How ironic that writing about men and especially alpha Russian men is the natural International Women’s Day topic for one Elahe Izadi, who is taking over the honorary batton from Kathy Lally.
While Western feminists whine about mansplaining, many Russian women are doing more productive things.
How on Earth could this be when Russia has a thousand times fewer Women’s Studies departments than the US?
On that note, I got a rather interesting correspondence in response to an analogous post last year in which I pointed out Russia’s (and Eastern’s Europe’s, including Poland’s) relatively high percentages of female CEOs.
Does this also make a good argument in favor of gender quotas? Russia, Poland, Georgia, Baltics, Armenia, and most other countries who did really well on that list never really had anything like the modern feminist movement, but some things that they did have in common are gender quotas together with an aggressive information campaign aimed at getting women more involved in traditionally male areas or work. AFAIK these policies existed in the former Soviet Bloc in both informal and formal levels (for example 30% minimum representation quotas in all Soviets up to the Supreme Soviet). And they had these quotas long before France or Sweden thought of them.
This study shows to me one thing – that the results of these policies stick, they don’t disappear immediately when the quotas are removed, even if the financial and political systems suffer a serious shakeup and reshuffle. One of the common arguments against quotas of any kind is that they are ineffective – they create an illusion of equality, underneath which the actual inequality not only persists but exacerbates, since the party that is benefiting from the quota system starts to take it for granted and no longer has a reason to work as hard to compete with others for its share of the pie. As a consequence, there is a fear that should the quotas be withdrawn, its share of the pie may not only rapidly drop to its pre-quota levels, but even further than that, since the underlying inequality worsened. But this statistic offers at least some reassurance that it is not the case. It’s been 25 years since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the accompanying quota system, the Russian political and economic landscape was pretty radically re-configured and changed many hands since then, yet apparently the Russian women at least in business are still more affluent than their peers in their West, strongly suggesting that the Communist policies in this regard were effective. Perhaps the Commies were just ahead of their time, what do you think?
Of course, this has potential implications not only for gender quotas but all kinds of quota systems – ethnic quotas, race quotas, etc.
Quotas/”affirmative action” are not of course the most popular policy proposal around these parts, but its hard to think of an alternate cultural or deep historic explanation. Russia, Poland, etc. are Slavic, but the Caucasus and Baltic peoples are not. The Ex-Soviet bloc and China have the communitarian family as their traditional family… But Poland is egalitarian nuclear, while both Thailand and Indonesia – 5th and 6th, respectively – are anomic. The Hajnal line obviously plays no role here.
Economic structure? Russian companies tend to be big and bureacratic, and a considerable percentage are state-owned, which all in all favor women more, but the likes of Estonia are full of small private firms.
The two lowest countries, just as last year, are Japan and Germany. Both have big manufacturing industries and relatively patriarchal attitudes in which working mothers are stigmatized. But that also describes Italy, but Italy is 10th on the list of countries by percentage of CEOs. It’s an interesting puzzle.