sunshine-and-shadow-quilt-backgroundDo Amish women work? Seems a silly question, with their full-time jobs as mothers, homemakers, and all the other roles they take on.

What I mean is, do Amish women ever work away from home in an “outside job”?

The answer is yes. Younger or unmarried Amish women are more likely to have outside jobs.  Generally, those married women with young children are going to be at home. But some Amish mothers do have occupations, part-time or otherwise.

The jobs Amish women take on are usually, though not always, different from those men typically do. Read on to learn about five of those jobs.


Five Jobs Done By Amish Women

1. Running a Store

Amish women are quite active in business. Some help run family businesses, but quite a few have their own shops–variety stores or fabric shops being two common examples.

amish-country-store-virginia

If you’re interested in the subject, Beth Grabill wrote a doctoral dissertation on female Old Order entrepreneurs in Lancaster County. She notes that “the ways in which these women handle their business, family, and community roles sometimes involves extensions of traditional roles and sometimes departures from them.”

2. Quilting and Seamstress Work

Quilting is a popular occupation, be it creating a full quilt, or helping in part of the process in an “assembly-line” style arrangement, for example just quilting the tops.

seamstress-thread

Amish women may do other types of seamstress work. The wife of a friend sews costumes for an outside company in the family basement.

3. Furniture Finishing

Furniture finishing is the process of applying the final protective coating over the stained piece of furniture. This is done using a spray tool to evenly apply a finish onto the surface.

worker-finishing-wood-with-urethane

This is one that’s probably not too common, but I have been told by at least one Amish furniture business owner that he prefers women for this job. In his opinion they have better finesse at applying the coating.

His challenge with hiring females is turnover, of course, as marriage usually means leaving the job behind.

4. Teaching

Female teachers far outnumber male teachers. There are different reasons for that. Young men are more likely to gravitate to higher-paying, manual labor and craftsmanship jobs.

boys-outside-amish-schoolhouse

Teaching is typically an occupation for young women, and so also can have high turnover for the reason mentioned above. Though, some women do make a long-term career in the classroom.

5. Waitressing

If you’ve visited an Amish-style or PA Dutch restaurant in an Amish community, there’s a decent chance you had a young Amish lady as your waitress.

gasthof-amish-village-restaurant-sign

This is another one for younger unmarried females, but maybe not always. One of the waitresses at a breakfast spot I once frequented in Goshen, Indiana, was a mother to young children. There are often exceptions to any “norm.”

What other jobs, common or unusual, have you seen Amish women do?

Image credits: Sunshine & Shadow quilt– puzzler4879/flickr; Nature Way Store- Shawn; Needle– Phillippa Willits/flickr; Furniture Finisher- Vermont Timber Works; Amish school- Adair; Gasthof Amish village– Judy Baxter/flickr