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Female collective farmers of the South of Russia as labor re surs mechanization of agrarian production in the 1930th years

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The complex analysis of processes of involvement of female collective farmers is carried out to the sphere of mechanization of agriculture in the 1930th. It is proved that attempts of involvement of the greatest possible number of female collective farmers to the sphere of mechanization differed in low efficiency, owing to the skeptical relation of local heads to training of women in professions of machine operators, difficult material living conditions on production and so forth. Intensified efforts on involvement of female collective farmers to the sphere of mechanization.

The article deals with a complex analysis of women of collective farms involved in the process of agricultural mechanization in 1930-ies. It has been proved that efforts to engage the maximum women of collective farms in the sphere of agricultural mechanization undertaken by the authorities had low effectiveness. The reasons were as follows: critical attitude of local leaders and experts to training women as machine operators, complicated financial and life conditions in agriculture and others. The leading motive to activate the efforts to engage women of collective farms in mechanization was the approaching military threat.

The collectivization which is carried out in the USSR at the end of the 1920-1930th changed in the most essential way a way of life of the Russian village and including life and activity of female peasants. Besides participation in the traditional, habitual industries of agrarian production (field husbandry, livestock production, truck farming, etc.) they began to be involved in development of mechanization of agriculture actively. Women were given an opportunity to receive such new, earlier being considered as typically "men's" professions as the tractor driver, the combine operator, the driver and so forth

The woman steering the tractor became one of the bright symbols of an era of "collective-farm construction" reflecting scale of change of gender roles in the collectivized village. In the Soviet historiography the increase in number of machine operators of agriculture at the expense of female collective farmers moved as undoubtedly positive phenomenon. Considerably it is possible to agree with similar assessment as mastering a profession of the machine operator gave to the rural woman a certain material independence and an opportunity of increase in own social status. As an ideal example to which female machine operators of the South of Russia of the 1930th aspired in this case the Kuban traktoristka of P.I. Kovar-dak who received for achievements in work government awards, sent for study in Timiryazevsky academy in Moscow, became subsequently the deputy of the Supreme Council of the USSR and even received a mention in the well-known "Short course of history of the All-Union Communist Party (bolsheviks)" [1] can act.

The inspired by an example with P. Angelina, P. Co-vardak and other notable female machine operators, many young collective farmers in the 1930th sought to receive a profession of the tractor driver, combine operator, etc.

Authorities only welcomed such moods and in every possible way intensified process of formation of mekhanizatorsky shots at the expense of female population of the village. During collectivization to collective farms it was strongly recommended at a parcel on courses of machine operators (as a rule, they were organized at machine and tractor stations and state farms) "to assign firm percent to collective farmers, especially girls" [2]. At the evening schools of collective-farm youth (SCFY) created in 1932 for the purpose of training of mass qualification for collective farms and MTS it was recommended to allocate not less than 50% of places for female collective farmers [3]. It is necessary to emphasize that the speech first of all went about the girls and young women who are not burdened with family and children yet and completed a course of elementary education at rural comprehensive schools. So, in 1936 from 23 best combine operators of Azovo-Chernomorsky edge 8 were women aged from 21 year up to 28 years [4]. Well-known the Pasha Kovardak, a traktoristka of Kanelovsky MTS, received an award of the Labour Red Banner for excellent operational performance on the tractor in 22 years [5]. On the contrary, collective farmers of advanced age, "detny and illiterate" [6], had not the power, desires to become machine operators.

At the same time a number of factors about which during the Soviet period it was not accepted to speak not only interfered with involvement of women in the list of machine operators, but also seriously leveled efficiency of their professional activity. Impact of these factors on a gender situation in the sphere of mechanization was well noticeable in such important agrarian regions as Don, Kuban and Stavropol Territory where women of joint stock company -

tivno were involved in development of tractors, combines and other mechanisms. In this connection there are essentially important questions. First, than authorities were guided, seeking for transformation of female collective farmers from unskilled assistants in specialists of the separate industries of agrarian production? And whether, secondly, objective conditions of implementation of government programs on accelerated (as well as in general collectivization) favored to formation of female mekhanizatorsky shots?

