An argument often used to restrict women from church leadership is that Jesus spent most of his time on earth investing in a group of 12 men.  But a close reading of the gospels shows that his band of followers also included women disciples.
I’ll leave the reader to their own survey but offer these observations from my personal study. To keep this short I’ll stick mostly to references from Luke and John, but support can also be found in Mark and Matthew.
Jesus traveled with a group that included both men and women disciples.
In Luke 6 Jesus appoints twelve from among “a great company of disciples” to be apostles. Luke 7 records Jesus traveling with his disciples and this great crowd. Then shortly after beginning his public ministry, we read that as Jesus traveled “the Twelve were with him, along with certain women” (Luke 8:1-3). Luke lists Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and “many others” as being in this band of disciples who traveled with Jesus. 
One of the best evidences that women were among the disciples comes from Matthew 12:46-50:
“While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother’.”
The women disciples were not just supporting cast members. When the Twelve are called we read that “they left everything and followed Jesus” (Luke 5:11). This concept of “following” is often used to describe discipleship in the gospels, and we find it also applied to the women in Luke 23:49.
Women followed Jesus from the time of his early ministry all the way to the cross.
In their accounts of Jesus’ last days, all four gospel writers mention “the women who had followed Jesus from Galilee” (Matthew 27:55, Mark 15:40, Luke 23:49, John 19:25). Taken together we find that eight women are named , with the most familiar being Mary Magdalene.
In Luke 24 some of these women are addressed by the two men at the tomb: “Remember what he told you while he was still in Galilee?” And we are told, “then they remembered his words”. This confirms the longevity of their journey with Jesus and reminds us that they just didn’t show up in Jerusalem at the last minute. They’ve been present all along.
In addition, after his resurrection Jesus chose to reveal himself first to his women disciples. These women are probably the women mentioned as praying alongside the men in Acts 1 and present at Pentecost (Acts 2).
There is a reason most people cannot recall the names of all twelve of the apostles. Several are only mentioned by name only once or twice, if at all. But the stories of several women disciples are recorded in detail. The stories of some women disciples are more central in the gospel narratives than many of the Twelve.
Mary and Martha of Bethany
There are at least five references to Jesus being in Bethany, and most scholars assume that he stayed in the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus when he was there. Luke tells us that “Mary sat at the Lord’s feet” (Luke 10); an expression used to denote the disciple of a Jewish rabbi. John records Martha’s breathtaking confession of faith: “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world” (John 11:27), comparable to that of Peter in Matthew 16.
We have the account of Mary’s anointing of Jesus with expensive perfume in John 12; which he interpreted as preparation for his burial. So I don’t think it is a coincidence that Jesus is in Bethany when he sends for a colt to ride into Jerusalem or that he spends his last few nights on earth in Bethany (Matthew 21:17, Mark 11:11-12). Or that it is to Bethany that he returns before his Ascension (Luke 24:50-51). Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus (John 11:5). They were among his closest friends and disciples.
The Marys and Mrs. Zebedee
Mary Magdalene also features prominently in the gospels (mentioned about 12 times), as does Mary, the mother of Jesus. Both of these women traveled with Jesus from the beginning of his ministry to the cross  and historians note their importance in the establishment of the early church. Other women disciples named Mary are also identified, including Mary the mother of James and Joses and Mary of Clopas.
In Matthew 20:20 we read about the mother of the sons of Zebedee who asks Jesus to show favor to her sons. Just before this account Jesus and the disciples are noted to be traveling from Galilee to Jerusalem, suggesting that Mrs. Zebedee was a part of this group. This is confirmed in Matthew 27:55-56 which places her at the foot of the cross. While we fault her for selfishness, the record shows that she understood who Jesus really was – and such understanding was rare.
You can count on one hand the number of times the gospels depict Jesus alone with the twelve apostles.
The gospels writers only record a handful of times where Jesus takes the Twelve aside for teaching. There is the sending out of the Twelve and the Transfiguration (Luke 9), the prediction of his death and resurrection (Luke 18:31), the Last Supper (Luke 22), and the Ascension (Luke 24). 
Most often Jesus’ teaching is addressed to audiences that include both men and women. We read of the disciples being among the crowds (Luke 12), of large crowds traveling with Jesus (Luke 14:25), and of public teaching to audiences that include tax collectors, sinners, Pharisees, and legal experts (Luke 15-21). Jesus and the Twelve were not traveling by themselves around Galilee. Times in private were likely the exception more than the rule.
Time to Set the Record Straight
To say that Jesus spent most of his time investing in twelve men perpetuates the misconception that he traveled in the company of only male disciples and that women were excluded from his inner circle.
Such an interpretation sends a subtle message to men that they are more valued than women. And it sends a not-so-subtle message to women that they are not as worthy of being invested in as men. This does not do justice to the stories of discipleship of women in the Bible or to the inclusive message of the gospel.
 It should be noted that the twelve apostles were also all Jewish and chosen as representatives of the tribes of Israel, but that’s peripheral to this conversation. Read more: The Twelve Disciples Were All Male
 Matthew names Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of the Sons of Zebedee (27:55-56). Mark also names Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joses and adds Salome (15:40-44). Luke identifies Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary, the mother of James (24:10). John expands the list to include the mother of Jesus, his mother’s sister, and Mary of Clopas. Some scholars believe there may be some overlap in the lists, but even taking that into account, 6-8 women are named as having traveled with Jesus.
 Scripture References to Mary Magdalene: Matthew 27:56, 61; 28:1; Mark 15:40, 47; 16:1-19;Luke 8:2; 24:10; John 19:25; 20:1-18.
For further reading on this topic:
- Did Jesus Spend Most of His Time with Just 12 Men? - March 28, 2018
- The Women Who Stood Near the Cross - April 14, 2017
- Resources for Women Preachers - March 14, 2017