Skip to main content

A Systematic Review of the Role of Gender in Securing and Maintaining Employment Among Youth and Young Adults with Disabilities

Abstract

Purpose There is a critical need for gender-specific vocational supports for young adults with disabilities as they transition to employment. We conducted a systematic review to explore the role of gender in securing and maintaining employment. Methods Systematic searches of seven databases identified 48 studies meeting our inclusion criteria. Using a narrative synthesis approach, these studies were analyzed in terms of the characteristics of the participants, methodology, results, and quality of the evidence. Results Among the 48 studies, 112,473 participants (56% male), mean age (of the total sample) was 21, represented across ten countries. Twenty-one studies reported that young men with disabilities had better employment outcomes than women with disabilities. Eight studies showed that females with disabilities had better employment outcomes than males. Five studies reported that there were no gender differences in employment outcomes for youth with various disabilities. With regards to maintaining employment, men with disabilities often work more hours and have better wages compared to women with disabilities. There are several gender-related barriers and facilitators to maintaining employment including social supports and gender role expectations. Conclusions Our findings highlight that there is a critical need for gender-specific vocational supports for young adults with disabilities.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

References

  1. 1.

    Bisello M, Mascherini M. The gender employment gap: costs and policy responses. Intereconomics. 2017;52(1):24–27.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    World Bank. Gender differences in employment and why they matter. In: World development report 2012: gender equality and development 2012. https://elibrary.worldbank.org/doi/abs/10.1596/9780821388105_ch5. Accessed 22 June 2017.

  3. 3.

    Bishu SG, Alkadry MG. A systematic review of the gender pay gap and factors that predict it. Adm Soc. 2016;49(1):65–104.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    US Department of Labor. BLS spotlight on statistics: women at work. 2011 employment and why they matter. In: World development report 2012: gender equality and development 2012. https://elibrary.worldbank.org/doi/abs/10.1596/9780821388105_ch5. Accessed 22 Jun 2017.

  5. 5.

    Graham JW, Smith SA. Gender differences in employment and earnings in science and engineering in the us. Econ Educ Rev. 2005;24(3):341–354.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Joshi A, Son J, Roh H. When can women close the gap? A meta-analytic test of sex differences in performance and rewards. Acad Manag J. 2015;58(5):1516–1545.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Lindstrom L, Harwick RM, Poppen M, Doren B. Gender gaps: career development for young women with disabilities. Career Dev Trans Except Individ. 2012;35(2):108–117.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    World Health Organization. International classification of functioning, disability, and health: children & youth version. 2007. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/43737/1/9789241547321_eng.pdf. Accessed 4 Aug 2015

  9. 9.

    Mwachofi AK. Gender difference in access and intervention outcomes: the case for women with disabilities. Disabil Rehab. 2009;31(9):693–700.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Doren B, Lombardi AR, Clark J, Lindstrom L. Addressing career barriers for high risk adolescent girls: the paths curriculum intervention. J Adolesc. 2013;36(6):1083–1092.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Lindsay S, Adams T, McDougall C, Sanford R. Skill development in an employment-training program for adolescents with disabilities. Disabil Rehab. 2012;34(3):228–237.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Lindsay S, McDougall C, Sanford R. Disclosure, accommodations and self-care at work among adolescents with disabilities. Disabil Rehab. 2013;35(26):2227–2236.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Lindsay S. Enablers and barriers affecting motor vehicle transportation for youth with physical disabilities: a scoping review. New York: Nova Science Publishers; 2017.

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Carter EW, Trainor AA, Ditchman N, Swedeen B, Owens L. Community-based summer work experiences of adolescents with high-incidence disabilities. J Special Edu. 2011;45(2):89–103.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Roessler RT, Neath J, McMahon BT, Rumrill PD. Workplace discrimination outcomes and their predictive factors for adults with multiple sclerosis. Rehabil Couns Bull. 2007;50(3):139–152.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Gall C, Kingsnorth S, Healy H. Growing up ready: a shared management approach. Phys Occup Ther Pediatr. 2006;26(4):47–62.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Kingsnorth S, Lindsay S, Maxwell J, Tsybina I, Seo H, Macarthur C, et al. Implementation of the lifespan model of transition care across pediatric and adult rehabilitation providers. Int J Child Adolesc Health. 2011;3(4):547–560.

