Women in the Russian workforce
DOI link for Women in the Russian workforce
Women in the Russian workforce book
In the Russian Federation, any mid-career working woman in her forties has witnessed a sweeping transformation of her country. 1 These extensive changes include the collapse of the USSR and the redrawing of international borders; the painful transition from a socialist economy to a new capitalist order; the jettisoning of the rule of the Communist Party and of communist ideology in favor of a new and still-evolving regime characterized by a growing authoritarianism replacing the fragile democratization of the 1990s; and the initial opening of the country to global contact and influence giving way to an increasingly vigorous effort under Vladimir Putin’s leadership to purge the country of undesirable “foreign meddling,” primarily aimed at western promotion of civil society and human rights. Especially acute was the degree of devastation suffered in the economic transition of the 1990s, arguably the most severe economic decline in world history, in which statistical real wages in 1998 fell to only half of their 1985 level (Ashwin 2006a, 1). These shock waves had far-reaching effects on women’s lives and received ample attention from scholars, who focused on such topics as rising unemployment, downward mobility, the feminization of poverty, the gutting of welfare benefits from pensions for the elderly to preschools and nurseries for the young, and the emergence of new independent women’s organizations and a nascent women’s movement (Nechemias 1991; Posadskaya 1994; Bridger et al. 1996; Lipovskaya 1997; Sperling 1999). Unlike the economic crisis of the 1990s, however, the impact of the 2008 global economic recession on women has remained largely unexamined. Coming on the heels of ten years of impressive economic growth, that crisis, though short-lived and less ruinous, nonetheless engulfed and shocked the country, producing a sharp downturn in GDP along with an upswing in unemployment and poverty and then ushering in an era of lower economic growth rates. The 2008 economic crisis highlights key questions regarding the trajectory of Russian society and competing visions of the 162pathway to modernization, choices of immense importance to women. This chapter focuses on how the Russian state has responded to the quandaries posed by globalization and western challenges and on current trends that promise to reshape gender ideology and women’s societal status in wide-ranging ways as new opportunities and roadblocks surface for women (Johnson and Saarinen 2013; Smyth and Soboleva 2014).