Date of Conferral





Business Administration


Karla S. Phlypo


Women comprise over 57% of all U.S. mortuary school students, yet less than 20% of all funeral directors employed in this country are women. As such, women are underrepresented as funeral directors in the funeral industry. Research to date has not established clear differences between perceived gender roles and occupations in the funeral service industry. The research questions examined the perceived differences of gender role characteristics of masculine, feminine, and androgyny between the occupations of funeral service providers and nursing. Bem's gender role theory was the theoretical framework of this study. The research compared the mean scores of male and female funeral service professionals and nursing professionals as measured by the validated Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI). A sample consisted of 214 randomly selected male (n = 88) and female (n = 25) funeral service professionals and male (n = 37) and female (n = 64) nurse professionals. Data scores were analyzed using the factorial multivariate analysis of variance method. Results indicated nonsignificant gender role differences between male and female funeral directors. Funeral directors appear more androgynous compared to nurses. The present study contributed to the development of this important and neglected area of research by quantitatively examining the gender role perceptions of men and women in the funeral service industry for the first time. This study results highlighted the complexity in self-perceived gender role characteristics as measured by BSRI. When the funeral profession begins to dispel gender stereotypes and discrimination issues, positive social change can occur.