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Women in the 16th and 17th centuries in England experienced difficulties with equal job treatment mostly because they were more likely to be accused of being witches, according to a historian who published her study in the journal Gender & History.
Cambridge University historian Philippa Carter posits that the types of employment available to women at that time came with a higher risk of facing witchcraft allegations when things went wrong.
For example, as Ms. Carter explained, many of those jobs — in health care, childcare, livestock care — often left women in danger of being accused of “magical sabotage” when death, disease or spoilage occurred.
“This article has considered witchcraft accusation as a potential fallout of certain kinds of work-related incidents, likeliest to occur in certain high-risk lines of work,” Ms. Carter wrote. “Relatively rare, but potentially fatal, it was only one of many gender-differentiated occupational hazards.”
The study says that the deaths of sheep and cattle at the time led to a typical accusation of witchcraft against women, as they were more likely to be livestock workers than men during that era.