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Title: Is the Ivory Tower wheelchair accessible? : what are the barriers and enablers to the employment of disabled academics and what theoretical frameworks can be adopted to understand them?
Author: Ahmed, Nadia
ISNI:       0000 0004 9355 5979
Awarding Body: Queen Mary University of London
Current Institution: Queen Mary, University of London
Date of Award: 2020
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Through this research, the author has sought to emancipate and raise the voices of disabled academics. The marginalisation of disabled people in employment, education and everyday life is still a reality and the situations are no different in academia. Indeed, as the title of this thesis suggests, even the traditional metaphor for academia, the ivory tower, seems disability unfriendly. Nonetheless, disabled people are not passive or inactive, in fact disabled workers and academics are actively challenging this understanding and working towards bringing a change. To understand the disabling effects and ableism in society the concepts and models of disability play a crucial role and are incorporated in this thesis. However, the social model has certain limitations suggesting that disability is not an individual deficit. Instead, it is a collective experience of oppression, resulting in the exclusion of disabled people and social invalidation of their personal disability experiences. In order to understand these gaps created by the social model, the political theories of Antonio Gramsci are used to analyse disabled academics’ university workplace employment and their activism. This research topic is dear to the author because she is a disabled PhD student, struggling to achieve employment as an academic. The factors influencing the transition from disabled academic student to a disabled professional academic becomes problematic due to many political, social and physical aspects, which are elaborated in the auto-ethnography in Chapter Seven of this thesis. It is suggested that disabled students’ lives are now mostly accessible; however, becoming an academic and getting academic employment remains difficult. The findings reported in the thesis draw upon ten in-depth oral histories with disabled academics, triangulated with seven semi-structured interviews with Human Resource (HR) managers and extensive documentary analysis of the policies and practices at three University case-studies. Drawing on a Gramscian theoretical framework, the research findings demonstrate a strong influence of traditional and/or organic contemporary understanding of disability and HR practices in three University case-studies, which, in turn, influence the employment experiences of disabled academics. The differences that are identified among the three University case-studies highlight how disabled hegemonies influence different perceptions and assumptions about disability and ableism, but also that they are not universal or inevitable.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available