It is a myth that 16th century women were meek and submissive.Some were strong minded and they had more influence than is sometimes imagined. He made Queen Katherine Governor of the Realm and Captain-General of the home forces in his absence.
Furthermore if a craftsman died his widow often carried on his trade.
In the 16th century some women worked spinning cloth.
Women were also tailors, milliners, dyers, shoemakers and embroiderers. Some women worked in food preparation such as brewers, bakers or confectioners. Furthermore a very common job for women in the 16th century was domestic servant. However most women were housewives and they were kept very busy.
Most men could not run a farm or a business without their wife's help.
However women were allowed to join some of the guilds (organisations of tradespeople and skilled workers).
In 1562 a law, the Statute of Artificers, made it illegal to employ a man or a woman in a trade unless they had served a 7 year apprenticeship.However in the case of women the law was often not enforced.Very often the guilds (who regulated trade) let male members employ their wives or daughters in their workshops.In the 16th century most households in the countryside were largely self-sufficient.A housewife (assisted by her servants if she had any) had to bake her family's bread and brew their beer (it was not safe to drink water).She was also responsible for curing bacon, salting meat and making pickles, jellies and preserves (all of which were essential in an age before fridges and freezers). On top of that she had to cook, wash the families clothes and clean the house. Poor and middle class wives were kept very busy but rich women were not idle either.