At the 3rd International Gender Research Conference, Oxana Fais addressed a workshop with the most amusing presentation summarizing results of survey with tar-get population of 100 Italians working in Moscow. The focus of survey was to learn their opinion about Russian women. Respondents were subdivided into three groups. The first group encircled upper class representatives: embassy officials of high rank and senior executives of Italian companies Moscow offices. In the second group mid-level managers were represented. Finally, Italian workers, clerks and other bottom-line employees formed the third group.
The survey has revealed that Italians’ general attitude towards aboriginal population of the country they work in is explicitly negative. Their feelings are of economic missionaries to a barbaric nation. However, when it comes to Russian women, their attitudes are surprisingly positive on the most part.
"Though Russian personnel are no good, Russian women are marvelous!" is the most generic answer. What is the reason?
First of all, they are amazed by high level of education and professional training: 90% of Russian female employees of Italian companies have higher education. This fact strongly impresses foreign bosses. Oxana Fais drawed an example from the last-year exhibition of Italian products: head of one Italian company (of twelve represented) was very proud of the fact of being the only one there with university education until someone disclosed upon him the fact that the lady who was cleaning the exhibition space right at that moment had academic degree in addition to her university diploma.
Almost every respondent felt uncomfortable about sheer disharmony between his general perception of Russia as underdeveloped, transition market country with barbaric culture and the fact that native employees were better educated and informed than he was.
The second feature of Russian female employees mentioned by practically every respondent of the two higher groups was incredible combination of innate diligence and durability. Moreover, when negotiating their job contracts, they are surprisingly un-pretentious about labor reimbursement and often sign up to work for laughable compensation in comparison to what their foreign colleagues receive for performing exactly the same functions. For this reason, foreign managers prefer to hire women, rather then men, whereas the opposite is practiced almost everywhere in the world.
Along with their professional merits, Italian men apprised a number of personal qualities characterizing Russian women. Respondents belonging to higher groups seem to have avoided any contacts with local population (except their employees). For this reason, their paradigm of Russian women was based on Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Chekhov. However, many Italian bosses seem disappointed by what happened whenever they tried to transpose fine-art synthetic images onto corporeal women. Somehow, these "lovely, touching, unselfish creatures" would always turn out to be somewhat too energetic, purposeful, self-standing, knowing what they want and how it can be achieved.
The most amusing descriptions of us, however, are the third group’s inventions, for it is lower level personnel who have had actual opportunity to cognize Russian women as they are. In addition, unlike higher groups, their contacts with Russian women spanned practically all ages and occupations: from technical and nursing schools’ students through university students and business professionals, and back to unemployed and homeless. Most frequently mentioned merits include sincerity, compassion, and openness. The latter, to most Italian respondents’ opinion, is unique: their girlfriends at home used to be reluctant to let them know what was going on inside them and would never allow them to disclose their burdens onto them and take them in as their own.
Negative characteristics of Moscow women included their harshness, cruelty, greed and trickiness. Whereas these negative features are the more visible the younger a lady is, girls of sixteen up to twenty are highly praised for being trustful and unprotected. In all three groups, respondents could not help comment that Russian women are "enigmatic". However, practically nobody could articulately explain what they meant to say. Few explanations, nevertheless, were attempted in the third group, so we can gather that the "enigma" is why Moscow women are so unpredictable in their behavior and emotionally unstable. Other mentioned features include Russian women’s waywardness and non-compliance with traditional social, behavioral and sexual standards as making their status inferior to men’s status.
Finally, representatives of all three groups agreed that whatever good features might be associated with Russian nation had certainly been introduced into it by women. Italian men believe that it is Russian women who sustain the nation’s zest for economic and social development, as they are the most active, energetic and special part of the nation.