As far back as ancient Greece, women have had a significant role in caring for the dead. In fact, until the 19th century, the job of preparing the body for burial was largely the job of the females in society.
As Victorian mores began to take hold, women’s roles diminished somewhat since it was not considered proper for women to handle the bodies of the men. And so, according to historians, a shift had begun. While women may not have been expressly prohibited from entering the trade, they were relegated to specific “appropriate” tasks. Eventually, the profession of funeral director became largely a male-dominated one.
That was then. Today, 57% of mortuary science students in the US are women and the number is growing. In a recent Fortune magazine article titled “Why your funeral will probably be run by a woman,” funeral director Kim Perry talked about the trend.
There’s nothing surprising about that, in Perry’s view. “Women are often more nurturing than men, and they understand the tremendous importance of details like having exactly the right flower arrangements,” she observes. “Most of the people making arrangements for loved ones are women, and they feel really comfortable talking to another woman.” The $16-billion-a-year funeral business, which employs about 441,000 people in the U.S., “is really all about relationships,” she adds. “Women tend to be great at it.” Read the full story
That’s not to say that the field of funeral directing is now a woman’s world. According to a recent story in the Chicago Sun-Times, women still comprise less than 17% of the membership in the National Funeral Directors Association. The number is, however, on the rise which gives further credence to the claim that the gender gap is closing.
Women comprise 16.5 percent of all members in the National Funeral Directors Association as of 2014, compared with 9.7 percent a decade earlier, according to the Brookfield, Wisconsin-based group, which represents more than 10,000 funeral homes worldwide and 48 percent of funeral homes in the United States. Read the full story
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