Breaking the silence : exploring the workplace experiences of six women with learning disabilities
Augustin, Melissa L.
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In the current economic climate, employees are expected to upgrade their skills in order to remain productive and competitive in the workplace, and many women with learning disabilities! may feel doubly challenged when dealing with such expectations. Although the number of people with reported learning disabilities who enter the workforce is expected to increase, a dearth of research focuses on work-related experiences of women with learning disabilities; consequently, employers and educators often are unaware ofthe obstacles and demands facing such individuals. This qualitative narrative study sheds light on the work experiences of women with diagnosed or suspected learning disabilities. The study used semistructured interviews to explore their perspectives and reflections on learnlng in order to: (a) raise awareness of the needs of women with learning disabilities, (b) enhance their opportunities to learn in the workplace, and (c) draw attention to the need for improvement of inclusiveness in the workplace, especially for hidden disabilities. Study findings reveal that participants' learning was influenced by work relationships, the learning environments, self-determination, and taking personal responsibility. Moreover, the main accommodation requested was to have supportive and understanding work relationships and environments. Recommendations are made for future research and workplace improvements, most notably that no employees should be left behind through an employee-centered approach.