Rosie the {Russian} Riveter

One group that is often overlooked during wartime is women. Traditional values in Soviet  culture told women to stay at home to tend to the children, cook dinner, clean up, and take care of other household issues. However, during the 1940s while men were away at war, women played a very different role in Soviet life. Women became “married to the state,” sacrificing their personal lives in order to serve the state by going to work in factories and the industrial sector. The “traditional roles” women held in films, songs, and poems didn’t correlate to the actual roles women took on during the war.

“By the end of the summer of 1941, women comprised 70 per cent of the industrial labour force in Moscow” (Freeze, 386)

Women became the breadwinners of the family as their husbands were fighting the Germans and work was still needing to be done so the economy wouldn’t suffer as well. The agricultural sector was no different. Agriculture was “feminized” in other words, mainly run by women rather than the men who used to labor in the fields. The Red Army took over machines and horses in such grand number that women attempted to pull ploughs themselves (Freeze, 386). See here.

I find this interesting because this looks a lot like women’s roles in America during the early 1940s. Millions of American women went to work in jobs that were previously only held by men during World War II to “do her part” to help during the War.


Does she look familiar? Rosie the Riveter was the iconic picture of a working woman. As Soviet women left the home and took on industrial and agricultural jobs, women in America were doing the same, all to serve their respective states and help in any way they could. “In 1945, Soviet women workers outnumbered men workers.” (Red Papers) And that was just one sector. Women took over medical, agricultural, transportation, and construction fields and comprised a large part of each area. Likewise, “by 1945, nearly one out of every four married women worked outside of the home” (History).

After reading Love and Romance in War from Seventeen Moments, the only part that really stuck out to me was that Soviet women were portrayed as homemakers, but were actually hardworking women who deserved a little more credit than (I’m sure) they get!

Freeze, Gregory. “Russia A History” 3rd Edition.

Featured Image: here


6 thoughts on “Rosie the {Russian} Riveter

  1. I love this post! I really likes how you made the comparisons between American and Russian women during this time period. It’s also pretty cool to see how a lot of women stepped up to the plate and did the jobs that men didn’t think they could do.
    I also like how you hyperlinked your sources. Definitely going to do that next week. It looks much nicer than just having at the bottom of the page.


  2. It was important, specifically in a communist state, for the economy to remain stable, and it is fascinating to see the impact working women left. I liked that you pointed out how pop culture at the time did not accurately represent the lives of Soviet women, despite becoming a large part of multiple economic sectors. Your comparison with the US was also interesting. Nice work!


  3. This was a wonderful post! I loved the connection between the US and Russia in regards to female laborers. The pictures gave a nice visual. Enabling the workforce is extreme important in order to produce, especially in times of war.


  4. What a cool post! The title is terrific, and I really appreciate how you push the analysis of the gap between the many things women actually did (what didn’t they do?!) and the conservative gendered norms that were much more limited. The photo of the women pulling the plow is really impressive!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You do a great job of showing just how important women were to the war effort! When I first began reading your post, I automatically started thinking about the similarities that Soviet women had to American women during this time period. The image that you have of women pulling the plow themselves is amazing! It really shows just how dedicated the women were to maintaining the economy while the men were away.


  6. Nice job on your post! I always like how women are seen as weak and homely yet we throughout history have proven to be much much more than that. It is really interesting to see that Russian women were going through the same transition that American women were in the work force. I wonder if when the war was over if they got the recognition that they deserve and if they got to keep their jobs.


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