Reassessing cultural capital: access to employment for women with disabilities in Saudi Arabia

Dimity Jane Peter (School for Global Inclusion and Social Development, University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, USA)
Sarah Alem (School for Global Inclusion and Social Development, University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, USA)
Barbara Knabe (School for Global Inclusion and Social Development, University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, USA)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Publication date: 16 April 2018

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to give voice to the experiences of women with disabilities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) who have accessed employment, to highlight the structural barriers to employment and to identify the skills they used to obtain work.

Design/methodology/approach

This is a phenomenological study conducted in KSA. Themes from the interviews of women with disabilities were explored using Yosso’s (2005) cultural capital conceptual framework.

Findings

The participants had work and career aspirations, persisted in their job search, navigated barriers, and had familial support and emotional support from their social networks, but lacked instrumental assistance in accessing work. KSA policies to support women and people with disabilities to obtain employment are not adequately enforced, and negative attitudes toward people with disabilities are widespread.

Research limitations/implications

The sample size is small, but these preliminary findings justify the necessity for additional research and policy development specifically focused on women with disabilities.

Practical implications

There is an urgent need for existing policy enforcement and a need for a national strategy promoting the employment of women and the needs of women with disabilities should be specifically included in this agenda.

Originality/value

There is no extant research or policy literature regarding employment and women with disabilities in the KSA. This study applies Yosso’s (2005) theory of cultural capital to women with disabilities, demonstrating its applicability outside of race/ethnicity studies and suggests that “community” is not an essential factor in building employment success.

Keywords

Citation

Peter, D., Alem, S. and Knabe, B. (2018), "Reassessing cultural capital: access to employment for women with disabilities in Saudi Arabia", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 37 No. 3, pp. 265-282. https://doi.org/10.1108/EDI-08-2017-0156

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Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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