chapter  4
24 Pages

A Question of Difference: Women as Losers

ByBertram Silverman, Murray Yanowitch

The Soviet Union gave women legal equality at work in the home, but women's equality in both places was undermined by their treatment as secondary members of the labor force and by traditional perceptions of women's roles at home. A considerable amount of Soviet literature documented the relatively disadvantaged position of women as reflected in their earnings, occupational status, and responsibility for household chores. Soviet communism promoted women's full participation in the workplace as a precondition for achieving social and political economic equality. In seeking to reduce women's "double burden" and protect their maternal functions, Soviet law treated women differently from men. As the Russian economy stumbled toward a market system, women discovered that special laws protecting their ability to fulfill family roles while fully employed undermined their ability to compete in the new labor market. In March 1989, the Soviet government's principal statistical agency undertook a sample survey designed to compare the distribution of men's and women's earnings.