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Education and Employment

The major change in the position of Mongolian women is their nearly universal participation in all levels of the educational system and in the paid work force. In 1985 women made up 63 percent of the students in higher educational establishments and 58 percent of the students in specialized secondary schools. In the same year, they constituted 51 percent of all workers, up from nearly 46 percent in the 1979 census. By 1979 medicine and teaching were predominately female fields; women were 65 percent of all doctors and 63 percent of those working in education, art, and culture. Women made up 67 percent of the teachers in general schools and 33 percent of the teachers in higher educational establishments.
They constituted nearly 47 percent of agricultural workers and 46 percent of those in industry. Women's high level of enrollment in higher education reflected the female predominance in medicine, nursing, teaching, and professional child care. This echoed the pattern in the Soviet Union, where most physicians were women and where the social and the economic status of physicians was lower than it was in the United States or Western Europe.

The most highly skilled Mongolian scientists, engineers, military officers, and administrators had been trained in the Soviet Union. In 1989 no figures were available on the percentage of women among these elite professionals. Mongolian accounts of working women indicated that some women worked in such jobs as airline pilot, judge, and sculptor, and that women predominated in the less highly paid food processing, textile, and catering trades.

Mongolian women had legal equality, but once in the labor force they suffered the familiar double burden of housework and child care on top of a day's work for wages. This problem was recognized, and a series of studies begun by the Mongolian Academy of Sciences in 1978 found that the greatest source of strain on urban women was excessive hours spent in transit to and from work and shopping. There were too few buses or routes; retail and service outlets were not only scarce, but they were located too far from many residential areas and kept inconvenient hours. The proposed solutions, all indirect, included state provision of more buses; the opening of more service outlets, including food shops, restaurants, and carryouts; public laundries and dressmakers; and the expansion of nurseries, kindergartens, and extended-day elementary schools. The issues of female overrepresentation in the lower paying occupations and of the representation of women in the higher professional and administrative ranks in more than token numbers were not addressed (see Party Congress).

Last Update: 2010-12-07