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Ancient Egypt

Women's Roles

History >> Ancient Egypt

In general, men and women had different roles in the society of Ancient Egypt. However, unlike in many ancient civilizations, women were considered men's equals under the law. Just like men, women could run businesses, borrow money, and own property.

Queen Nefertari on Tomb Wall
Photo by the Yorck Project

Because women did not become scribes or work in the government, they did not learn how to read or write. They were taught homemaking skills and how to manage a household by their mother.


Girls in Ancient Egypt got married very young. Usually around the age of twelve or thirteen. The Egyptians did not have big marriage ceremonies and most marriages were arranged by the two families.

Typical Roles

Women typically worked around the home. They prepared food, cooked meals, cleaned the house, made clothing, and took care of the children. Poor women would help their husbands work the fields. Wealthier women would manage the servants or perhaps run a business of their own.

Preparing Food

Preparing food for the family was a full time job for most peasant women. They would tend the garden, ground grain into flour, knead flour into dough, and cook bread.

Wealthy Women

Wealthy women would have had servants to do most of the housework and cooking. They would spend their time managing the servants and planning large banquets. Sometimes wealthy or high-ranking women became priestesses working in a temple for one of the Egyptian goddesses.

Priestesses and Goddesses

Only women from important and high-ranking families would have been allowed to become priestesses. Working in a temple was considered an honor. There were many powerful women goddesses in the Egyptian religion including Isis (the mother goddess), Hathor (goddess of love and motherhood), and Nut (goddess of the sky).

Other Jobs

Not all women worked in the family home or conformed to the typical roles of women. In Ancient Egyptian society this was okay. Women owned businesses selling products such as cosmetics, perfume, or clothing. Some women worked as entertainers in the courts as musicians or dancers.

Rulers and Leaders

Although women had less opportunity than men, they had the same legal rights. In some cases, this allowed a woman to rise all the way in power to become pharaoh. Two of the most famous women pharaohs were Hatshepsut and Cleopatra VII.

Interesting Facts about Women in Ancient Egypt

More information on the civilization of Ancient Egypt:

Timeline of Ancient Egypt
Old Kingdom
Middle Kingdom
New Kingdom
Late Period
Greek and Roman Rule

Monuments and Geography
Geography and the Nile River
Cities of Ancient Egypt
Valley of the Kings
Egyptian Pyramids
Great Pyramid at Giza
The Great Sphinx
King Tut's Tomb
Famous Temples
Egyptian Food, Jobs, Daily Life
Ancient Egyptian Art
Entertainment and Games
Egyptian Gods and Goddesses
Temples and Priests
Egyptian Mummies
Book of the Dead
Ancient Egyptian Government
Women's Roles
Hieroglyphics Examples
Amenhotep III
Cleopatra VII
Ramses II
Thutmose III

Inventions and Technology
Boats and Transportation
Egyptian Army and Soldiers
Glossary and Terms

Works Cited

History >> Ancient Egypt

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