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Career success of disabled high-flyers

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posted on 28.10.2010, 11:21 authored by Sonali Laxmi Shah
The aim of this qualitative study is to identify what factors a group of professional disabled people perceived had influenced their career success, and how they define career success. The study is based on subjective accounts of thirty-one disabled highflyers: men and women from different social and ethnic backgrounds, with congenital or acquired physical impairments, and hold occupational positions in Social Class I or H of the Registrar General's classification of occupations. This work looks at the extent to which the disabled high-flyers perceived career choice and progression, childhood, education, disability, and personality to be significant to their career development and success, and how they define success. Using the data collected from semi-structured interviews, this research provides an indepth insight of the journey travelled, by each of the thirty-one disabled people, from childhood to achieving career success in adulthood. The study shows that oldstyle careers, operating in stable and supportive organisations are sometimes more beneficial to disabled people than some forms of new careers known as `boundaryless' and which require more flexibility and moving from place to place. It indicates the existence of the `glass ceiling' in many sectors of the economic market, showing it to cause disabled people to redirect their original career choice. The study also shows that individuals with congenital disabilities were often likely to follow more of a boundaryless approach of career progression in order to meet their initial career aspirations. It also found that, disability was not only sometimes a causal attribute of re-directed career progression, but also, at times, a precursor of career choice and success. However being disabled was not always the cause of career change and re-direction. Several of the disabled people perceived their career to have developed much the same as that of their non-disabled colleagues. This thesis recognises the role of education in the career and life success of the disabled high-flyers. The advantages and disadvantages of mainstream and segregated education are highlighted. Although segregated education does indeed restrict the educational and therefore, occupational choices of young disabled people, it is nonetheless considered to be essential to the social, physical and psychological development of disabled children. This work offers the idea of link schools and partial integration to facilitate disabled students to achieve life goals at the rate of their nondisabled peers. The career orientation of the female disabled high-flyers, particularly those with childhood disability, was unlikely to be influenced by their gender. It seems that disability was the master status, overriding all other attributes, including gender. However this was not a negative thing. It was found that disabled women are not only capable of achieving a status equal to non-disabled women in the home, but also have the potential to compete with non-disabled men in the workplace and succeed in gender atypical careers.



  • Business and Economics


  • Business


© Sonali Laxmi Shah

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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