Women and Leadership

Nobel Laureate and Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee, via Barnard College

This page highlights key resources for conducting effective research for Women in Leadership.

If you need assistance identifying additional resources, search terms or strategies, please schedule a research consultation.

For additional resources in specific fields such as history, political science and sociology, see our full list of research guides.

Heather McKee Hurwitz

Personal Librarian 
Jennie Correia
Social Sciences Librarian
103 LeFrak Center, Barnard Hall

Background Information
Journal Articles
Other Primary Sources
Writing & Citing

Finding Biographical and Other Background Information

Consult reference sources to get an overview of a topic, an introduction to a theory, definitions to discipline-specific terms, biographical information, and more.

  • African American Biographical Database contains biographies and narratives of thousands of African Americans, spanning the years 1790-1950. These biographical sketches have been assembled from biographical dictionaries, yearbooks, directories, histories, personal accounts, and other published sources.  The full text of almost 300 rare books - written and edited in most cases by black people - is displayed and searchable in page images, intact with images and illustrations. This collection contains extended narratives of African American activists, business people, former slaves, performing artists, educators, lawyers, physicians, writers, church leaders, homemakers, church and missionary leaders, government workers, athletes, farmers, scientists, factory workers, and more--both the famous and the everyday person – living and working in the United States from 1790 to 1950. The content reproduces, in digital format, the Black Biographical Dictionaries 1790-1950 created by Randall K. Burkett, Nancy Hall Burkett, and Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

  • The Almanac of American Politics provides a brief political history of each state and congressional district in the U.S., with profiles of each of the incumbent Governors, Senators and Representatives.

  • CQ Politics in America profiles members of Congress, including analysis of personalities, political styles, legislative agendas, political ambitions, and reputations of members at home and on Capitol Hill. Also includes detailed state and district information plus information and data on campaign finance, partisan caucuses, standing committees, and other member facts.

  • Gale Biography in Context is a comprehensive database of biographical information on over 320,000 people from throughout history, around the world, and across all disciplines and subject areas. It combines nearly 415,000 biographies from more than 780 volumes of over 130 sources such as Contemporary Authors, Encyclopedia of World Biography, Newsmakers, Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, Contemporary Musicians, Historic World Leaders, Notable Twentieth-Century Scientists, Contemporary Black Biography, Religious Leaders of America, International Dictionary of Art and Artists, Writers Directory, and many more, with over 2.5 million full-text articles from 250 magazines.

  • Gender and Women's Leadership: A Reference Handbook provides overview of women's participation as leaders in a wide variety of areas. Broad areas include government/public policy, social movements, business, religion, academia, health/medicine, media, sports, and the arts; but the sub-topics for each area are extensive. The references and further readings might lead you to other relevant sources. 
  • Marquis Who's Who is a searchable online database featuring comprehensive profiles on over 1.4 million of the most accomplished individuals from all fields of endeavor, including government, business, science and technology, the arts, entertainment, and sports. Search by name, gender, occupation, geography, hobbies and interests, religion and much more.
  • Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary - all five volumes are available from the Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000 database.
  • Oxford African American Studies Center offers searchable full text of the reference sources African American National Biography, Africana, Black Women in America, and Encyclopedia of African American History.

Finding Books - Catalogs

CLIO is the online catalog of the Columbia University Libraries, including Barnard Library, but excluding Teachers College and some information from the Law Library. Search the Catalog for book and media materials.

Catalog search tips:

If you know exactly what book (journal, video, etc.) you are looking for, you can search by Title, Author, ISBN, etc.

To find items about a specific topic, first try a keyword search in All Fields.

  • Use "quotation marks" to search for an exact phrase: "international women's day".

  • Use * for truncation (to find variant spellings and endings of a word): wom*n will find woman, women, womyn; feminis* will find feminism, feminist, feminists, etc.

  • For more complex search, use AND and OR:

    • AND finds records which have all the search terms you entered.

    • OR finds records which have one of the search terms you entered, as well as records which have more than one of the terms. OR finds MORE.

    • For more help with using AND and OR, check our guide to advanced/Boolean keyword searching.

  • Use parentheses to group terms:  (wom*n OR gender) AND leader* 

Subject headings: 

  • If you find a book that's relevant, look at its subject headings in CLIO and click through to find more related works - 
  • To find books about particular people, look for subject headings that include their name. 

Find books and other materials in other libraries:

Finding Scholarly Journal Articles

There are hundreds of databases available through CLIO. You can use the Articles section in CLIO to search multiple databases simultaneously, including many listed below.

For off-campus access to library online resources, remember to follow the links from CLIO or this research guide. You can also use the proxy bookmarklet.

