More female funeral directors needed 'to combat sexism in industry'

Funeral directors hope to inspire more women to pursue a 'rewarding' career in the industry.

A group of female funeral directors say more women are needed in the sector to combat everyday sexism.

More women from all walks of life are choosing to pursue a career in the industry to pursue an unusual yet “rewarding” career path, according to Edinburgh funeral directors William Purves.

But many have reported facing challenges around managing home care responsibilities and being underestimated at work.

Kim Ranshaw has been a funeral director for nine years.

She told STV News: “It’s not something I always wanted to do. I worked as a bereavement councillor and a job came up as a trainee funeral director. I needed a new challenge.

“You need to be willing to get stuck in.

“We arrange funerals, bring the deceased in, drive the hearse limo, dress the deceased. You need to be a bit strong.”

Ahead of International Women’s Day, Kim hopes more women joining the funeral industry can help combat stereotypes.

She added: “It’s more the older generation who have that traditional view that a man is a funeral director.

Funeral director Kim Ranshaw has worked in the industry for nine years

“You’ll turn up on a doorstep and they look at you and are a bit surprised that you’re there. Or you will arrange the funeral and they will ask if you’ll be there on the day and don’t be expecting you to conduct the funeral.

“But you’ve got to take it as it is and not let it bother you.

Sharon Laing, from Inverurie, worked as a carer for years in the town before becoming a funeral director.

She said the skills needed for that job lend themselves well to this one.

Sharon added: “You’re still caring for the families and the deceased. The job I came from caring when they were alive, now its the next step.

“Empathy is heightened with females, especially if the client lost their mum or daughter. They would rather deal with a female than male.”

Sharon said there’s more gender equality now than when she first started 14 years ago – but many more opportunities for women are still needed.

She said: “If this was something you were looking to do, I would recommend having a look to see if there are any open days, speaking to people, putting your CV in.

“My granddaughter is very intrigued and choosing her subjects as it’s the role she wants to follow.

“It just takes that one person to pay interest, so keep pushing.

“I have no regrets. I wish I had done it 40 years ago. It’s a really rewarding job.”

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