Expanding career options for young women with learning disabilities

Authors: Lindstrom, L., Doren, B., & Miesch, J.
Year Published 2004
Publication Career Development for Exceptional Individuals
Volume 27
Number 43
Pages 43-63
Publisher Hammill Institute on Disabilities

Research indicates poor post school employment outcomes and limited career advancement opportunities for young women with disabilities. Individual and environmental barriers have culminated into limited career choices and post school employment outcomes. There has been very little research on the career decision process or variables that limit or facilitate career choice for this group.


The study examined barriers restricting career choices and strategies to facilitate or expand career choice for young women with learning disabilities.


The study took place in multiple interview settings.


Participants were six young women with learning disabilities who resided a northwestern state. Three were employed in traditional (female dominated)occupations the other three were not. Earning ranged from $6.50 to $20.00 per hour.

Data Collection

Case study methodology was used to analyze variables influencing career choices for young women with learning disabilities. Multiple sources of information were used to confirm, elaborate and verify collected information. This included interviews with all participants and 28 key informants. Additionally, data was collected through on the job observations, field notes, and review of special education and vocational rehabilitation records. A multistep process was used in the first phase of analysis. Descriptive codes were developed based on literature, research questions and initial review of data. Next interview transcripts and field notes were coded following a common scheme. Then coded data and file review information were used to outline the career decision making process for each participant by examining variables that impacted each participant's career choices. In the second phase a explanatory methods were used to explore and confirm findings for each participant. Explanatory matrices were developed that allowed comparison of information on variables across participants. Cross case analysis led to identification and verification of influences on career decision.


The study did not include control or comparison conditions.


The following variables seemed to influence initial career choices and post school outcomes for participants: gender roles, disability limitations, family and childhood experiences, early work experiences and career exploration and counseling. Gender roles and socialization influenced career choices. Disability limitations restricted career choice. Family and childhood experiences influence career choices. Early work experiences played a role in shaping career options as did career counseling and exploration. Regardless of the participants chosen occupation, the influences on career choices were similar. It was also evident that occupational choices were developed and refined over time.


Gender roles and difficulties from disability restricted career choices. Exposure to work through family experiences and employment in high school expanded career aspirations.

URL http://cde.sagepub.com/content/27/1/43.refs
Disabilities Specific learning disabilities
Populations Male & Female
Outcomes Other
NIDILRR Funded Not Reported
Research Design Case reports
Peer Reviewed Yes