Newspaper, Women Workers

The increased presence of women in the workforce as a result of industrialization and other aspects of modernization during the 1930s was documented in government publications. While the numbers themselves cannot be independently verified, the more important analytical question involves asking about the explicit claims and underlying issues in these sources. In this article, published in the Minsk city newspaper, it is clear that government efforts to recruit women workers did not eliminate problems encountered at work, including discrimination at the hands of men, as well as broader problems, including work assignments, wages, and prostitution.

Source: Minkin, Z. “The Bolshevik factory still does not have any women-master workers.” Rabochii, July 7, 1931.

In the past year, in connection with the overall growth in production, new ranks of women workers have flowed into the “Bol’shevik” factory. At the present time, women make up 26.2 percent of all workers at the factory.

A large share of the newly entered women workers are the wives of workers who had already been working at the plant. As a result, the status of mass cultural and political educational work among these workers has clear significance.

At the “Bol’shevik” factory, 79 percent of women workers are shock workers. But the Party stratum among women workers is only 9.2 percent, whereas it has reached 30 percent among all workers at the factory. This clearly indicates that recruitment among women workers is insufficient.

The promotion of women into more qualified jobs and the training of women to take the place of men’s labor within certain limits has been unsatisfactory within this factory. Many older women workers, who have worked for a long time at the factory, have been assigned to work not requiring qualifications and thus have not progressed any further. For example, at jobs near the presses, near the finishing machines, or involving work as planers, the number of women workers can be counted on a single hand. Yet a large share of women workers are assigned to unskilled labor not requiring any qualifications.

It is sufficient to note that not a single woman worker can be found among the staff of master workers, despite the presence of a number of women workers who have already worked many years in factory, have sufficient qualifications, and could be assigned to this work.

Because of the shortage of master workers, it happens that when the master worker of a particular section or workshop has to be away for several days, no one is available to take his place. Yet if the desire were there, it would not be difficult to train a couple of women to become master workers. It would also be possible to train a large number of women workers for other kinds of qualified positions.

The situation is no better regarding the development of mass work among women workers. It is true that 14 percent of women workers received various kinds of awards for their shock work. A group made up of activist women workers is coming together. But inadequate efforts among women workers has meant that only 2 percent participating in rationalization measures. The percent of women workers in all kinds of public organizations is lower than the percent of men workers.

The weakness of work among women workers is explained by the “absence of personal responsibility” in this area. Women’s organizers change frequently, and as a result this work is quite unsatisfactory.