Disability, Career Advancement, and Leadership

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Samosh, Dan
Disability , Career advancement , Leadership , Management , Quantitative methods , Qualitative Methods , Leaders with disabilities
My dissertation includes three research papers on disability, career advancement, and leadership. With limited prior research on the lived experience of leaders with disabilities, I begin with a qualitative study on career advancement and leadership facilitators in Chapter 2. Twenty-one leaders with disabilities participated in this study. Participants explained how they benefited from three types of facilitators during their career advancement, including career self-management strategies, organizational and societal factors, and social networks. These facilitators are synthesized with a metaphor called the three-legged stool. This metaphor portrays the importance of three foundational pillars that underlie career advancement and leadership among persons with disabilities. Directing attention to an understudied element of one of those pillars—social networks—I report how leaders’ external networks (e.g., family, friends, acquaintances, and role models) facilitated their career advancement and leadership as well. Having explored facilitators of career advancement and leadership in Chapter 2, I move on to study the relationship between disability and career advancement with a quantitative, archival study in Chapter 3. The literature provides varied reports on this relationship, and importantly, this stream of research has tended to focus on disability as a homogenous construct. However, in reality, disability is multifaceted and complex. Therefore, I examine whether disaggregating disability by type (physical, sensory, mental, and multiple disabilities) might better predict promotion rates. This analysis includes data from 4025 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 respondents. Although initially promising, data limitations result in a discussion focused on future research. My final empirical chapter, Chapter 4, includes experiments on how observers perceive leaders with and without a disability. These studies focus on when bias is expected to arise. Overall, 578 Amazon Mechanical Turk users participated in the studies of this chapter. Results illustrate how the stereotype-fit (good-fit/poor-fit) of a focal leader’s role and disability influence hiring expectations of that leader. However, only after the leader has made a mistake. Findings on leaders without a disability were not consistent with those on leaders with a disability. This dissertation has implications for research, practice, and persons with disabilities that I discuss in the following chapters.
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