Women's entrance is now generally accepted in Continental (Grand Orient) countries. Although neither mixed nor all-female lodges are officially recognized in Anglo-American Freemasonry, unofficial connections can be friendly, with premises often shared. In fact, many women found inspiration in Masonry to help them through difficult times - either because of its humanitarian focus or because of its spiritual side.
During World War II, female Masonic membership increased substantially as women worked alongside men in factories and offices. Now that the war is over, the number of women in Freemasonry has returned to pre-war levels although there are still some regions of the world where it is not acceptable for women to be involved in Freemasonry.
In the United States, Canada and most other Western nations, women are fully integrated into Masonic activities. They may even be elected as officers who lead lodge meetings and have direct control over the business conducted within their lodge.
In some parts of the world, especially in the Middle East, women are not allowed to read from the Koran during prayers so this is usually done by male priests. It is also forbidden for women to learn theology or conduct research on religion. Only men who have completed religious studies are allowed to teach others about Islam; they are called imams. Women are also excluded from church services and other important aspects of religious life.
In North America, neither "mainstream" Freemasonry nor Prince Hall Freemasonry welcome women, preferring to affiliate with distinct entities, some of which are described above, that are "Masonic" in character but not Masonic in content. However, many organizations that call themselves Masonic but which exclude women from membership do exist throughout the world.
The only female Freemason in history was Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, daughter of King George III. She was initiated into St. John's Lodge, London, on four occasions - in 1835, 1846, 1847 and again in 1850. Her father refused to let her be admitted to more than four degrees because he felt it would be too much for her young age. She did, however, receive all the other benefits of Freemasonry at her initiation ceremonies including a red carpet and flowers.
Today, several Grand Lodges grant charters to women-only lodges where they can pursue their Masonic interests independently of the regular fraternity. For example, three grand lodges in New York State (Otterbein, Yates and Adirondack) authorize Queen Esther College of New York to use their names when applying for tax-exempt status. The only requirement for membership is a sincere desire to learn about Freemasonry and its purpose. Women who identify as male will not be granted membership.
However, as Free and Accepted, we do not and will not acknowledge women in our lodges. As a result, homosexuals cannot plead for the sake of mainstream American Masonry because they are women. The same is true for transgender people. Let's be honest. No one is asking to be admitted into Freemasonry because they are gay or transgendered.
In fact, being gay or transgendered is a reason why some people want to join Freemasonry in the first place. They like the idea of having a group that will accept them so they can have a community of their own. But once they learn about how we operate, they usually decide that this isn't the place for them.
Being a woman is also a reason some people want to join Freemasonry. It used to be that women could not become Masons because there were no women-only lodges in which they could study together with other Masons. But today many women's groups across the country hold their own meetings where they discuss topics related to Freemasonry. These events are not public nor are they connected to mainstream Freemasonry but they allow women to get together and learn more about our fraternity.
So yes, being a woman is a reason why some people want to join Freemasonry. Just like being gay or transgendered.
Facts about Freemasonry
Freemasonry invites men of all countries, religions, races, ages, income levels, education levels, and political views. To join Freemasonry, however, one must satisfy the following requirements: You must be a guy of at least 18 years of age (the minimum age varies in some jurisdictions, sometimes up to 21).
The first thing you need to know about Freemasonry is that it has nothing to do with religion. Although most Masonic lodges are Christian in nature, not all Christians are Freemasons. The second thing you need to know is that while some Masons believe they can improve their social status by becoming involved with the organization, this is not the main purpose of membership. The third thing you should understand is that while some Masons have joined the fraternity because they want to make friends, this is not the main reason people join Freemasonry. The fourth thing you should know is that while some Masons travel to meetings every week or two months, others stay closer to home and meet occasionally for dinner or a movie night together.
Now that you know these things about Freemasonry, we can talk about how you can join. First, anyone can apply for membership. There is no requirement other than being a man and being over the age of 17. Some lodges will ask you to provide some documentation regarding your age, but otherwise there is no limit to the number of applications that can be made.