About by what authorities in the aspiration were guided "to put the woman on the tractor", the head of labor union of working MTS and farm work N.M. Antselovich in 1930 unambiguously told: "Those who philosophize that the woman does not suit for the tractor, forget that now you will find not so many men... Take now some areas where the industry develops - there is not enough labor. Besides, it is necessary to consider also the interests of defense of the country. When the country is threatened by danger, not all of us will sit on the tractor" [7, page 59]. Thus, filling up shots of machine operators at the expense of women, authorities hoped to fill, on the one hand, some lack of men of this profession, and with another - to release a part of male working hands for work in the industry. Also reasons that the prepared women will be able to replace male machine operators during the war were important.

Besides, in our opinion, it is impossible to underestimate features of the attitude towards the woman dominating at that time in the USSR in general and to female labor in particular. In the 1930th (and in the next decades) the Soviet society did not grow to understanding of that obvious fact that easier working conditions are required for the woman: not only owing to its physiology, but also also because on it the problem of huge importance - preservation and transfer to future generations of a gene pool of the nation lies. The Soviet legislation, as a rule, did not see differences between machine operators of different floors. Here obviously the heritage of the Russian village multiplied by the "Bolshevist feminism" demanding for women of equality in everything including in work on production affected.

We will add that N.M. Antselovich did not tell about one important reason of involvement of women to the sphere of mechanization of agrarian production - about the fluidity of mekhanizatorsky shots caused by unsatisfactory material living conditions of work of tractor drivers and combine operators.

Working conditions and position of machine operators the chief of the North Caucasian regional land management well described (krayza) of Boyars in March, 1934: "At us was not developed such relation [to the tractor driver] which would correspond to those tasks and work which are assigned to this person. Often he at us sleeps under the tractor, dirty, undressed, payment of a workday to it is still not made, he eats anyhow, taking out from the dirty pocket the black piece not similar to bread" [8]. Similar conditions of working and life

did not cause any desire to remain faithful to the profession in machine operators; many of them passed from one MTS into another or at all changed a kind of activity. In the early thirties it was noted for that "the fluidity of tractor drivers on separate MTS reaches 80-90%" [9]. By the end of 1932 the fluidity was succeeded to lower a little as a result of introduction of the guaranteed compensation of tractor drivers, surcharges for good condition of the tractor, for night works, etc. However till 1933 MTS was annually left by nearly a half of machine operators, and even in 1934-1939 - about a quarter [7, page 47].

Without hoping to reduce the fluidity of male machine operators by increase in compensation and improvement of production life (as it was almost unreal in the conditions of the Stalin tax and procuring policy directed to pumping out of a maximum of the made village products), authorities sought to fill personnel losses at the expense of women. However for a number of reasons performance of an objective progressed with great difficulty.

First, specific performers on places, namely the guide of MTS and courses to training of machine operators, with a big reluctance took on training (and the subsequent work) women, not without the bases believing that men are less whimsical in the sense of living conditions and according to the physical data are suitable for work on the equipment more. In particular, in the remained documents of the Pyatigorsk labor union of working MTS and farm work for 1931 it is much told about training of the qualified labor for machine and tractor stations, but no word is told about female machine operators [10]. It is indicative that in 1933 the women made on courses of machine operators of the North Caucasian edge only 3% of listeners [11].

Secondly, really it was much more difficult for woman to work on the tractor or the combine, than the man physically. The feature of technical means of the 1920-1930th was that they (the same tractors and combines) were calculated only on dimensions and strength of the man. It was difficult to women even to reach levers or a steering wheel, not to mention other actions. The management of People's Commissariat for Agriculture of the USSR in August, 1936 ordered to remake seats of wheel tractors on more convenient for women, but local authorities ignored this decision [12]. For work on such mechanisms considerable physical efforts were required. In particular, one of the Soviet journalists, describing fall of 1936 school of combine operators in the village of Kuschevskaya of the Azo-vo-Chernomorskogo region, noted that from 63 girls accepted here any could not turn independently so the lever to start the combine motor, the male instructor managed to make it only [13]. Taking into account specifics of technical means of the 1930th it becomes clear that the female machine operators who were trying to obtain Stakhanov indicators in work were heroines doubly. But most of them could not sustain similar loadings and changed the sphere deya-

telnost; turnover of staff was characteristic of machine operators of both sexes.

Thirdly, women were not late in the sphere of mechanization for the same reasons, as men: because of a low wage, heavy material living conditions. Moreover, these factors affected fidelity of women of the profession stronger, than men. For example, during field works the machine operators, as a rule, lived in the cars calculated on several people, quite often slept a vpovalka. The girl, having appeared in such conditions, would feel obviously uncomfortablly. Not accidentally authorities preferred to form separate mekhanizatorsky crews of women: in particular, in the North Caucasian region by the end of 1934 there were 11 tractor and 3 kombaynersky female crews [14]. However, despite all actions of the authorities, women heavier than men endured the material and household not device as they needed bigger personal hygiene and therefore left MTS.

