The invention of "CRISPR" and similar technology has taken genetic engineering away from the mad scientists and given it to the backyard scientist. No, you can't make South Park's four assed monkey, but you can do some amazing things with bacteria. Making them smell like bananas or giving them a strong, vibrant color (for use as ink) are just a couple of the things you can do. Not to mention learning how to do DNA comparisons, just like CSI.
The intro lectures and workshops are fairly cheap, but if you want to make your own ink be prepared to spend hundreds of dollars. Similarly, the brain work depends a lot on how deep you want to go. You can learn the basic tasks without too much effort, but fully understanding everything will take a lot. But you never need muscle, even for the hard stuff.
You don't need to worry about amateurs making a disease, while it's pretty easy to identify stuff, if you to make anything interesting, you need to buy building blocks from people that check for the nasty things. Making the building blocks is expensive, takes time, and a lot more skill than an amateur can do.
In addition, adding code to bacteria is a lot easier than adding code to more complex life form. You just need to insert the DNA into the cell, while with more advanced life forms, you need to get it into the cell's nucleus.
Most genetic engineering hobby associations take people of all ages - kids welcome. Men and women are again both present in large numbers.
I took classes with Genspace: