Death becomes her: Women make inroads in funeral industry

In this Monday, Oct. 22, 2018, photo, funeral services students at State University of New York at Canton make a life mask of another student, in Canton, N.Y. By measuring facial dimensions and symmetry, students learn how to restore facial features lost to illness or trauma on the deceased. Eighty percent of the undergraduate funeral director students at this school are female, mirroring a nationwide trend. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)
In this Monday, Oct. 22, 2018, photo, funeral director Darien Frederick makes adjustments to a display of coffins at Cleveland Funeral Home in Watertown, N.Y. A majority of those who enter the funeral services profession are women, a reversal from previous generations. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)
In this Monday, Oct. 22, 2018, photo, funeral services students Maeve Curran, left, and Anita Bennett start to build a life mask on fellow student Anna Deloriea at State University of New York at Canton. By measuring facial dimensions and symmetry, students learn how to restore facial features lost to illness or trauma on the deceased. Eighty percent of the undergraduate funeral director students at this school are female, mirroring a nationwide trend. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)
In this Monday, Oct. 22, 2018, photo, funeral director Darien Frederick describes funeral options at Cleveland Funeral Home in Watertown, N.Y. A majority of those who enter the funeral services profession are women, a reversal from previous generations. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)
In this Monday, Oct. 22, 2018, photo, funeral services student Anna Deloriea poses with a face mask at State University of New York at Canton. By measuring facial dimensions and symmetry, students learn how to restore facial features lost to illness or trauma on the deceased. Eighty percent of the undergraduate funeral director students at this school are female, mirroring a nationwide trend. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)
In this Monday, Oct. 22, 2018, photo, funeral services student Maeve Curran holds a mask at State University of New York at Canton. By measuring facial dimensions and symmetry, students learn how to restore facial features lost to illness or trauma on the deceased. Eighty percent of the undergraduate funeral director students at this school are female, mirroring a nationwide trend. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

NEW YORK — A training program for the next generation of morticians and undertakers is testament to a change that is slowly remaking the funeral business.

Sixty of the 75 students in the program at the State University of New York Canton are women, and those numbers are no fluke.

The American Board of Funeral Service Education says that in 2017, nearly 65 percent of graduates from funeral director programs in the U.S. were female. That's the highest number ever recorded by the board.

Women coming out of the SUNY Canton program say that for all the progress, they still encounter barriers.

A majority of funeral home owners and directors are still male. And female students say they still battle false notions that they aren't strong enough or are too emotional for the job.

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