The general attitude towards women in Medieval times, was that they were inferior to men. Generally, women were taught that they should be meek and obedient to their fathers and husbands, though this did not prevent some women from becoming among the most respected Christian saints and scholars, or in some rare cases, from changing history (like Joan of Arc).
In the day-to-day reality of things, Medieval women had a lot of responsibility and were not at all inferior to men in terms of daily effort. Most worked and did not stay at home, contrary to some modern beliefs. Many toiled alongside their families in the fields, and some were employed in workshops or were trades-women.
Women sometimes had the responsibility of running large estates, due to the death of a husband (widows were permitted to hold land, and a woman with a lot of land was just as powerful and influential as a man with the same property). They settled local disputes and arranged estate finances. They even took equal responsibility in defending castles or manors from invaders.
Unmarried women holding lands were powerful and had the same rights as men. However, when a woman married, she forfeited her lands and rights to her husband. Upon his death, she was officially entitled to inherit a third of the land so that she might support herself. Some unmarried women entered convents or nunneries where they lived a life similar to a monk's. This afforded them the chance to obtain an education or lead a devout life. Many nuns cared for the sick and also became important figures in the community, not to mention those who would eventually be recognized as saints.
Occupations held by medieval women included shopkeepers, bakers, spinners, alewives (those that brewed ale), farmers, and silk weavers. There were even some women writers. Being a spinner was the most common occupation. Women spent much of their time spinning wool into coarse thread, then weaving it into cloth and making garments that were needed by all. Some areas were worse than others. In Scotland, particularly among the feudal highlands, highlanders were all considered “gentlemen,” and therefore were supposed to go to war or defend their land, but not tend the land, since this would “befoul” them, meaning that all the extra work would go to children and women.
Young single women often wore their hair loose, but once married almost all Medieval women wore a linen wrap to cover the hair. This was a sign of modesty, and a clear sign to other men that they were already married. Other items worn by Medieval women included hair pins, prayer beads, leather purses, woolen knee stockings, and leather shoes. Dress codes were very strict in certain places, particularly during the time of the Spanish Inquisition. The women of Medieval Europe worked hard, as it was a hard world to live in, and all needed to work to survive a harsh and unforgiving world.