Archive for January 5th, 2011

5th January
written by Danielle Lee-Muma

The Encyclopedia of Gender and Society is a sturdy, hardcover, two volume set that proposes to address the most significant and “commonly recognized aspects of social life” and have entries by “area experts” that will discuss them through a “gender lens” (2009). This book was edited and compiled by Jodi O’Brien, professor of Arts and Sciences and chair of the Department. of Anthropology and Sociology at Seattle University, whose research into sexuality, and transgendered inmates lends authority to this reference work. The encyclopedia is current and contains topics ranging from the straightforward, “Body image” to the controversial “Abortion,” and distressing “Female genital mutilation,” but some entries show a clear bias, with the entry on “Affirmative Action” referring to anyone who may disagree with the practice as “racist,” or “sexist” rather than considering alternate points of view (O’Brien 2009).
Gender and Society mostly achieves its purpose, with a broad scope on a large number of issues, as compared to other reference books in this field, Gender and Education, and Sex and Gender, both of which have a much narrower focus. This book has a broad focus and a clear index, divided into categories such as “Arts, Popular Culture and Sports,” “Body Image, Health, and Illness,” “Crime and Criminal Justice,” and then subdivided within longer entries for easy reference. These features, its international scope and its clear easy-to-read font make it an excellent starting point for gender studies research, but because of its bias, and lack of depth, academic libraries should seek out other books to focus on more specific areas in this field. This book would be extremely useful for undergraduate students unfamiliar with gender studies, but also useful for gender studies majors, graduate students and faculty who are starting fresh research and need direction. Recommended for academic libraries.


O’Brien, J. (2009). Encyclopedia of gender and society. Los Angeles: Sage. Vol. 1- 2.