It really would have depended on the actress' performance. Data isn't so well-liked because he was made to resemble a male; it was because of Brent Spiner's performance. Making Data "female" wouldn't automatically make the character more popular.
Wesley Crusher could have remained Leslie Crusher, but that still wouldn't have guaranteed that the character would be better liked. For all we know, Leslie could have ended up even worse
than Wesley did.