A lot of people associate cane with Saidi style, but it's not always the case. Canes can be used with Saidi style, as well as with Egyptian beledi, and Lebanese style, all of which can be done sans cane as well. Shems wrote a great breakdown of where canes are used in Middle Eastern dance, which explains this a little further.
The cane comes from men's martial art called tahTeeb, which has been around in some form for centuries. Today combat is a sport, and points are given for NEARLY hitting your opponent. One looses if they actually connect, I suppose it shows lack of control and those canes can do a lot of damage. The match will be refereed and if they players seem to be getting too heated or taking it too personally then the match will be called and new players will take over. In this clip a little after about 2:40 you can see two of the guys who were matched get up and laugh before joining in the spontaneous dancing that has broken out. You will also see men using both crooked and straight canes, both of which female dancers can use too. From there it evolved into raqs al assaya, cane dance, majorly developed by Mahmoud Reda as we'll talk about below: his raqs al assaya. The dancer will show off their skill with the cane, doing tricks as they dance with it, as Tito shows here and Karim Nagi does here.
Traditionally the women wouldn't dance with cane, and although it is very popular to do so it is not required. Here's Aziza of Montreal dancing without one. You often see movements referencing the dancing horses. The region is known for breeding and training horses for this dancing and they're raised from a young age to get used to the sound of the mizmar which, along with the rabaaba, is one of the most common and characteristic melodic instruments of Saiidi music (the Saiidi rhythm alone doesn't mean a song is from that region or done in that style, you'll hear versions of that rhythm in oriental music, pop music, and folk). Horses are very prized animals there, they aren't like donkey or camels that are for labor, and the feeling is that the horses enjoy dancing. Sometimes Saiidi Tableux will even include VERY overt references to these horses.
Costuming often, though not always, uses the Assuit fabric (named for the town) which has metal woven into it in geometric designs. There's a whole book about this, but I'll just say you can wear a regular costume when doing a Saiidi piece in the midst of a set, a beledi dress works fine too, or sometimes dancers will wear more modern outfits with design elements inspired by assuit.
Female professional dancers all over the world do use the cane now, just because it's fun. So long as you understand that it's a gender-bending thing and play with that you can get away with it, especially as professional dancers, we're already breaking taboos ^_~. For example, this Russian troupe has a lot of fun with a pop song and raks assaya, they mix the cane tricks with the more feminine dance moves. Women can use straight or bent canes, usually a smaller size just because it's easier to get a female hand around, but the really thin ones are more common in Lebanese style.
It is common in Egypt for the dancer to change costume and do a folkloric section to their show, as Lucy does here and Randa did above. It's also a popular choice for wedding entertainment. We'll talk about how this fits into a Zeffa in another post.
Some dancers do folklore in a very feminine way. Here is Orit, who is from Israel and does great Egyptian style. She is performing an orientalized Saiidi as part of the audience interaction in her show, it's great for this since it's lively and usually a crowed favorite. The style should stay earthy in spite of that energy, that not only gives it some of its quality but helps the dancer keep her power.
Some dancers are a bit more masculine/gruff in their presentation, like Camelia. It's all about what works with your personality. Camelia is always full of energy and her dance personality is very ballsy.
Lastly, I'll add that there are a number of classic Saiidi songs, you will hear Luxor Beledna as much as your niece's favorite Disney tune. Ala Naar and Bos al Halawa / Tfarrak al Halawa are also popular, but not as over played.