Database search tips:

  • The general search tips for CLIO also apply to the article databases.
  • If you find an article or a book that is relevant, the bibliography/works cited page can be a useful road map to other relevant literature that was previously published.  
  • If you find an article or a book that is relevant, you can use Google Scholar and some other databases to find out whether it was cited by other scholars after it was published. Search for the title of an article/monograph and search and click on "Cited by" to generate a list of publications that have referenced that source.
  • In most databases, you can narrow your results to scholarly publications only. Look for "limit to ... scholarly publications/peer-reviewed/refereed publications only" or similar language. This will help you find articles from journals that have gone through a rigorous peer review process.  

Recommended Scholarly Databases & Journals:

  • America: History and Life provides access to the scholarly literature on the history and culture of the United States and Canada, from prehistory to the present. The database indexes journals from 1964 to present and includes citations and links to book and media reviews.
  • Contemporary Women's Issues is a mostly full-text resource for information about women in over 190 countries. It's particularly useful for material relating to current topics in the social sciences, such as political science, psychology, and reproductive rights, as well as contemporary cultural studies. The database includes book reviews, research reports, and fact sheets, in addition to journals and magazines. Try searching on the subject term "activism".
  • Gender Studies Database features research in women's studies, men's studies, gender studies, and sexuality studies.  Source documents include professional journals, conference papers, books, book chapters, government reports, discussion and working papers, and theses & dissertations.
  • GenderWatch includes full text from contemporary scholarly journals, magazines, newspapers, newsletters, regional publications, books, booklets and pamphlets, conference proceedings, and government, NGO and special reports.
  • Google Scholar is very useful for seeing if a book, article, etc. has been cited by other scholars. Search on the title, and then follow the "Cited by ..." link. 
  • International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (IBSS) contains core social sciences and related materials from over 100 countries in more than 90 languages (including over 2600 journals and books, book reviews, and book chapters).
  • JSTOR provides the full text of back issues from core scholarly journals in sociology and other fields in the humanities and social sciences from the earliest issues to within a few years of current publication. Please note that, generally, this database does not include issues published in the last few years. You can search just the sociology journals in JSTOR by using the Advanced Search "NARROW BY DISCIPLINE AND/OR JOURNAL" feature.
  • SocINDEX with Full Text provides solid coverage of scholarly research in sociology and closely related areas of study, including references to scholarly journals, books, monographs, conference papers, and other content sources.
  • Sociological Abstracts is often the best bet when starting a search for scholarly sociological research. This core database covers sociology and related disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences, including research focused in social work, human services, and related areas. The database provides citations from 1963 to the present and includes references to journal articles, book reviews, book abstracts, book chapters, dissertations, and conference papers.
  • Worldwide Political Science Abstracts is good place to start looking for scholarly political science journal articles. The database is devoted to North American and international politics.

Finding News

Individual News Sources

Use the CLIO catalog to find out if we subscribe to a specific newspaper/magazine/etc. by searching the Journal Title

Selected sources for long-form journalism and outlets that frequently publish profiles of individuals:

Print News Databases

You can search multiple news sources at once using newspaper & magazine databases, including the following:

  • AllAfrica.com posts over 700 stories daily in English and French and offers a diversity of multi-lingual streaming programming as well as a 400,000-article searchable archive (which includes the archive of Africa News Service dating from 1997). Fully accessible ONLY on campus.
  • Alt-Press Watch provides full text articles from over 210 alternative and press publications, including newspapers, magazines and journals.
  • The Articles search in CLIO includes many newspapers and magazines. Newspaper articles are excluded from results by default - to include these in your results, click the X next to Not Content Type: Newspaper Article. 
  • Ethnic newsWatch provides full text articles from newspapers and periodicals published by the ethnic, minority and native press in the U.S. back to 1960.
  • Latin American Newsstand provides full-text information in Spanish and Portuguese from 37 newspapers from Puerto Rico and 11 Latin American countries, including Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil. 
  • LexisNexis Academic contains access to hundreds of information sources including the full text of newspapers, magazines, wire services, newsletters, journals, and broadcast transcripts from around the world. In particular, look for "Profiles & Biographies" and "Interviews" in the advanced search options for an All News search. 
  • Mideastwire.com offers a daily email newsletter of concise, translated briefs covering some of the key political, cultural, economic and opinion pieces appearing via the print, radio and television media of the 22 Arab countries, Iran and the Arab Diaspora.
  • ProQuest Newspapers has articles from U.S. national newspapers, international English-language newspapers, and selected regional/state newspapers. Chronological coverage of individual newspapers varies. 

