Wednesday, March 10, 2021

A Baker’s Dozen of Facts about Women in Russia Today

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 8 – Today is International Women’s Day, and the Russian media have been filled with stories about the female half of the population. Below are 12 facts about Russian women generated by the Higher School of Economics and a 13th about women in the Russian North from The Barents Observer on the basis of demographic statistics ( and


1.      Young Russian women are following far more varied life trajectories than their parents, with many choosing professional careers over marriage.


2.      An increasing share of them, albeit still in the single digits, consists of women who choose not to have children at all.


3.      A major factor in such choices is that Russian employers prefer not to hire or promote women who do choose to have children. The employers not the state are responsible in this case.


4.      Grandmothers increasingly are not playing the role they did in raising grandchildren, thus making it more difficult for mothers to work outside the home and changing the transmission patterns of cultural values.


5.      Russian women are now more inclined to think about divorce than are men, a reflection of their increasing ability to make their own ways in the world.


6.      Women in Russia live far longer than men and so dominate age cohorts among seniors.


7.      Ever more Russian women are consuming larger and larger amounts of alcohol, reducing that gender imbalance.


8.      Women found it far more difficult than men to adapt to the pandemic restrictions that forced many to remain at home.


9.      Russian women increasingly dominate highly qualified specialists among younger age groups, Almost 50 percent of women but only 36 percent of men between 25 and 29 have university degrees.


10.  Many families still promote different life paths for their daughters than for their sons. They are more likely to support decisions by sons to become scientists than similar decisions by daughters.


11.  Schools and universities do too little to overcome this and in fact track women away from STEM fields into others, thus recreating rather than overcoming gender imbalances.


12.  Russian women still face numerous glass ceilings. Even though they are often more qualified than men, they still are not represented equally in the upper reaches of academic, business or government pyramids.  


13.  And women among ethnic minorities, at least in the Russian North, live even longer relative to men than is the case among ethnic Russians, something that had left that region, in the words of The Barents Observer, “the land of aging women.”

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