THE SOVIET NURSE: Representation and Reality of Gender Roles

Fri, 04/21/2017 - 14:51..
Department of History
Liverpool John Moores University; Susan Grant

This paper examines the question of gender and women through analysing the contrasts between the representation and reality of the Soviet nurse. The comparison highlights the binary worlds inhabited by nurses, and by extension women, showing them to be both independent and dependent, maternal/feminine and militaristic, according to the social and political context. These binaries were fluid and overlapping, as nurses could easily perform the role of, for example, both compassionate caregiver and sniper. By assuming one or more of these roles women could take advantage of educational and professional opportunities to forge their own career path (although this more often than not medicine rather than nursing). This paper draws on published and archive material to first underline state attitudes to nurses and second, to examine how nurses navigated between the representation and reality of their profession.

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