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History of women's education in Russia

Russian Women Education and Career Prospects. Russian Women Education info. Russian Women Education facts

The fist reference to women education dates back to the 11th century when Anna Vsevoldovna, a sister of Vladimir II Monomakh, a Grand Prince of Kievan Rus established the first female college in Andreevsky monastery in Kiev.

Society for the Education of Young Noble Ladies

Since the beginning of the 17th century a good home education for girls was a privilege of the aristocracy. Peter the Great started a girls' educational academy as a part of Westernization of Russia. First private secular school sthat taught girls appeared in 1724. The nuns were instructed to teach reading and writing to the orphans of both sexes, the girls were additionally taught sewingand other handiwork.

The first obstetrics classes for women were established in Moscow and St-Petersburg in 1754 and later in other cities of Russia. In the middle of the 18th century the privately financed boarding houses for girls also appeared.

The start of female education in Russia is considered to be the arrangement of the private Society for the Education of Young Noble Ladies in St. Petersburg (1764) situated in Novodevichy (Smolny) Convent with a branch for petty-bourgeois maidens (1765). It was designed by I. I. Betsky the outstanding teacher and the organizer of the educational affair in Russia, by the order of Empress Catherine II.

However the educational reform of 1804 did nit solve the problem of women's education as the number of boys taught in common colleges schools for the upper class greatly outnumbered the number of girls. In general up to the middle of the 19th century the women's education in Russian was greatly determined by the social class.

By the middle of the 19th century the system of privileged secondary education in Russia was attacked by the country outstanding democrats that criticized its class determination, sluggishness, domination of teaching in foreign languages, being far from real life needs and disregard of Russian national culture.

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The social movement made the state increase the educational institutions for girls and the opportunities to get the education in common schools. By the middle of the 60th Russia was ranked the 1st in Europe that invested in development of female education. However it still was a privilege of girls form well-off families.

Nadezhda Suslova

The second part of the 19th century was characterized by a closer attention to the education of girls of all social classes. Free sabbath school were available for both boys girls, however the number of girls was still insignificant.

Hundreds of women appeared in Kiev and Kharkov Universities as well. A wide-spread form of getting education for women became so called "fleeting schools" when known professors conducted free classes for women.

However in 1864 women were officially banned from universities. The first Russian women who got university diplomas and degrees went to study abroad. In 1867 Nadezhda Suslova moved to Switzerland and graduated from the University of Zurich. Suslova was the first Russian woman to get Doctor of Medicine degree (1867 as surgeon/obstetrician. Russian women made significant achievents in chemistry. The famous names are Anna Volkova (first published her research in chemistry), Valentina Bogdanovskaya, Yulia Lermontova.

Lermontova was the first Russian woman to receive a doctorate in chemistry, she was also an agronomist, a cheese maker and a writer and her work was hailed by the greatest scientists of her day

Famous Russian woman-mathematician, Sofia Kovalevskaya earned her a doctorate in mathematics at the University of Gottingen and became the fist who received the doctorate in Mathematics not only in Russia but in in Europe as well. Nadezhda Gernet, another woman-mathematician received her Ph.D in 1902 in the University of Gottingen

More great Russian women-mathematicians.

After the revolution of 1905-07 the number of girls getting secondary and professional education increased, however the majority of women stayed illiterate. The Russian revolution of the 1917 not only became the milestone in the liberalization and emancipation of women, but was a significant step towards mass education of women.

Nadezhda Krupskaia

Women's education in the USSR

Immediately after the revolution the government launched a drive to provide social and cultural facilities and communal services for women workers and to draw them into training and educational programs.

Russian women - revolution leaders Inessa Armand, Alexandra Kollontai and especially Nadezhda Krupskaia had long maintained and strong interest in education and technically led the development of universal public education in Russia. The new system of universal compulsory education was established for children. Both men and women were were enrolled in special literacy schools. These attempts increased the literacy rate significantly. By 1937 the literacy rate was 86% for men and 65% for women, making a total literacy rate of 75%. Since 1918 all Soviet schools were co-educational. In 1943, urban schools were separated into boys and girls schools. In 1954 the mixed-sex education system was restored.

"Education and labor will provide us new lifestyle" - Soviet agitation poster

The number of women in higher education as a percentage of the total has risen from 28 percent in 1927, to 43 percent in 1960, to 49 percent in 1970. The only other countries where women are over 40 percent of the total in higher education are Finland, the USA and France. Suffice it to say that university education was for long time formal for Russian women in the USSR and during post-Soviet time. Some girls treated the university as just the next step after school, others used it as means to extend the social environment and possibly find a husband, many expected university education as the unemployment insurance rather then obtaining a necessary profession.

The Constitution of the USSR granted women equal rights with men and equal educational possibilities. In reality, though their opportunities were not unequal. Soviet women had to handle the double burden of job and family responsibilities which she had not been liberated from as Bolsheviks fist planned. Besides, the patriarchal views and way of life dominated.

Education and career prospects for women in modern Russia

The compulsory secondary education is free in Russia It provides the minimal required level of education and enables a woman to continue her studies. There are also private schools with high fees. As a rule the curricular are the same for boys and girls as they study together. The only essential distinction lies in courses of housekeeping activities. During this course girls study the ABC of cooking, dressmaking, embroidery, designing and housekeeping. This in itself gives RW some indication of where they are expected to fit into society.

Having got the certificate of secondary education, every Russian girl may take a two-year course of higher grade course or enter a specialized institution of secondary education (technical school, vocational school, college etc.) where she will receive training in some profession alongside with completing her secondary education that will enable her to enter an institution of higher education. According to 2007 research 58% of all university students are girls.

Russian girl-student

One of the problems of women's higher education in Russia is getting married and having a baby during the university years. This problem can be however solved due to the possibility to take a year leave "academic vacation" and then return to the same level which a woman missed or taking correspondence courses if they are available for this profession.

In most cases there is no sex discrimination in receiving training in any profession. Not long ago girls were not admitted to military or marine schools but in recent years this restriction has been lifted so that everybody who passed the entrance exams and was approved by the medical board could get the profession of a policeman/woman, an army officer, a captain of a sea vessel, etc.

The carer prospects of Russian women are different though. The researches register the high education level of Russian women compared to their relatively low chances at the job market. On average, women earn only 70% of men's salaries, and get 40%-50% of their pensions. For a long time, they have been doomed to low-paid spheres - healthcare, education and culture. It is no surprise that women working two or three jobs at the same time become a typically Russian phenomenon. The sociologists admit that the fact Russian women have a double responsibility - the job and taking care of the family, often limits their professional ambitions to simple making a living rather then making a career. This explains why many Russian women having university degrees become shuttle traders or have sales stores at local markets. Even the women who made a successful career often had improving their family financial situation as a basic motivation.

2009 research shows that the greatest proportion of working women are in public health service (85%), education (81%), credit and finance (78%), information and accounting services (75%), whilst the lowest share is in the construction industry (22%). Medical and pedagogical education in Russia has higher priority among women. This is not only the tribute to traditions, but is also explained by the fact that these spheres have been underpaid for long time and thus are not the main target of Russian men.

Women's participation in politics and top management positions is low due to patriarchal views and way of life on the one hand and an artificial career limit on the grounds of sex on the other hand.

Most brilliant women in the government in recent times are Valentina Matviyenko, the ex-governor of St. Petersburg, and Galina Karelova who supervised the ministries in charge of social issues in the early 21st century. There are no women among leaders of major political parties, except Irina Khakamada, who was one of the leaders of the Union of Right Forces, a liberal opposition party, and later on started her own party

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