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There were many jobs open to lower class women -- domestic servant was the most common, but also seamstress, weaver, cook at an inn, prostitute (which was an economically significant industry according to Lord Acton`s report), etc.
The rights of women in Jane Austen's England were limited in several ways. Women could not be admited to universities, they could not vote, and they could not hold elected office. The Church of England being the official state religion, women could not be priests or bishops. A woman could be Queen of England, but only if there were no legitimate male heirs. Many positions of power, especially those requiring university degrees, were not open to women. Only men could pursue military or legal careers, for example. Inheritance of titles and estates normally went to the eldest son. Married women could not hold property independently of their husbands until passage of the Married Woman's Property Act.
FOr women there were often only four different pathways to follow in their lives:
they could join the nunnery
they could become a governess
they could become a spinster
or they could marry . . .
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