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Women's and Gender Studies

Interdisciplinarity & Additional Resources

Women and Gender Studies draws on research from many different fields -- history, sociology, psychology, cultural studies, art, literature, economics, and more. This means that lots of kinds of resources might be helpful for your research!

If you are focusing specifically on a field related to WGS, you might also want to check out some of the guides for those areas specifically. You can find some of them listed on the left side of this guide, or you can check the list of library guides for more.

On this guide, I'll provide some basic information about these interdisciplinary resources and some information about searching for articles and books on women, feminism, and gender specifically.

This guide was originally created by Nancy Foasberg and is currently maintained by Leila Walker.

General Databases

You may find general resources like this especially helpful, since: 

  • They let you search across disciplines, finding materials that you might not have looked for elsewhere
  • You don't need to decide ahead of time whether your question is sociological or economic in nature (for instance). It might be both!

The resources listed here include material on many different subjects.

OneSearch -- Searching Broadly

When searching OneSearch, you are likely to retrieve a very large number of results, especially if you are searching for a broad topic of high general interest. This might mean that your search includes some irrelevant results, or that it's just overwhelming. In such a case, I would recommend:

  • Adding more search terms.
    • I can search for "women" and "prisons" and get a lot of results, but they cover many different issues related to this topic. If I add another term like "mental health," my results are much more likely to be in conversation with each other
  • Checking the subjects and titles for more words I can add to my search.
    • In the example above, one of the results mentions "trauma," which is a useful search term as well.
  • Take advantage of the limiters on the left of the search screen. You can limit by date, language, type of resource, and more.

General Databases

Subject Specific Databases

If your topic is a bit more specialized, it might make more sense to search more specialized resources. This has a few advantages:

  • You may find articles that were buried in the larger resources
  • Specialized databases often include subject-appropriate search tools
  • You might learn about things we don't have here, which you can access using Interlibrary Loan

Queer Studies

Sociology and Urban Studies


Literature and Culture


Subject Terms/ Subject Headings

Many library resources (especially OneSearch) use specific subject headings to describe their content. You can often find the content with regular keyword searching as well, but it is often helpful to be aware of subject headings, for two reasons:

  • They are consistent throughout the catalog ("Womanism," searched as a subject heading, should bring up all the books on womanism)
  • They are relatively predictable

The easiest way to find the best subject headings is usually to look at the subjects listed for the results of the works you've already found, but I'd like to provide some examples here. These examples are drawn from OneSearch; the catalogs may use different headings.

  • African American women
  • Feminism
  • Feminism and education
  • Gay and lesbian studies
  • Gender identity
  • Homosexuality
  • Identity (Philosophy)
  • Masculinity
  • People with disabilities -- Social conditions
  • Prostitution
  • Sex customs -- History
  • Sex differences (Psychology)
  • Sex discrimination
  • Sex role
  • Sexism
  • Sexism in language
  • Social institutions
  • Social justice -- United States
  • Transgender people
  • Transsexualism
  • Women -- Political activity
  • Women -- Social conditions
  • Women -- Social conditions -- United States
  • Women -- Violence against
  • Women prisoners
  • Women's studies

I'd like to point out the structure of these headings. A broad term like "Women" is further broken down into related topics ("Women--Political activity" is about political activity by women). In other cases, the terms may include an "and," as in "feminism and education." Note that where a specific country, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc. is mentioned, you can usually substitute another one.

These are Library of Congress subject headings, meaning that they are sanctioned by a large institution. The Library of Congress's terminology might not be the terms that you (or I!) would prefer. However, to find things in a database or catalog, it's often necessary to use the words designated for that system. So, stay critical of these headings, but you might need to use a heading that doesn't match up with the language you'd usually use to find the books classified under it.

Of course, since some of the subjects I've suggested are very broad, you may also want to consider adding additional terms to narrow your results, or to search more specifically within a heading..

There are some other kinds of words that are usually good for subject searching:

  • Names of authors or historical figures (for instance: Wells-Barnett, Ida B. or Wollstonecraft, Mary)
  • Philosophies or theories, such as existentialism or disability studies
  • Countries or areas of the world, like North America  or Japan