The question of why women are not allowed to join regular Masonic Lodges as full members often comes up when a married candidate considers putting in his petition. This is a very important question that unfortunately does not have a simple answer.
First of all, Freemasonry is a Fraternity. It is a brotherhood. This by definition means: men. If it was an organization exclusively for women, then it would be called a sorority.
The simple answer is that it is based on the Landmarks of Freemasonry. These are the foundational principles that all lodges must agree to in order to be considered regular and accepted by all other lodges. Besides a belief in a supreme being, is the idea that a Mason must be a man, freeborn, and of lawful age. This is based on historical and cultural beliefs that the man was the head of the household and responsible for his family. Women in Medieval and Renaissance Europe were legally assumed to be subject to their fathers, then to their husbands after marriage.
Even though it might be considered outdated by some, one must consider that organized, speculative Freemasonry is over 300 years old. The lodges follow the traditions and structures that were set into place back then and have only modified themselves in ways that are consistent with the ideas and landmarks of Freemasonry itself. After all, one of the landmarks states that there shall not be any inventions in Freemasonry. If one wanted to change such a foundational requirement and still be considered regular and accepted, then all other Grand Lodges throughout the world would have to pass a similar law.
Freemasonry is an organization that members can join of their own free will, by applying to it voluntarily. It allows members to be in an environment that is supportive and open-minded. There are few spaces in modern life that men are allowed to show vulnerability, masonry is one of them.
Finally, family and family values are an important part of a Freemason’s life. Freemasonry can provide men and their families with a fun and active social life with like-minded people from all walks of life. Freemasons are very appreciative of the support our partners and families give us as it is vital to our development as Freemasons.