Owing to influence of the specified factors the number of female machine operators was low. In 1932 in the North Caucasian region 4,833 collective farmers worked as "steering tractor drivers" [15]. But in 1934 in the Azovo-Chernomorsky and North Caucasian regions in total there were only 1,878 traktoristka (and 1,083 kombaynerka) [14, 16], i.e. is nearly 3 thousand less, than in 1932. Turnover of staff observed in both regions was fault to it. So, in June, 1934 the first secretary of the North Caucasian regional committee of the All-Union Communist Party (bolsheviks) E.G. Evdokimov reported that 1,500 female-traktoristok (from total number of 7,264 cadets) were prepared for a spring sowing campaign in the region [17]. But in December, 1934 the member of regional committee Shatsky claimed that in the region there are 618 female-traktoristok [14]. By comparison of data of Evdokimov and Shatsky there is a natural question: where did at least 800 of 1,500 prepared traktoristka get to? Obviously, part of them did not begin to work in the specialty at all, and a part left the MTS.

The number of female machine operators increased only in the second half of the 1930th, especially by the end of decade: at this time the authorities intensified the efforts in the matter, having launched a large-scale campaign "women - on the tractor!". By the end of the 1930th the danger of the approaching war became the main motive of involvement of women to the sphere of mechanization (though did not lose influence and remaining, let and in smaller sizes, turnover of staff). Therefore in the Soviet central and regional press there was a set of articles calling women to seize the machine operator's profession that in case of war to replace on tractors and combines of the fathers, husbands, brothers [18]. Female machine operators P. Angelina, P. Kovardak and also their less famous girlfriends famous all over the country by profession (in particular, traktoristka of the Ordzhonikidzevsky Region of Bazeleva, Belozerova, Borina, Volobuyeva, Kirichenko, etc.) performed with the same appeals [19].

As a result a little the specific weight of the women who were trained to professions of the tractor driver, combine operator, foreman of mekhanizatorsky crews increased. So, by the beginning of 1940 at stationary schools of preparation of mekhanizatorsky shots of the Rostov region 294 women (34% to the total number of pupils), foremen of tractor groups - 29 women (17%), mechanics of machine and tractor workshops - 14 women (8%), and on courses of tractor drivers at MTS - 951 women (32%) studied [20]. These changes were striking, especially if to remember that in 1933 in the North Caucasian region on courses of machine operators of the woman only 3% of cadets made.

Efforts of the authorities and female machine operators bore certain fruits. If in the USSR by the end of 1935 there were 19 thousand female machine operators, then in 1938 - 57.5 thousand, in 1940 - 64 thousand (apart from the women working on combines and hook-on tools which in the middle of 1939 there were 25 thousand) [21]. By 1939 in the Ordzhonikidzevsky region where, according to that time, "collective-farm girls willingly take the wheel of the tractor", 600 collective farmers "became good tractor drivers" [22].

However and in the second half of the 1930th the listed above reasons interfering involvement and fixing of women in the sphere of mechanization remained. The local management enough cool treated training and employment of female machine operators, not without the bases expecting that all of them equally will leave production soon. Even in February, 1941 the press recognized that "the situation with preparation of female mekhanizatorsky shots" especially badly is [23]. Extremely slowly the situation in the sphere of material and household providing machine operators improved [24]. Also the attitude towards women of the Soviet legislation which still did not see special differences between machine operators of different floors did not exchange. Rather brightly about it the resolution SNK USSR and Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (bolsheviks) "Performance standards and compensation of tractor drivers in machine and tractor stations" of March 8, 1939 where performance standards were not differentiated on gender sign [25] confirmed.

As a result the high fluidity of female mekhanizatorsky shots remained and in the late thirties. So, to spring of 1939. Troitsk MTS of Krasnodar Krai "lost" 23 of 28 trained female machine operators [26]. Quite often women, having ended courses of machine operators, just did not go to work.

Countrywide the specific weight of women as a part of machine operators by the end of the 1930th remained low. Even in 1940, "when vigorous measures were taken for involvement of women in MTS", their specific weight as a part of tractor drivers and combine operators did not exceed 8%, assistants to combine operators - 17%, mechanics - 2% [7, 27]. Several tens of thousands of female machine operators were only a small drop among "over one and a half million tractor drivers, combine operators" who were by the beginning of 1941 in the USSR [28].

