Research paper topics for gender and women’s studies issues

Portrait of Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Cdr. Maurice Constant, USNR photographer)

Portrait of Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Cdr. Maurice Constant, USNR photographer)

The field of gender and women’s studies covers a wide range of possible research paper topics. Unless your professor defines the direction for your paper, your first challenge will be to decide on how to focus your topic. Here are a few tips and ideas to get you started on your women’s studies research paper.

Start at Questia

A good place to start narrowing your scope is at Questia, the Internet’s largest online library. At Questia you’ll find millions of full-text books and articles. All of the resources at Questia are the kind of authentic research and writing that your professors like to see as sources for your papers. Every source is rock-solid information that you can use. What’s more, Questia’s research tutorials will help you to plan, organize, cite and write your paper.

For example, on Questia you browse the library by topic. Start with Sociology and Anthropology then move into Gender, then Women. You’ll be led to a host of resources including the book, Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Anthology, by Roberta Rosenberg.

In her book, Rosenberg begins by exploring the diversity of approaches to women’s issues. “The aim of this collection of essays, therefore, is to demonstrate the great diversity of thinking present in women’s studies scholarship, a complexity of thought that can balance difference without becoming completely relativistic—not an easy task,” Rosenberg said.

Women’s History

Women’s history month is in March. Although it has come and gone for this year, highlights of the celebration are archived at the Library of Congress National Archives. Visit the Women’s History Month website where you’ll find exhibits in text, images, audio, and video.

March 3, 2013 marked the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote. Achieving voting rights was a long, hard fight that was won through the efforts of many heroic women. Learn about their fight and what has happened in the years since the passage of the 19th Amendment on the Pinterest board, A National Policy of Nagging.

Look over the pins and you’ll learn about women like Frances Perkins. “Nominated as the first Woman Cabinet member, 80 years ago today, President Roosevelt nominated Frances Perkins of New York to be Secretary of Labor. A lifelong labor reformer, she rose to prominence following the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. She was confirmed as Secretary of Labor, and was the longest-serving Labor secretary, serving for 12 years.”

Economics of oppression

A magazine that focuses on economics may not seem to be an ideal place to do research on women’s issues. Yet, a review of topics in the women’s issues section of The Economist illustrates how often issues related to women’s health, safety and working conditions are intertwined with political and economic policy.

An example of the breadth of coverage can be found in a May 29, 2013 blog post by blogger Prospero titled, “Women in the Art World: An improving picture.”

Noting that the prices for the most expensive male postwar artists outpace the prices paid for work by women to the tune of $10.7 million Prospero added, “Yet the prospects for women appear to be slowly improving. Of the top-ten men, only two are living, whereas among the top-ten women, five are still working.”

Women’s Studies Resources

Other sites with a multitude of valuable resources on issues related to women’s studies include:

  • Women’s History Month for Teachers: A collection of resources from The Library of Congress, National Archives, National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Gallery of Art.
  • National Organization for Women [now.org]: The largest organization of feminist activists in the United States.
  • National Women’s Studies Association [nwsa.org]: Promoting and supporting the production and dissemination of knowledge about women and gender through teaching, learning, research and service in academic and other settings.
  • American Association of University Women [aauw.org]: A national grassroots organization to improve the lives of millions of women and their families.
  • Women’s Policy, Inc. [womenspolicy.org]: Links to women in Congress and to information on women’s issues in Congress.
  • U.S. Dept. of State Office of Global Women’s Issues [www.state.gov/s/gwi/]: The Office works to promote stability, peace, and development by empowering women politically, socially, and economically around the world.

Explore women’s topics on Questia where you can learn more about issues related to gender and equality.

What women’s studies topic interests you? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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