«I won't back on anyone in my life, there was no one to “laze” myself to»: women-railways under conditions of washing out traditional gender roles in the material support of the family in the end of the 1960s – 1980s

Author(s):  E.N. Menshikova, candidate of Sciences, Belgorod National Research University, Belgorod, Russia, menshikova@bsu.edu.ru

Issue:  Volume 46, № 3

Rubric:  Topical issues of russian history

Annotation:  The article is based on a study of oral memories (history of professional and life strategies) of female railway workers, employees of the train traffic control service of Belgorod branch of the Southern Railway of the USSR Ministry of Railways (Kursk and Stary Oskol sites: Belgorod – Klukva station, Saraevka-I - Saraevka-II – Stary Oskol). They were the most important figures in the railway transport, the train dispatchers, station attendants, operators-«movers». The author considers some manifestations (in the form of the family) of the transformation of their gender identity, which occurred under the influence of the specifics of professional employment (“extreme” working everyday life). The main factors of transformation of their gender identity are revealed: the «commanding» nature of the work of women - employees of the traffic service, who exercised the sole leadership of the organization of train movement within the station, the relatively high level of wages and material support, and the possibility of purchasing scarce goods and products from drivers and high-speed train conductors, plying between Moscow and Kharkov. In this regard, the role of women – «movers» in the material security of the family turned out to be comparable (or even higher) with other members (parents, husband, adult children).

Keywords:  women's history, oral history, gender identity, women railway workers, train control service, USSR, 1960–1980s.

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