WOMEN AND TEMPLE SERVICE IN ANCIENT EGYPT
There is no division in Ancient Egypt between church and state; the temples were as much a department of government as any other state activity. Each temple was responsible to the Pharaoh, worshipped a single god or goddess, and had no relationship to any other temple. The priesthood was like any other job: it might be full or part time; one might work for two temples without implying any relationship between the temples; one could be a priest and still hold other office in the community. In addition to the priests, each temple had an administrative staff who managed the temple's assets and maintained the building.
In charge of everything was the high priest (literally first servant of the god) assisted by as many as three deputies (second servant of the god, etc.) Below them were fathers of the god and other middle management posts, lector priests, wab priests and priests (servants of the god). The lector priests read the sacred texts during the ceremonies.
In the Old and Middle Kingdoms many elite women bore the title priestess in the temple of Hathor or Neith. There were also a few women who were wab priestesses, but no woman held higher rank than that. The temples of Hathor and Neith had few male priests and we do not really know very much about the relative duties of priests and priestesses in these two temples. By the New Kingdom the title Priestess had disappeared completely.
The title God's Wife of Amun first appeared in the Middle Kingdom as a priestly office. (Perhaps it should be noted here that despite the name there was nothing sexual in the office.) In the New Kingdom the title was given only to royal women (usually the Pharaoh's Great Wife) and acquired its own estate. While the office continued to have sacred duties they were clearly secondary.
Next to Mistress of the House the most common title given to a woman in the New Kingdom was shemayet (musician) in the temple of a particular god or goddess. They apparently sang hymns and played a sistrum (a rattle which was used to pacify gods and goddesses). Men and women were musicians, but it is interesting to note that the women musicians came from all classes in society while the men were from the lower class only.
We do not know if the musicians were paid or not, nor do we know if their jobs were full or part time. The female musicians were under the direction of an elite woman bearing the title Great One of the Troupe off Musical Performers, but we do not know if the male musicians were under her charge or not. It is quite possible that wealthy women volunteered their services and lower class musicians were paid.
It would appear, then, that women were always involved in temple worship but never at the senior level of priesthood and never in a management role beyond the supervision of other women.