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Studies in Women and Gender: Focused Searching

Women's Studies resource guide.

In-Depth Research

Once you have a topic, it's a good idea to brainstorm keywords to put into the LibrarySearch box. Below are some sample searches that explore how to generate keywords.

Other LibGuides

As Gender and Women's Studies are highly interdisciplinary, other LibGuides covering the following areas of study may be helpful: 2SLGBTQ+/LGBT/Queer Studies, Indigenous Studies and DecolonizationHistory, Statistics

Primary Source Databases

Example - Indigenous Masculinity

When searching for Indigenous-related resources, it's helpful to include descriptions of Indigenous identity within brackets. Note that the term "Indian" should be used when searching for historical materials, or to find American resources as the term "American Indian" is common. To find masculinity, masculine, and masculinities, use masculine* - the * allows the word to end in multiple ways.

(Indigenous OR "First Nation" OR native OR aboriginal OR Metis) masculin*

(Indigenous OR "First Nation" OR native OR aboriginal OR Metis) masculin* two-spirit

(Indigenous OR "First Nation" OR native OR aboriginal OR Metis) masculin* indigiqueer

Example - Role of Women in WWII

The role of women in WWII is a very large topic, so it's helpful to narrow down you searches. Think about the following:

  • Geography (ex. Canada, Europe)
  • What does "labour" include - paid employment (i.e. factories)? labour at home (i.e. rationing, childcare)? volunteering? military service? general war effort?
  • Are you looking for the experiences of a specific group of women? (i.e. young women, Indigenous women)

These are examples of narrower searches:

(WWII OR "World War II") (women AND "military service" OR servicewomen) Canada

(WWII OR "World War II") (women OR girls OR female) factory (work OR employment) 

(WWII OR "World War II") WWII (women OR girls OR female) homefront

Example - Emotional Labour

A general search for women ("emotional labour" OR "emotional labor") considers the topic in a variety of settings. Narrow this search down by thinking about where emotional labour is performed. For example, you might add in search terms such as: relationships, mothering, family, social work, customer service, or sex work. 

women ("emotional labour" OR "emotional labor") family

women ("emotional labour" OR "emotional labor") "sex work"

women ("emotional labour" OR "emotional labor") "social work"

Example - Harassment of Women

Harassment and women is a very broad topic, and it's helpful to narrow your search. Try a search for women harassment to view examples of how academics narrow down this topic and/or consider the following questions:

  • Geography (ex. Canada, online, street)
  • Industry (ex. customer service, business, helping professions, politics, military, university)
  • Type (ex. verbal? sexual? doxxing)
  • Time period (ex. present, historical
  • Specific group of women? Trans women? Young women? Racialized women?
  • Underlying issues (ex. sexism, misogyny, racism, transphobia) 

These are examples of more narrow searches:

(women OR girls) "street harassment"

(women OR girls) "street harassment" racism

(women OR girls OR female) harassment "customer service"

(women OR female) politicians Canada (digital OR online) harassment

transphobia harassment (transgender women OR trans women)


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