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Lindsay S, McDougall C, Menna-Dack D, Sanford R, Adams T. An ecological approach to understanding barriers to employment for youth with disabilities compared to their typically developing peers: views of youth, employers, and job counselors. Disabil Rehab. 2015;37(8):701–711.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Arnett J. Emerging adulthood: what is it, and what is it good for? Child Dev Perspect. 2007;1(2):68–73.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Hanif S, McDougall C, Lindsay S. A systematic review of vocational interventions for youth with disabilities. Res Soc Sci Disabil. 2017;10:175–196.

  21. 21.

    McCloy U, DeClou L. Disability in Ontario: postsecondary education participation rates, student experience and labour market outcomes. Toronto: Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario; 2013.

    Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Magill-Evans J, Galambos N, Darrah J, Nickerson C. Predictors of employment for young adults with developmental motor disabilities. Work. 2008;31(4):433–442.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Myklebust JO, Båtevik FO. Economic independence among former students with special educational needs: changes and continuities from their late twenties to their mid-thirties. Eur J Special Needs Educ. 2014;29(3):387–401.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Park S-K, Yoon J-Y, Henderson T. Factors affecting employment among people with mobility disabilities in south korea. Int J Rehabil Res. 2007;30(1):19–25.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Wagner MM, Newman LA, Javitz HS. The influence of family socioeconomic status on the post–high school outcomes of youth with disabilities. Career Dev Trans Except Individ. 2014;37(1):5–17.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Doren B, Gau JM, Lindstrom L. The role of gender in the long-term employment outcomes of young adults with disabilities. J Vocat Rehab. 2011;34(1):35–42.

    Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Capella ME. Inequities in the VR system: do they still exist? Rehab Couns Bull. 2002;45(3):143–153.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Lusk SL, Cook D. Enhancing career exploration, decision making, and problem solving of adolescent girls with disabilities. J Vocat Rehab. 2009;31(3):145–153.

    Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Moore CL. Relationship of consumer characteristics and service provision to income of successfully rehabilitated individuals who are deaf. Rehab Couns Bull. 2002;45(4):233–239.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Powers K, Hogansen J, Geenen S, Powers LE, Gil-Kashiwabara E. Gender matters in transition to adulthood: a survey study of adolescents with disabilities and their families. Psychol Sch. 2008;45(4):349–364.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    McDowell C, Fossey E. Workplace accommodations for people with mental illness: a scoping review. J Occup Rehabil. 2015;25(1):197–206.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Botuck S, Levy J, Rimmerman A. Gender-related differences in placement rates of young adults with mental retardation and severe learning disabilities. Int J Rehab Res. 1996;19(3):259–264.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Coutinho MJ, Oswald DP, Best AM. Differences in outcomes for female and male students in special education. Career Dev Except Individ. 2006;29(1):48–59.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Blackorby J, Wagner M. Longitudinal postschool outcomes of youth with disabilities: findings from the national longitudinal transition study. Except Children. 1996;62(5):399–413.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Fabian ES. Urban youth with disabilities: factors affecting transition employment. Rehab Couns Bull. 2007;50(3):130–138.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Sung C, Sanchez J, Kuo HJ, Wang CC, Leahy MJ. Gender differences in vocational rehabilitation service predictors of successful competitive employment for transition-aged individuals with autism. J Autism Dev Disord. 2015;45(10):3204–3218.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Baldridge DC, Swift ML. Withholding requests for disability accommodation the role of individual differences and disability attributes. J Manag. 2013;39(3):743–762.

    Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Schmidt MA, Smith DL. Individuals with disabilities perceptions on preparedness for the workforce and factors that limit employment. Work. 2007;28(1):13–21.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Roebroeck ME, Jahnsen R, Carona C, Kent RM, Chamberlain MA. Adult outcomes and lifespan issues for people with childhood-onset physical disability. Dev Med Children Neurol. 2009;51(8):670–678.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Tannenbaum C, Greaves L, Graham ID. Why sex and gender matter in implementation research. BMC Med Res Method. 2016;16(1):145–154.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Clayton JA, Tannenbaum C. Reporting sex, gender, or both in clinical research? J Am Med Assoc. 2016;316(18):1863–1864.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. 42.

    Petticrew M, Roberts H. Systematic reviews in the social sciences: a practical guide. Hoboken: Wiley; 2008.

    Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    Whittemore R, Knafl K. The integrative review: updated methodology. J Adv Nurs. 2005;52(5):546–553.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  44. 44.

