Women are unquestionably the main theme in Vermeer's genre paintings - an art genre which, in turn, makes up the bulk of the artist's oeuvre. The work examines Vermeer's portrayal of the woman and the female image he designed, and puts it into the context of the Dutch life of the 17th century. The influences and effects on Vermeers paintings and motifs are explained by taking his biography and the cultural, political and social conditions of that time into consideration. Iconographical aspects and the influential contemporary emblem literature play an important role in the detailed analysis of selected works. The investigation clarifies the connection between social conventions and conceptions with genre painting in general, and the works of Vermeer in particular to reveal the image of women therein as an ideological construct.