Woman is a noun (used with a/an/the) and female is an adjective (which describes a noun). So we say:
There is a similar rule with male (adjective) and man (noun):
(male/female are adjectives describing the noun “life expectancy”)
It is possible to use “female” and “male” as nouns, but this is usually only done when talking about animals – or when writing scientific papers where humans are part of the experiment:
Masculine and feminine are also adjectives which describe things that are like what people perceive to be typical of a man / typical of a woman.
(women typically enjoy/wear pink; men typically do not)
(men typically play/enjoy American football; women typically do not)