    Kmet L, Lee R, Cook L. Standard quality assessment criteria for evaluating primary research papers from a variety of fields. Edmonton: Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AHFMR); 2004; HTA initiative #13.

  45. 45.

    Liberati A, Altman DG, Tetzlaff J, Mulrow C, Gøtzsche PC, Ioannidis JP, et al. The prisma statement for reporting systematic reviews and meta-analyses of studies that evaluate health care interventions: explanation and elaboration. PLoS Med. 2009;6(7):e1–e34.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  46. 46.

    Villanueva-Flores M, Valle-Cabrera R, Bornay-Barrachina M. Career development and individuals with physical disabilities. Career Dev Int. 2014;19(2):222–243.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. 47.

    Bieszk-Stolorz B. Economic activity of the disabled in poland in 2010. Folia Oeconomica Stetin. 2012; 10(2):128–137.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. 48.

    Boman T, Kjellberg A, Danermark B, Boman E. Can people with disabilities gain from education? Similarities and differences between occupational attainment among persons with and without disabilities. Work. 2014;49(2):193–204.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  49. 49.

    Levine P, Edgar E. An analysis by gender of long-term postschool outcomes for youth with and without disabilities. Except Children. 1994;61(3):282–300.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. 50.

    Gold PB, Fabian ES, Luecking RG. Job acquisition by urban youth with disabilities transitioning from school to work. Rehab Couns Bull. 2013;57(1):31–45.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. 51.

    Eng M, Zhang J, Cambon A, Marvin MR, Gleason J. Employment outcomes following successful renal transplantation. Clin Transplant. 2012;26(2):242–246.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  52. 52.

    Rabren K, Dunn C, Chambers D. Predictors of post-high school employment among young adults with disabilities. Career Dev Except Individ. 2002;25(1):25–40.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. 53.

    Poppen M, Lindstrom L, Unruh D, Khurana A, Bullis M, Sevak P, et al. Preparing youth with disabilities for employment: an analysis of vocational rehabilitation case services data. J Vocat Rehab. 2017;46(2):209–224.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. 54.

    Olson D, Cioffi A, Yovanoff P, Mank D. Gender differences in supported employment. Ment Retard. 2000;38(2):89–96.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  55. 55.

    Van Mechelen M, Verhoef M, Van Asbeck F, Post M. Work participation among young adults with spina bifida in the netherlands. Dev Med Children Neurol. 2008;50(10):772–777.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  56. 56.

    Bellin MH, Dicianno BE, Levey E, Dosa N, Roux G, Marben K, et al. Interrelationships of sex, level of lesion, and transition outcomes among young adults with myelomeningocele. Dev Med Children Neurol. 2011;53(7):647–652.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  57. 57.

    Holwerda A, van der Klink JJ, de Boer MR, Groothoff JW, Brouwer S. Predictors of sustainable work participation of young adults with developmental disorders. Res Dev Disabil. 2013;34(9):2753–2763.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  58. 58.

    Pang JW, Friedman DL, Whitton JA, Stovall M, Mertens AC, Robison LL, et al. Employment status among adult survivors in the childhood cancer survivor study. Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2008;50(1):104–110.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  59. 59.

    Nagarajan R, Neglia JP, Clohisy DR, Yasui Y, Greenberg M, Hudson M, et al. Education, employment, insurance, and marital status among 694 survivors of pediatric lower extremity bone tumors: a report from the childhood cancer survivor study. Cancer. 2003;97(10):2554–2564.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  60. 60.

    Schaller J, Yang N, Trainor A. Transition-age adults with adhd: gender and predictors of vocational rehabilitation outcomes. J Appl Rehab Couns. 2006;37(1):3−12.

    Google Scholar 

  61. 61.

    Foy CM. Long term efficacy of an integrated neurological and vocational rehabilitation programme for young adults with acquired brain injury. J Occup Rehab. 2014;24(3):533–542.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. 62.

    Murphy ME, Holzer CE, 3rd, Richardson LM, Epperson K, Ojeda S, Martinez EM, et al. Quality of life of young adult survivors of pediatric burns using world health organization disability assessment scale ii and burn specific health scale-brief: a comparison. J Burn Care Res. 2015;36(5):521–533.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  63. 63.

    Anderson CJ, Vogel LC, Willis KM, Betz RR. Stability of transition to adulthood among individuals with pediatric-onset spinal cord injuries. J Spinal Cord Med. 2006;29(1):46–56.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  64. 64.

