The basis of the Masonic institution is fraternity. That is why Freemasonry gather their workers in Lodges, where morality, tolerance and solidarity reigns. However, Freemasonry also dedicates to family the best of its attention. And although woman does not participate, directly, in the Masonic work, can not be said that they not provide their collaboration, whilst their husbands are devoted to work in the Lodge, wives are the guardians of their home and children.
The Masons render, therefore, to women not only the respect they deserve as mothers, wives, sisters and daughters, but also the admiration they are entitled as the "ornament of humanity", throughout they have performed a great and civilizational role furthering the progress of peoples. Freemasonry don't accept, by tradition, women in their lodges as active members. But in many lodges, they have assistance and supporting roles, diffusing around their gentleness, the love to the neighbor and the notable virtues that are qualities of the feminine sensibility.
Chalk G. Huard (L’art Royal -p. 145) mentions that in his famous speech, on 21st March, 1737, Ramsay [Chevalier] justified the exclusion of women from Freemasonry, arguing that their presence may change the purity of morals. We know, however, that the reasons are rather different and go back to the dawn of human societies. When freemasonry was created their meetings were held in taverns, which, for more selected they could be, were not quite the place for ladies. Away from the tradition of the stone masons art that won't allow women to be manual workers, the clubs in fashion, thereforte, where restricted to men, a place for business. The British always loved Men clubs and freemasonry started in England. This rule, however, was not express explicitly in any of the "old obligations" (Old Charges) of Freemasonry, and every Masonic regulation refers only to men and many of them could be applied to women, anyway. The corporations regulations prohibit the employment of women in the banks of industry, with exception of the widow of the master of the workplace or his daughter. [...]
Anatoli Oliynik (of Brasil Maçom) [to whom we are deeply in debt for the transcription]