Read and summarize

Now it's time to read and evaluate each of the articles you found in your research. 

If you find an article isn't relevant or helpful, you can exclude it from your review. However, make sure that you don't exclude an article just because its findings don't match with other articles. Remember that part of a literature review is to point out inconsistencies! 

Take notes as you read! 

Make note of common themes you encounter in your readings. (These themes might become sub-headings in your literature review.) You might even want to create an annotated bibliography. You won't turn this in, but it will serve as a useful summary for you when you go to write the actual review. 


A useful tool for writing literature reviews is to create a synthesis matrix. Each row represents a common theme or point; each column represents an article you read. 

The table below is a sample matrix created by Becky Menendez, who adapted it from North Carolina State University.

Screenshot of a synthesis matrix, accessible version below

Things to note:

  • The authors' names are listed across the top row
  • The subtopics are listed across the left-most column
  • Include some quotations, but for the most part, paraphrase or summarize
  • Include page numbers for direct quotations in case you need to refer back to them
  Cornelson Stewart Bruley Scott
Alteration of women's roles because of WWII
  • Women accredited the WASP program for opening new doors, challenging stereotypes, and proving that women were as capable as men (p. 113)
  • Women could compete with men as equals in the sky because of their exemplary performance (p. 116)
  • WASP created opportunities for women that had never previously existed (p. 112)
  • Women's success at flying aircrafts "marked a pivotal step towards breaking the existing gender barrier" (p. 112)
  • WAAC (Women's Army Auxiliary Corp) was 1st chance for women to serve in army, given full army status in 1943 as WAC (p. 28)
  • Needs of the war were so great that women's traditional social roles were ignored (p. 30)
  • Military women paid well for the time period and given benefits if they became pregnant (p. 32)
  • The 1940's brought more opportunities to women than ever before (p. 26)
  • Women given equal opportunities (p. 223)
  • Women joined workforce as a break from the ordinary to help the war (p. 220)
  • Unconscious decision to cross into male-dominated roles (p. 221)
  • Seized these new opportunities to bring about change (p. 230)
  • Women born in the 1920's found new doors open to them where they once would have encountered brick walls (p. 526)
  • Even women not directly involved in the war were changing mentally by being challenged to expand their horizons because of the changing world around them (p. 562)
  • War also brought intellectual expansion to many people (p. 557)
Hardships and oppositions women faced
  • "From the outset male pilots resented women's presence in a traditionally male military setting" (p. 1113-4)
  • "The WASP were routinely assigned inferior planes that were later found to have been improperly maintained" (p. 114)
  • discrimination against WASP at every level of military service, women were only paid 2/3 of what men were for doing identical tasks
  • "In the belief that women were emotionally and physically fragile, the military questioned women's capabilities to fly an aircraft" (p. 114-5), regardless of their training or aptitude
  • WASP's not granted veteran status until 1979 (p. 115)
  • Women in the military given extensive physical and mental tests, but still discriminated against, ridiculed, and considered inferior to men (p. 29)
  • Women given unskilled labor positions by government because only seen as temporary workers, therefore no reason to train them (p. 221-2)
  • Women given less significant work and viewed as less intelligent and physically able (p. 224)
  • "The Church-Bliss diary reveals how dilution arrangements…ensured that women working in male preserves were prevented from achieving any sort of equality" (p. 230)
  • more traditionally male jobs resisted the integration of women workers, while other industries were less resistant...but in most all cases women were considered temporary workers (p. 221)
  • Equal pay rarely given to women, even though women did the same work (p. 221)
  • Women occasionally found their way to positions of importance, but were always treated as inferior (p. 226-8)
  • After the war, women were the first to be let go because of their temporary status (p. 230)
  • Women in the workforce also faced discrimination from labor unions (p. 226)
Opposition: WWII did NOT effect women  
  • Women put in untraditional roles during/because of the war, but back to previous subservient roles after the war (p. 35)
  • Women were not affected because they still remained in subordinate positions after the war (p. 217)