I want to work in television, but I don't want to move to L.A. Do I really have to? Yes. The simple answer is that if you want to actually work, you have to be in L.A., or possibly New York. You need to meet people and make contacts. So unless you already know a lot of people in influential positions, it will be nearly impossible to get work from out of town. It's hard enough when you live here.
I have a great idea for a series... Stop right there. Every single television writer, and most of their friends, relatives and hairstylists have several great ideas for a series. But in television, even the greatest idea isn't enough. It's all about the execution, week after week. When a network buys a show, what they're buying is the writer's ability to make it consistently good for a hundred plus episodes. That's a lot more difficult than coming up with one really kick-ass idea.
What show should I spec? Jane Espenson has a great blog which covers the spec script issue in depth - check out JaneEspenson.com. The best advice I can offer is to spec a show you genuinely like and that shows off what you do best. Yes, it should be reasonably popular, and not likely to get cancelled before you even get the damn script done, but don't feel limited to "House" or "The Office." Producers are probably sick of reading those anyway. I've found people surprisingly willing to read scripts of shows they've never seen.
How do I get an agent? This is one of those Catch-22 situations - it's hard to get an agent interested until you get a job, and it's hard to get a job without an agent. The best way is to get a referral from another writer who is willing to show your stuff to his or her agent. If you must send out cold query letters, do your research first. Find out who represents the writers you want to emulate - the WGA will be happy to tell you. Then write those agents, and say how much you admire what they've done for Writer X, and how your unique talents make you a worthy successor. Follow up with a phone call and talk to that agent's assistant. If you're nice, they might be willing to tell you which assistants were just promoted to agent and are looking to build a client base, i.e. open to new writers.
Is it tougher for women? Personally, I don't feel that being female has worked against me. If anything, a woman who likes to write sci-fi and action is just unusual enough to be interesting. That being said, every single show I've worked on has had more male than female writers, even the Lifetime show with two female leads. I think gender bias may get worse as you go up the ladder. Female showrunners are still scarce, especially in sci-fi and action shows.
I just finished a great spec script. What do I do now? Write another one. Already have ten great specs? Then try a spec pilot, or a screenplay, or a novel. Always be working on something new. What to do with the material you already have? Put it in front of as many eyes as possible. Friends, co-workers, assistants - anybody willing to read. Then go out and meet some more people, and ask them to read your work. Great scripts will eventually get passed up the ladder to agents, execs and showrunners. Just keep trying. And keep writing.