3 Signs That Your Next Funeral Director May Be a Woman

June 3, 2019

The Time is Now

For Women in the Death Care Industry.


It seems so odd that in 2019 we are still adding to the list of “firsts” for women. The glass ceiling has been shattered in some industries, but in others, like the death care industry, the panes remain intact. Stereotypes, misconceptions and just plain ignorance have kept women out of ownership and leadership in the funeral industry for quite some time. But, there is overwhelming evidence that the next generation of funeral directors may be led by a powerful group of women that will undoubtedly shape the future of the industry. Here are 3 signs that point to this being a trend to expect at funeral homes across the country.


Sign #1: The Numbers Game

It is no secret that over the last few years the number of women enrolled in schools to become funeral directors has increased. What is staggering is the rate with which the women in the industry are taking over. Less than 40 years ago, only 5% of the funeral directors in the United States were women (NYSFDA). In 2014, around 56% of the students enrolled in funeral director programs were women (ABFSE). Just 4 years later in 2018, statistics put that number at over 65% (Times Free Press). So far, that hasn’t correlated into a jump in women funeral directors. Even though there are so many females enrolled in education for the position, 74% of all funeral directors are still men (Times Free Press). But, with this kind of shift in education demographics, the tide has to shift at some point, and when it does, women will likely rush the industry. As this current generation of directors retires, those filling their shoes will likely be women.


Sign #2: Things Go in Cycles

“What goes around comes back around again” and “There is nothing new under the sun” are timeless expressions of the old adage that things go in cycles. Prior to the Victorian Age, women were the primary caregivers for the deceased. In the 18th and early 19th century, they would collect the deceased, wash the bodies, rub them with herbs to help with odor, and dress the bodies for burial. When chemicals grew in prominence and science determined that embalming bodies in a more sophisticated manner could be possible, it took women out of this role because they just weren’t allowed to attain the education necessary to fill the role. Stereotypes and ignorance then determined that women weren’t able to lift dead bodies and move them, and it became less likely to see women in the industry. But now in 2019, these stereotypes have been debunked, technology has made it possible for most people to be able to move and transport bodies, and the education is open to anyone.


Sign #3: The “New” Funeral Service Lends Itself to a Female Touch

Funerals are becoming bigger events. They are less of a religious service and more a celebration dedicated to the memory of the decedent. Data USA confirmed that in 2016, over 70% of all event planners in the US were women (DataUSA). This number indicates that as we move into a space where unique arrangements rather than rituals of religion become more prominent, it only makes sense that we’ll be seeing women funeral directors excel as part logistics coordinators and part event planners.


So, to the women in our industry, we say congrats! National Mortuary Shipping and Cremation knows just how important diversity is within the walls of a successful company. We look forward to the continuing trend shift that is empowering more and more women to rise through the ranks in the death care industry to roles of prominence. And when you get to the top, we’ll be here to help you with everything from body shipping to graveside services. You’ve fought hard for the position, and we’ll make it easy for you to keep it!

Let Us Help!