Summarizing the above, it is possible to note that in the 1930th the soviet leadership (including local authorities on Don, Kuban and Stavropol Territory) sought to involve the greatest possible number of female collective farmers in the list of machine operators, pursuing first of all the aims of rational use of human resources of the collectivized village and increase in defense capability of the country. Efforts of the authorities brought certain results, having allowed to increase many times by the end of the considered decade the number of the women occupied in the sphere of mechanization of agrarian production. In general, however, despite enthusiasm of many young collective farmers who were persistently seeking to receive the machine operator's profession, the Soviet village was not ready to the accelerated, quite often radical and large-scale reorganization of gender roles in agriculture. Expansion of ranks of female machine operators was interfered by a number of factors: critical attitude of the local management to the idea of involvement of women to the sphere of mechanization (generated, on the one hand, by the traditional, patriarchal relation to gender distribution of duties in agriculture, and with another - the practical calculation showing that the woman less man can sustain burdens of a profession of the machine operator); considerable physical activities that far not in the best way affected health and a physical condition of female machine operators (and in the long-term - a nation gene pool); unsatisfactory conditions of working and life, etc. Mostly the specified factors were not eliminated till the end of the 1930th that as appropriate affected also the number of female machine operators, and their labor activity.


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2. F.E. Malevich. Organization of female labor//Collectivist of 1931. No. 4. Page 7.
3. GARO, t. r-2373, op. 1, 20. l. 73.
4. In the same place, t. r-1390, op. 7, 2314, l. 62 - 63.
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6. GANI SK, t. 1, op. 1, 36, l. 9.
7. Tsit. on: Yu.V. Arutyunyan. Machine operators of agriculture of the USSR in 1929 - 1957 (formation of shots of mass qualifications). M, 1960.
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11. The resolution of bureau of the North Caucasian regional committee of the All-Union Communist Party (bolsheviks) "About expansion of preparation of mekhanizatorsky shots" of December 24, 1933//the Hammer. 1934. On Jan. 2
12. R.T. Manning. Women of the Soviet village on the eve of World War II. 1935-1940//National history. 2001. No. 5. Page 96.
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18. The twenty first anniversary of the Workers' and Peasants' Red Army and Navy//Tractor driver and combine operator. 1939. No. 3. Page 7; Let's prepare hundred thousand traktoristka//the Tractor driver and the combine operator. 1939. No. 10. Page 5.
19. Speech of comrade Belozerovoy//Ordzhonikidzevskaya truth. 1937. 11 noyab.; Girls, on the tractor//the Ordzhonikidzevsky truth. 1939. Apr. 17; V. Gorbachev. To help the woman to master the tractor and the combine//the Tractor driver and the combine operator. 1939. No. 1. Page 14; L. Borina. To develop defensive work//the Tractor driver and the combine operator. 1939. No. 3. Page 10.
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21. G.'s cats, Knocks of M, G. Gorbatenko. The Soviet village by the third five-years period//Socialist agriculture. 1939. No. 4. Page 150; Yu.V. Arutyunyan. Decree. soch.; History of the Soviet peasantry: In the 5th TM, 1986. T. 2. Page 297; T. 3. Page 59.
22. Our edge (agriculture of Ordzhonikidzevsko-go of edge) / Under the editorship of V. Vorontsov and R. Sarents. Issue 1. Pyatigorsk, 1939. Page 31.
23. To be preparing for departure in the field//MTS. 1941. No. 2. Page 2.
24. GASK, t. r-2395, op. 2, 10, l. 6; GAKK, t. r-687, op. 1, 13, l. 14; Z. Kolovanov. Heartless attitude towards tractor drivers//Ordzhonikidzevskaya truth. 1937. Oct. 12; S. Goncharenko, etc. Why do not care for us?//Bolshevik. 1938. On Apr. 6
25. The resolution SNK USSR and Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (bolsheviks) "About performance standards and compensation of tractor drivers in machine and tractor stations" of March 8, 1939//Socialist agriculture. 1939. No. 4. Page 45.
26. Let's prepare hundred thousand traktoristka//the Tractor driver and the combine operator. 1939. No. 10. Page 4-5.
27. History of the Soviet peasantry. T. 2. Page 303.
28. MTS (Historical information)//MTS. 1941. No. 1. Page 20.

Came to edition On February 11, 2008

David Hicks
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