UMass Economics

Ina Ganguli’s article “Did the USSR top the US on gender equality in science?” published in University World News

From University World News
Ina Ganguli –  Issue No:486

Valentina Tereshkova’s famous flight to space in 1963 became a striking symbol of the Soviet Union’s commitment to gender equality, heralding that Soviet women were indeed on “equal footing with men to advance science, culture and the arts”. 

Meanwhile, it took 20 more years for the first US woman, Sally Ride, to enter space in 1983. Was Tereshkova’s flight indicative of broader gender equality among Soviet scientists, with the US lagging behind? Or did the words of the Chair of the Soviet Women’s Committee Zoya Pukhova in 1988, that “there is a gap between the official policy of equality for women, and the reality, in which few keep pace with men in the working world”, ring true in Soviet academe?

The Soviet Union was ahead of other countries at the time on many key measures of gender equality, such as female labour force participation and representation among scientific researchers.