Astonishingly, we hear that the tired subject of a "female diaconate" has been raised again, but this time - most disappointingly - by a Supreme Pontiff (who shall remain nameless) who claims that the history of the deaconesses in the Early Church is "obscure".
It assuredly is NOT obscure, but was the focus of a definitive study published in 1982 by the distinguished French liturgiologist, Monsignor Aime-Georges Martimort. Ignatius Press published a translation of this wonderful work in 1986 Deaconesses : An Historical Study, which is still in print. I urge you to obtain this book and read it (it assumes a working knowledge of Greek and Latin). It also appears to be available to be read online.
Deaconesses DID exist in the Early Church but they WERE NOT female deacons. Their ministry was narrowly defined, completely distinct from the ministry of the deacon and DID NOT include any liturgical role at the altar, where traditionally no woman set foot.