In my area, dogs are very well regarded. My GSD gets much more attention when walking than our Beagle does. I see some people that cower when they see the GSD and cross the street or get out of the way, but more often than not I get a very positive response.
Experienced dog handlers tend to immediately gravitate towards the GSD as well. Ours is a bi-color black and tan (no saddle, just black) and so she has a striking appearance that can either intimidate you or draw your attention.
At the puppy stage she got lots of attention, up until around 9 months or so. Then we got the walking across the street and leaving the isles crap. Now at just over 18 months, we are pretty close to being back to the attention she got as a puppy. She doesn't approach people or dogs, but accepts them approaching her(after sniffing the people). Some people she sniffs and politely turns away, which is my sign that she doesn't really care one way or another. She loves kids and doesn't turn away from them, most kids don't have a fear of her and are very happy to pet a "police dog".
Bitch versus Dog (the correct terminology for female and male) will come down to personal preference. I've had bitches that were very tough, bitches that were lovers, dogs that were more aloof and dogs that were cuddlers.
Going forward it will be bitches only for me. I'm getting too old to lose sleep when the bitches do into season and the dog howl all night.
As for how people see GSDs around here - with me it's hard to tell because I have a long coated sable GSD. Very few people even KNOW he's a GSD.
Seems people either really love the breed or are terrified of GSDs. I constantly hear stories from people about the GSDs they had growing up and what great dogs they were. Then of course, there are the non story tellers who go on the other side of the street!
I love having a female. Most of my dogs have been male. (not just GSDs) Maybe I just like having another girl around....I had 2 brothers, 2 sons and most of my animals have been male......