I see you but you don’t see me: the “two-way mirror effect” of gender and disability in employment

Bend, Gemma Louise and Fielden, Sandra (2021). I see you but you don’t see me: the “two-way mirror effect” of gender and disability in employment. Gender in Management: An International Journal, 36(7) pp. 821–838.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/GM-03-2019-0049


Purpose: This paper aims to contribute to prior gender-based conceptual models within organisational and management studies by incorporating an additional lens of disability. The authors present a context specific and embodied based model that we call the “two-way mirror effect” which accounts for the environmental and discursive effects of gender and disability within the workplace.

Design/methodology/approach: The paper reviews existing literature on gender, disability and employment and uses that literature to construct and support the concept of a two-way mirror effect.

Findings: By drawing on organisation and management-based studies, the authors have shown how previous models do not currently account for the experiences of disabled women within the workplace. Disabled workers, and especially disabled women face a myriad of unique barriers, including masculine and able-bodied employment practices (e.g. performative expectations) and exclusionary physical spaces (e.g. access, location to required facilities), that exclude them from full employment participation.

Practical implications: The review of existing literature and conceptual models reveal the gaps in research that academics and practitioners can build upon and the paper identifies the dominant norms that are embedded within organisational practices, which can be challenged to promote inclusion and equality.

Originality/value: The authors present a new intersectional-based conceptual model to fill a gap in organisational and management-based studies that accounts for the unique employment experiences of disabled employees, specifically disabled women.

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