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Why your funeral director will likely be female


Jan Smith of Flanner Buchanan in Indianapolis was in a minority when she attended mortuary school in the 1990s; only 5 percent of her class was female. Today, she is vice president of funeral operations for her company, which has 17 funeral home locations around Indianapolis. About half of her funeral director colleagues at her company are women and the majority of candidates applying for internships or jobs are female. That’s typical of how the gender gap in the industry has narrowed, according to a report by NextAvenue.org. The National Funeral Directors Association reports that 16 percent of its current membership is female, up from 10 percent in 2004. But the real shift will be felt as the next generation of funeral directors moves into prominence in the profession. In the past decade, the number of women enrolled in the nation’s 59 accredited mortuary science programs began to meet and then exceed the number of their male classmates. In 2016, 61 percent of students in college and university programs were female.

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