TV & Broadcast News Databases

  • LexisNexis Academic also provides broadcast transcripts.  Click on Search by Subject or Topic, then select Broadcast Transcripts.
  • Factiva provides radio & television transcripts. Enter rst=ttpb AND [your search term(s) here] in the search box to find them.
  • Television News Archive is a searchable archive of abstracts of news broadcasts from 1968 to present (ABC, CBS, NBC), 1995 to present (CNN), selected content from PBS and FOX News.
  • YouTube sometimes has local news clips. 

Finding Other Primary Sources 

  • The CLIO catalog can be used to find primary sources.
    • Try limiting by Publication Date for the time period you are studying.
    • Use the Subject (Genre) facets to find particular kinds of sources, such as
      • correspondence
      • diaries
      • documentary
      • interviews
      • memoirs
      • narratives
      • photos
      • oratory
      • speeches
      • sources
  • America: History and Life includes some interviews, letters, speeches, and other primary sources in addition to scholarly publications - look for "document type".
  • American Rhetoric Speechbank contains over 5000 full text, audio and/or video versions of public speeches, sermons, legal proceedings, lectures, debates, interviews, and other recorded media events. 
  • Black Thought and Culture contains 1,303 sources with 1,210 authors, covering the non-fiction published works of leading African Americans. The database includes interviews, journal articles, speeches, essays, pamphlets, letters and other material. 
  • C-SPAN's people search lets you identify video and transcripts of individuals speaking at events covered by C-SPAN (back to 1987).
  • Gifts of Speech: Women's Speeches from Around the World is dedicated to preserving and creating access to speeches by inspirational, influential and contemporary (up to 2010), women from around the world. Most of the speeches at Gifts of Speech have never been published in any paper-based format. Gifts of Speech acquired most of these speeches directly from the woman who gave the speech. 
  • ProQuest Congressional provides information produced by or pertaining to the United States Congress from 1789 to the present. Provides full text for many titles, generally from the early 1990's to the present. Includes bills, laws, legislative histories, committee prints, House and Senate documents and reports, the Congressional Record, Code of Federal Regulations, and Federal Register. Of particular interest to this course's assignment - this database containts the full text of Congressional hearings, 1824-present.
  • Vital Speeches of the Day and Vital Speeches International provide the full text of speeches from 1934 to the present.
  • Women and Social movements, International: 1840 to Present is an online archive of published and manuscript primary sources focusing on women's international activism since the mid-nineteenth century. The archive includes proceedings of women's international conferences, books, pamphlets, articles from newspapers and journals, as well as correspondence, diary entries, and memoirs. Also contains numerous online publications of contemporary Non-Governmental Organizations.
  • Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000  currently includes 122 document projects and archives with 4,900 documents and more than 168,000 pages of additional full-text documents, written by more than 2,600 primary authors. Examples of movements covered include abolitionism, anti-war movements, civil rights, and reproductive justice. It also includes the Women's Commission reports collection, an archive of the publications and documents of local, state, and federal Commissions on the Status of Women from 1963 to the present. You can also find all five volumes of Notable American Women.

  • Women's Liberation Movement Print Culture provides access to manifestos, speeches, essays, and other materials documenting various aspects of the Women's Movement in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. 

  • voxgov provides access to unfiltered original source news, media and information direct from all branches of the U.S. Federal Government, including speeches and remarks.

Writing and Citing

  • Barnard Library guides to citation management provides information about citation practices, style guides, and software programs you can use that help you keep track of your sources and create bibliographies.
  • The Chicago-Style Citation Quick Guide gives sample citations for the basics.
  • The Chicago Manual of Style has full details on citing primary & archival material in Chicago style. The library provides the full-text of the style guide in print and online. 
  • Cite Source presents visual information about how to cite various sources in a visual way, and they offer guidance on citing tricky sources. Check out the source help for Chicago style.​
  • The Craft of Research is an online book that can help guide you through the full research process.
  • Evaluating News Sources from University of Texas Libraries has a handy guide to different kinds of bias to be aware of, including commercial bias, temporal bias, visual bias, sensationalism, narrative bias, fairness bias, and expediency bias.
  • On Our Terms is an online, peer-reviewed, undergraduate journal of women and leadership. Produced under the auspices of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College, this publication features scholarship by undergraduates from across the globe seeking to enhance our generation’s discourse on the theme. On Our Terms is a journal created for students, by students. The goal is to provide a platform for student thought, debate, and voice through the publication of original academic articles and multimedia pieces.
  • Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) has lots of general and subject specific writing tips and techniques, along with research advice and detailed citation and formatting standards for Chicago style. They have a great sample paper written in Chicago author-date style, too.

Last updated April 11, 2017