Canadian Women's Perspectives On Disability, Underemployment and Health

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 8:30 AM
Room: 302
Oral Presentation
Susan S. LEE , Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Disabled women are underrepresented in the Canadian workforce due to unemployment or underemployment. Some research has focused on unemployment among disabled persons but few researchers have investigated health and underemployment among disabled women. My research addresses this gap by exploring how women with physical impairments understand and address health experiences resulting from underemployment. In this paper, I review the two theoretical frameworks that guided my analytic approach—the social model of disability and feminist disability research—and present a critical interpretive textual analysis of 10 interviews I conducted with underemployed disabled women about their experiences of disability, underemployment, and health in a Canadian context. These narratives illustrate experiences of underemployment including marginalized identities, lost opportunities, limited income, and wasted energy, as well as the negative impact on physical, mental, emotional, and social dimensions of health. They also explain how disabled women can act as change agents to realize their goals for paid employment, fulfilling careers and self-actualization.