In the annals of Industrialization, the Soviet experience is unique in its whirlwind rapidity. Even more striking was the critical role of women: in no country of the world did women come to constitute such a significant part of the working class in so short a time. They composed a larger percentage of the working class, filled an unprecedented share of jobs in heavy industry, and served as the first targeted 'reserve' for Soviet labour policy and recruitment. As women undercut the strict hierarchies of skill and gender within the factories, they forced male workers to re-examine their ideas about 'masculine' and 'feminine' work, and women's role in the work place. Using new Russian archival materials, Women at the Gates is the first social history of Soviet women workers in the 1930s.

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