rule alienates female players and was commonly house-ruled away.