Gender (In)Equality in the Political Power of Russian Regions




gender, elite, reproduction, gender order, social institution, Russian regions


The article focuses on the problem of gender (in)equality in the political elite of Russian regions. In the first part of the paper, we analyze the academic discussion on the gender profile of power. We review methodological approaches to the analysis of women's participation in politics in Russia and foreign countries. We conclude that in Russia, the formation of political elite at a regional level has not been completed. This is caused by continuing socio-political transformations in the society as well as a dynamic state of the power gender profile.

In the second part of the article, we represent results of our study on career trajectories and educational level of the political elite in ten Russian regions (Moscow and St. Petersburg, Leningrad, Kostroma, Kaliningrad, Novosibirsk and Rostov regions, the Republic of Dagestan, Khabarovsk and Stavropol regions). Based on biographical analysis (649 biographies of deputies) we identified the gender specificity of parliaments in studied territories of Russia. According to the data, although women are accepted in the structures of power, the political elite is reproduced on closed grounds. We found that the entry of women into a regional parliament is never accidental but continues their professional trajectory (administrative, party-line, economic). Thus, the women are involved into a sustainable horizontal movement from one elite position to another. We show that in the regions under consideration a professional political elite which includes female deputies has been forming.

Even when a relatively significant number of women (30% and more) get into the parliamentary elite, there is no open competition between candidates for deputies, and the gender profile of the Russian government does not radically change. Within the Russian political elite, the old gender order remains, which is reproduced according to the type of quasi-circulation (in D. Higley's terminology). At the same time, the political elite is actively professionalizing, intertwining with the administrative elite, and is enclosed to the influx of new people.

Author Biography

Natalya V. Kolesnik, Sociological Institute of FCTAS RAS

  • Sociological Institute of FCTAS RAS, Saint Petersburg, Russia
    • Cand. Sci. (Soc.), Academic Secretary