    Klein JF, Hood SB. The impact of stuttering on employment opportunities and job performance. J Fluency Disord. 2004;29(4):255–273.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  65. 65.

    Chiang H-M, Cheung YK, Li H, Tsai LY. Factors associated with participation in employment for high school leavers with autism. J Autism Dev Disord. 2013;43(8):1832–1842.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  66. 66.

    Mondéjar-Jiménez J, Vargas-Vargas M, Mondéjar-Jiménez J-A, Bayot-Mestre A. An approach to the socio-labour situation of disabled women in rural communities in a spanish region. Disabil Rehab. 2009;31(16):1328–1337.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  67. 67.

    Gerhardt CA, McGoron KD, Vannatta K, McNamara KA, Taylor J, Passo M, et al. Educational and occupational outcomes among young adults with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2008;59(10):1385–1391.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. 68.

    Kaya C, Chan F, Rumrill P, Hartman E, Wehman P, Iwanaga K, et al. Vocational rehabilitation services and competitive employment for transition-age youth with autism spectrum disorders. J Vocat Rehab. 2016;45(1):73–83.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  69. 69.

    Migliore A, Timmons J, Butterworth J, Lugas J. Predictors of employment and postsecondary education of youth with autism. Rehab Couns Bull. 2012;55(3):176–184.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. 70.

    Kulkarni M, Lengnick-Hall ML. Socialization of people with disabilities in the workplace. Hum Resour Manag. 2011;50(4):521–540.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  71. 71.

    Breslin FC, Pole JD, Tompa E, Amick BC 3rd, Smith P, Johnson SH. Antecedents of work disability absence among young people: a prospective study. Ann Epidemiol. 2007;17(10):814–820.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  72. 72.

    Gibson BE, Mistry B, Smith B, Yoshida KK, Abbott D, Lindsay S, et al. Becoming men: gender, disability, and transitioning to adulthood. Health. 2014;18(1):95–114.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  73. 73.

    Lindstrom L, Doren B, Miesch J. Waging a living: career development and long-term employment outcomes for young adults with disabilities. Except Children. 2011;77(4):423–434.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  74. 74.

    Strauser D, Feuerstein M, Chan F, Arango J, da Silva Cardoso E, Chiu C-Y. Vocational services associated with competitive employment in 18–25 year old cancer survivors. J Cancer Surviv. 2010;4(2):179–186.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  75. 75.

    Hogansen JM, Powers K, Geenen S, Gil-Kashiwabara E, Powers L. Transition goals and experiences of females with disabilities: youth, parents, and professionals. Except Children. 2008;74(2):215–234.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  76. 76.

    Lindstrom LE, Benz MR, Doren B. Expanding career options for young women with learning disabilities. Career Dev Trans Except Individ. 2004;27(1):43–63.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  77. 77.

    Lindstrom LE, Benz MR. Phases of career development: case studies of young women with learning disabilities. Except Children. 2002;69(1):67–83.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  78. 78.

    Assembly UG. Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. GA Res. 2006;61:106.

    Google Scholar 

  79. 79.

    Lindsay S. Discrimination and other barriers to employment for teens and young adults with disabilities. Disabil Rehab. 2011;33(15–16):1340–1350.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  80. 80.

    Ang RP, Lim KM, Tan A-G, Yau TY. Effects of gender and sex role orientation on help-seeking attitudes. Curr Psychol. 2004;23(3):203–214.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  81. 81.

    Mackenzie C, Gekoski W, Knox V. Age, gender, and the underutilization of mental health services: the influence of help-seeking attitudes. Aging Mental Health. 2006;10(6):574–582.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  82. 82.

    Ratzon N, Schejter T, Alon E, Schreuer N. Are young adults with special needs ready for the physical work demands? Res Dev Disabil. 2011;32(1):371–376.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  83. 83.

    Davies MD, Beamish W. Transitions from school for young adults with intellectual disability: parental perspectives on “life as an adjustment”. J Intellect Dev Disabil. 2009;34(3):248–257.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Funding

This study was funded by the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sally Lindsay.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 100 KB)

Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 30 KB)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Lindsay, S., Cagliostro, E., Albarico, M. et al. A Systematic Review of the Role of Gender in Securing and Maintaining Employment Among Youth and Young Adults with Disabilities. J Occup Rehabil 28, 232–251 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10926-017-9726-x

Download citation

Keywords

  • Gender
  • Employment
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Youth
  • Adolescents