Carrying with one in that chamber is common and preferred. Having to rack a weapon before use can lose tactical advantage.
I don't know what weapon she had, so can't comment on specifics. That said, not every weapon is a good carry weapon. Further more, weapons should be picked to match specific needs and skill set.
Many carry weapons do not have active safeties. Meaning, no switch to switch. This is to ensure the weapon can be used in high stress situations without worry of forgetting or fumbling to turn off. Many (most/all) carry weapons do have multiple passive safeties which prevent the weapon from discharging when dropped and or require a finger to physically be on the trigger. Meaning it can only be fired intentionally.
In general, women carrying in their purse is heavily frowned upon. Honestly, in my opinion, its stupid. Its a sign they perhaps should not be carrying in the first place. A weapon in the purse encourages the women to lose control of her weapon in even the best of circumstances. Its reckless and dangerous. As is exactly what happened here. Her decision to carry in her purse killed her. It was a bad decision. Secondly, carrying in a purse encourages the weapon to be stolen, thereby leaving the women entirely unarmed, and worse, her assailant is now armed. At best she has fed the gun black market. Women should never carry in their purse, save only in very uncommon situations.
That said, many state laws basically force women to decide between their ability to protect themselves and going out. As some laws frequently force these poor decisions under the guise its a bad idea but better than nothing. That's why in part open carry is constitutionally protected and illegal in all states that prevent it. People should never be forced to surrender their right to self protection unless it steps on someone else's constitutional rights.
While this is most definitely a sad situation, the real problem is that many thousands of guns are used annually to protect people and save lives yet this accident is held high by trashy media and unintelligent leftists. If the left actually cared, they would be campaigning for women to not carry in their purse and to once again encourage gun education in our schools.