Information about professions can be found posted in the JewishGen
Digest Archives as this topic has been discussed a number of times
in the past.
Wherever a family had to be supported, a woman played her part in
that activity and played it well. It was not unusual at all for
women to have professions in Lithuania, particularly as merchants
whilst their husbands performed their religious duties or studies.
Women can be found to hold concessions for the sale of certain
products such as butter, candles, salt, particularly rabbinical
wives as that assisted in providing additional income for their
In addition, many were found in the medical professions such as
dentists, pharmacists, nurses and doctors. This can be seen in the
records of the major hospitals in Lithuania and in the medical
directories which exist. However, a number of women graduated with
degrees in the professions, but did not practice once they married
and became mothers. They were also herbalists as one of my relatives
was who provided treatments for the local population in the absence
of a pharmacist or doctor in the community before she left for America.
Education was another area where women became certified and taught in
the many emerging schools and institutions throughout Lithuania. They
also served in banks and other financial institutions.
Women also worked at home-based professions such as piece-goods,
tailoring, knitting, baking, and crafts, as well as in factories which
were in the large as well as small cities. They were proficient in the
running of the many inns, restaurants, hotels, bars and other such
areas which were found throughout Lithuania and certainly were cooks,
waitresses, barmaids, and maids in this industry.
In regard to the profession of "hairdresser", which was mentioned, this
probably refers to a horse hairdresser not a human hairdresser.
I could name many more professions, but suffice it to say, women were
an integral part of the workforce, especially into the 20th Century,
although probably not an equally or well-paid part of it.