Debunking the myths that keep women with disabilities out of work

Women’s Agenda


Women with disabilities are often overlooked by business when it comes to employment, when they could be a great asset if given a chance.

Women with Disabilities Australia says that “Working age women with disabilities who are in the labour force are half as likely to find full-time employment (20%) as men with disabilities (42%); twice as likely to be in part-time employment (24%) as men with disabilities (12%); and regardless of full-time or part-time status, are likely to be in lower paid jobs than men with disabilities.” This shows clearly that women with disabilities are missing out on the opportunities that employment can provide, adding to their existing poverty levels.

Closing the employment gap for people with disabilities has been modelled to add $43 billion to Australia’s GDP over the next decade. The progressive rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme is also expected to allow many more people with disabilities to access employment by providing the rights supports, with 370,000 estimated to be joining the workforce by 2050.

Many businesses wrongly believe that hiring someone with a disability will be costly and that the worker may not be able to do the job. A variety of myths exist about employing someone with a disability that research has shown are false – for example, workers with disabilities have lower absenteeism than other workers, and are employed in a variety of skilled professions.

Disability Employment Services are specialists in finding jobs for people with disabilities. They are funded to assist employers with a range of resources to make workplaces accessible and encourage the hiring of disabled people through government subsidised wages.

Having staff who understand accessibility and other disability-related issues can also be a business advantage – in terms of physical access, but also online and social access. One in five Australians have a disability and are consumers that are often ignored. Employees who have lived experience of disability could give their employers a distinct advantage in reaching these potential customers.

Employers have much to gain by employing women with disabilities – government support and the NDIS are both working to make this an easier process, but business must open the door.

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