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Women’s Studies is the study of women and their role in society. Women’s Studies courses began appearing in the mid 1960’s as the academic counterpart to the women’s movement. Also known as Gender Studies or Feminist Studies, Women’s Studies programs cover many topics from the historical representation of women to the sociology of women today. The interdisciplinary nature of Women’s Studies offers challenges to the beginning researcher. This guide will introduce some helpful resources to get you started.
The field of Women’s Studies covers the representation of women in diverse subjects like history, economics, politics, literature, health, philosophy, and religion. Class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation differences among women further broaden possible research scopes. The variety and breadth of information on this topic can be overwhelming. A good place to begin looking for a general overview of women’s studies would be a subject search for resources. Possible subject headings for research include: Women’s studies—Handbooks, manuals, etc.; Women’s studies—Information services; Women’s studies—Library resources; or Women’s studies—Research. Corresponding Library of Congress classification numbers are HQ 1180 to HQ 1190 or Dewey Decimal Classification number 305.
Here are two examples of titles that correspond to the subject headings listed above:
- Westbrook, Lynn. Interdisciplinary information seeking in women’s studies. Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland, c1999. This book contains bibliographical and resource information for the interdisciplinary aspects of Women’s Studies research.
- W.I.S.H : the international handbook of women’s studies. New York ; London : Harvester Wheatsheaf, c1993. This is a directory of national and international Women’s Studies organizations.
Other print resources include examples of instrumental titles in the field of Women’s Studies. Three commonly cited sources are:
- The feminine mystique by Betty Friedan. Published in 1963, this book chronicles the depression experienced by women in the United States after World War II. Forced to leave their wartime “Rosie the Riveter” jobs, women were expected to return to their pre-war housewife roles. Friedan’s book contributed to the passion of the women’s movement.
- The second sex by Simone de Beauvoir. Published in 1949, this French feminist’s work was soon translated into English. The observations and philosophies it contains make it a staple of introductory Women’s Studies courses.
- Sexual politics by Kate Millet. Originally published in 1968, this book combines elements of the political, historical and social shaping of gender role. Millet drew on de Beauvoir’s work to produce this classic in Women’s Studies introductory courses.
Popular magazines related to Women’s Studies:
- Ms. magazine Ms. features feminist issues and concerns on a global basis. Also includes feminist fiction and poetry.
- Off our backs A popular women’s news journal that offers a feminist viewpoint.
Scholarly journals in this field include:
- Feminist Studies This journal contains research, essays, poetry and book reviews. Covers facets of the social sciences as they relate to Women’s Studies.
- Signs: journal of women in culture and society Signs contains feminist theories and relates them to women’s lives today.
- Women’s Studies Quarterly Contains essays on feminist theory and scholarship.
Selected Women and Gender Resources on the World Wide Web http://www.library.wisc.edu/libraries/WomensStudies/ This site is produced by the Women’s Studies Librarian’s Office at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. It is divided into three sections: Publications from the Women’s Studies Librarian’s Office; Guides to resources on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus; and Links to other resources in Women’s Studies. This collection of resources is thorough and easy to follow.
Women’s Studies/Women’s Issues Resource Sites http://www-unix.umbc.edu/~korenman/wmst/links.html Joan Korenman at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County has arranged an annotated list of more than 400 women’s and gender related sites. The list has been divided into the following topics: Activism; Arts and Humanities (including History); Business/Work; Comprehensive, Multi-Disciplinary Sites; Girls and Young Women; Health; Higher Education; International; Miscellaneous; Net Info; Periodicals; Religion/Spirituality; Science/Technology; Sexuality; Women of Color; Women’s Studies Programs &Research Centers. The last topic has a list of more than 450 women’s studies programs and research centers from around the world. The site is comprehensive, well organized and highly informative.
Women’s Studies Database http://www.mith2.umd.edu/WomensStudies/ This site is another production of the University of Maryland. Topics included in the site are: Conferences; Announcements; Bibliographies; Calls for Papers; Computing; Employment; Government; Syllabi; Film Reviews; Gender Issues; Other Web Sites; Program Support; Reading Room; and Reference Room. The links, unfortunately, are not annotated. However, the divisions are logical and the site is well-designed.
WSSLINKS(Women’s Studies Section Links)Women and Gender Studies Web Sites http://libraries.mit.edu/humanities/WomensStudies/wscd.html This site was developed by a committee from the Association of College and Research Libraries. It is divided into the following topics: Comprehensive Sites; Directories and Search Engines; Discussion Lists; Diversity Resources; Media; Libraries, Archives, Library Schools, and Pathfinders; Reference Sources; Women-Focused Internet Help. Each topic is covered and maintained by a member of the ACRL WSS Committee. It is highly selective, and each link is accompanied by brief annotative remarks.
Women’s Studies http://dir.yahoo.com/social_science/Women_s_studies/ This page in the Yahoo subject directory can be reached by following this path: Home>> Social Studies>> Women’s studies. The section on Women’s Studies is divided into the following categories: Bibliographies; Campus Women’s Centers; Education; Events; Feminism; Feminist Pedagogy; Feminist Theology; Gender Studies; History; Institutes; Journals; Libraries; Literature; Web Directories; Women’s Resources; Usenet. No attempt is made to evaluate site content, but it is a good place to find numerous sites related to Women’s Studies.
National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) http://www.nwsa.org/ University of Maryland, 7100 Baltimore Avenue, Suite 500, College Park, MD 20740 Phone: (301) 403-0525, Fax: (301) 403-4137. This organization promotes feminist pedagogy at all educational levels. Their website contains information on their organization, their annual conference, their publications and on membership in NWSA.
National Organization for Women (NOW) http://www.now.org/ A feminist activist organization committed to championing all women in an effort to achieve societal equality. Issues related to equal rights, reproductive freedom, racism, sexual abuse are among those addressed by NOW’s members.
This pathfinder created by Jen Engleson
You may also wish to see IPL Gender &Sexuality Issues Resources (/ref/RR/static/soc50.00.00.html)