Family to Family: The Charles F. Snyder Funeral Blog
Female funeral directors in an historically male-dominated industry
Posted on August 29, 2014 by Christina Jemison
I just finished reading Sheryl Sandberg’s controversial but acclaimed book “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.” It wasn’t necessarily an eye opener for me – I knew women faced gender-related challenges in the workforce – but it definitely was a motivator. It ignited in me the notion that women can and should have it all.
As a workingwoman, I wear many hats; registered nurse, aspiring blogger, wife, dog owner, sister, daughter, friend, volunteer. Like almost all workingwomen, I sometimes struggle to find my balance. But imagine juggling all your roles and responsibilities as a woman while working in an almost completely male-dominated industry?
Unlike the nursing profession, the funeral profession has considerably more male licensed directors than female directors. I still recall the first female funeral director that my father Chip hired. It was the late 1980s, and it was a game changer for me.
Having grown up above the King Street funeral home, I was always meandering downstairs to visit with the Snyder Funeral Home employees. Once this female funeral director was hired, she became my idol as well as my friend. She leveled the playing field for me in regards to women in the working world. She could stand on her own surrounded by a mostly male staff. She also offered a whole new perspective on funerals, planning, and service to families, adding a woman’s opinion to the industry.
Since that first female hire, my father and brother have consistently employed female funeral directors at the funeral home. There are currently three licensed females on staff; Tabitha (Huff) Lindsay, Jackie Adamson, and Kelly Townsend, (Susan Sensenich retired a few years ago, but remains per diem).
All four of them wear many hats, manage many responsibilities, and make an enormous impact in this male-dominated profession. They work with such compassion, care, and grace helping families every day.
According to the National Funeral Directors Association, 57% of students studying mortuary science today are female. So even though it still appears that men dominate this industry, I think it’s safe to say that the industry is “leaning in”, and beginning to value the female presence. And while I didn’t follow in their footsteps to become a funeral director, I did choose another service profession that I love very much – nursing.
Both professions have a mission to help and serve people in their time of need, and I feel honored to be associated with both types of licensed professionals. So as we all juggle our many hats, I’d like to say special “hats off” to all the female funeral directors out there!