i don't know your friend's physical build or commuting style or the reasons for her preference, but fwiw: there's nothing particularly jock about me, but when i shopped for a commuter bike in the $400-$700 range this spring people kept bringing out 'girly' bikes, and not one of them felt right to me. i'm just sayin' . . . my impression (shared by a few other women i've discussed it with) was that manufacturers of women's bikes in that range don't seem to take women seriously as cyclists, and trying to commute on a bike that was built with that mindset might be a bigger problem than doing it on a bike that was supposedly 'made for men'.
i got a jamis coda, also fwiw. i'm 5'4" and not all that strong or bike-minded.