Motivating Women to Take up Men’s Jobs: A Russian Analysis


Motivating Women to Take up Men’s Jobs: A Russian Analysis


On 22-23 September 2015, a round-table meeting took place in St Petersburg to analyse the factors influencing women to enter into sea and space careers which were traditionally considered as masculine.  A wide range of women leaders from various fields contributed in the round table meeting organised by the Russian Federation of Cosmonauts, the Admiral Makarov State Maritime University and SCF Group (Sovcomflot), also the event hosts.

Russia had been facilitating the progress of women in their careers from the early twentieth century.  A recent international research report ‘Women in Business: the path to leadership’, published by Grant Thornton (2015), found that women represent 40 per cent of those in senior management roles in Russia.  This compares with 15 per cent in Brazil, 14 per cent in Germany and just 8 per cent in Japan.  The round table meeting will maximise the full potential of women in the workplace.

It involved over 30 participants, including professors of the Admiral Makarov State Maritime University, SCF Group psychologists, female ship’s officers and female students of the Admiral Makarov Maritime University.  The key speakers of the conference included the youngest Russian Cosmonaut Mrs Yelena Serova and Third Officer Ms Lyana Mitrofanova from Sovcomflot.

Motivation for  career choices can be aroused from an early age, in the first year of primary school, as a result of a teacher who discussed space a lot.  The maritime education plunges some into a seagoing career. However, some get quickly became enchanted by it.  

The advantages of a seagoing career, according to a woman leader are:

  1. The ability to focus fully on work
  2. A true professionalism
  3. Long holidays in between to spend time with friends and family.

Women can have a career as a Cosmonaut or at sea if the necessary requirements are met.  However, women have to initially work especially hard to be taken seriously and to prove to some male colleagues that the are good enough to work with.  Mrs Serova added that the right education to train as a cosmonaut and also  physical fitness for a space travel are essential.

Mrs Serova and Ms Mitrofanova felt that there is no need for competition between the genders and that a better work outcome is possible as a result of cross-gender cooperation.

Commenting on the conference Mr Sergey Frank, President of Sovcomflot said: “This round table has been an opportunity to share experiences and to raise the profile of careers in space and at sea amongst women.  At Sovcomflot, human capital is our greatest asset and anything we can do to encourage applications from women not only makes us better corporate citizens it also makes sound commercial sense.”

The following are the roundtable meeting conclusions:

  1. The profession has to effectively attract people with the right skills, knowledge and commitment.
  2. It should not be gender-based quotas.
  3. High profile women (Mrs Serova and Ms Mitrofanova) as role models do inspire young women to ‘dare to be different’.
  4. Careers in space and at sea need to be demystified – especially for women.
  5. Women must be seen as professionals first and then as women to eradicate gender bias.
  6. There is a need to build awareness of careers at sea and in space.

Source: SCF Group