The gender differentiations in Russia have always been a part of the culture and refer to the economic processes in the country the same way as to the social ones. Mroz and Zimmermann (279) point out that after the switch from the Soviet Union state to an independent country Russia has not introduced many considerable changes regarding the relation between male and female individuals in versatile aspects of life. According to the researches mentioned by Vovk, more than half of Russian population agrees on the gender inequality and some discrimination about women. It is believed that “women normally lose in gender competition” (Vovk). The following statements and opinions present the outsider vision on the situation and clarify it.
There are four main reasons for the gender inequality in Russia identified by the several researchers. At first, there are spheres of activity, where a single gender is dominant. For example, if to speak about labour, one can mention a job of a school teacher or a cashier, which in Russia are mainly stored for the women. The same is with the jobs at the construction sites – it is more likely that a male worker will be employed there. As Snezhkova (24) reports, the number of women employed in the industrial sector in the last decade of the 20th century has felt by around 50 percent. Therefore, much depends on occupation and specialization (Mroz and Zimmermann 280).
At second, the wages and career opportunities at different job levels are not similarly distributed, which means that in some types of jobs the representatives of one gender have a higher income than the other gender, while in the other types of jobs the situation is other way round. What is even stranger, the salaries for male and female employees can differ even within the same sphere (Snezhkova 25), and this is an obvious aspect of inequality. At third, Russia is a multinational federation and the biggest country in the world and this assumes that the gender inequalities as well as gender distribution depend on the regional zones and the overall development of a certain area (Snezhkova 24). This also includes the topographic division into urban and rural zones. Finally, much depends on the psychological distinctions between the genders and the way the Russian people perceive responsibilities and duties at home and at the workplace.
The introductory comment made by Mroz and Zimmermann (280) in the studies of symposiums on gender differences is that the primary distinction in gender policies in Russia comes from the differences in occupations of both genders. Women cannot fully disclose their potential (Vovk) and often have to content themselves with the jobs in the sphere of education, health care, and social services, which are said by Snezhkova (24) to be the least well-paid in Russia.
Mroz and Zimmermann (280) also informed that in the low-wage jobs, men are paid less than women, while in the highly-paid jobs men have better income level and comprise the dominant share among educated and skillful employees within the gender composition. Snezhkova (25) supports and discloses this argument by summarizing the following: “Most women are paid less than men.” The average difference in the salaries is around 30 percent. It is also interesting to mention that both the employed and unemployed women in Russia in most cases refer themselves to the lower social class. It can be explained by a well-known statistics showing that the share of the population in the upper social class in Russia is abysmal, so the most of the people belong either to middle or lower stratum.
To add to those mentioned above, I would state that the population with lower qualifications can most benefit from the hard physical work, which is not highly valued in Russia regarding the personal income. This type of work requires technical education or even does not require knowledge at all. Such job positions are usually unattractive because of the work conditions and responsibilities. Therefore, low-paid male workers are the emigrants to Russia from the neighboring countries who find such employment conditions to be better than those they could potentially have in their motherland. At the same time, women can get a ‘clean’ job in the office, and clerks in Russia are known to be better paid than the employees who use their physical power at work.
With the development of new types of businesses and fields, men started occupying more positions as office clerks. Vovk identifies better opportunities for the men to succeed nowadays. The statistics provided by Snezhkova (25) suggests that in the last decades, the number of men working in finances, trading, and insurance tripled, while the number of women increased only by 20 percent. Men get employed and promoted more often (Vovk). Besides, this makes the fact evident that nowadays in Russia the expansion of the male workforce that uses intellect to earn money is ten times greater than the one in the female workforce of the same types of occupation. And even though the women are said to be better educated than men and can have equal or higher level of skills at the workplace, a woman is always observed as a person who is primarily associated with family (Vovk). A stereotype about the Russian women exists telling that the primary vocation of a woman is to dedicate themselves to the family, which is not always proving to be true.
Both genders are involved in similar activities in their free time. Many of them work at home or deal with the household, have freelance projects or permanent occupations, which usually do not require special education or training. Snezhkova (28) reports that Russian women are more loyal to their activities and try not to change them. Such occupations are quite long-lasting, although a woman on average spends 30 percent less on them than men do. These peculiarities are mostly explained by the calmer nature of a female character and the higher level of adaptability. Besides, the childbearing period for the woman is also reflected in her social life and employment career. Traditionally, women in Russia are not encouraged to work at this period. Pregnant women are always respected and helped in the society, but many Russians would say that a woman cannot combine job responsibilities and bring up a child well (Vovk). However, there are other conditions which predetermine the refusal of a female individual from the regular job. They include a stable financial situation in the family and age factor. Less than a half of women will work if the economic conditions in the family allow not doing this. As to the age, the least attractive age for a woman to work is between 25 and 40. In the younger and older years, females are more enthusiastic about having a job or a permanent occupation, Snezhkova (29) points out. Here one should mention that the role of a man in the family is always the role of the breadwinner and the abstention from work by a man is not accepted in the society. The patriarchal model in the gender structure is dominant in Russia (Vovk).
Using the research statistics, Snezhkova (31) concludes that the overall gender discrimination in Russia concerning the labor aspects is equal to 15-20 percent. There is no apparent gender discrimination regarding marital status either for men or women. The Russian society does not accept much female power in the field of politics in the country. Ethical differences are not among the factors of gender inequality as well.
In the life of modern Russia, the inequality of genders is quite blurred and cannot identify the social situation in the country indeed. Discrimination is reported mostly in the big cities and does not reflect the overall mood of the society (Vovk). However, there is evidence that it exists. The way it exists is mainly predetermined by the idea of life established in the past so several generations more should change to reduce this harmful social process. The stabilization of the economic and political situation in Russia might probably accelerate the switch to more democratic and equal relations between the genders.
Mroz, Thomas A. & Zimmermann, Klaus F. “Symposium On Gender
Differences In Transition To Market Economies“. Journal of Population Economics 13.2 (2000): 279-281. Print.
Snezhkova, Irina A. “Ethnic Aspects of Gender Social Inequality”.
Russian Social Science Review 46.3 (2005): 23-34. Print.
Vovk, E. Gender Inequality and Women’s Role in Contemporary
Russia. The Journal of Sociological Observations and Reporting, 2006. Web. 5 May 2011.
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