Graduation Year

2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Special Education

Major Professor

Patricia Alvarez McHatton, Ph.D.

Keywords

Disabilities, Special education, Gender, Phenomenology, Behavior disorders

Abstract

Being a female and having a disability has been referred to as 'double jeopardy' (Wehmeyer & Schwartz, 2001). However research in the area of disabilities has either focused on the specific disability as a whole (i.e. research on learning disabilities or behavior disorders) or on mostly males (i.e. interventions in a classroom made up predominantly of boys). Researchers have pointed out that the school experiences for typical males and females are different as is the development of the two genders (Proctor & Choi, 1994). However in disability studies, the gender issue is seldom addressed (Deschler, 2005; Oswald, Best, Coutinho & Nagle, 2003; Vardill & Calvert, 2000; Wehmeyer & Schwartz, 2001). Post school outcomes for females with disabilities are poor (Rousso & Wehmeyer, 2001).

Compared to boys with disabilities, girls with disabilities earn lower wages, have a lower likelihood of employment as well as work fewer hours a week with less job stability (Doren & Benz, 1998, 2001). Rates of depression and other mental health disorders are higher (Maag & Reid, 2005). The paucity of research in these areas calls for a need of more research in the specific area of females and disabilities. The issue of gender inequity in education, specifically special education is one that needs closer examination and understanding. Phenomenological method was utilized to explore the school experiences of females labeled EBD. A combination of life-history interviewing and focused in-depth interviewing, to elicit the perceptions and attributions of six girls as they describe their school experience was employed. The Listening Guide approach was applied for analysis in this study (Gilligan, Spencer, Weinberg & Bertsch, 2004).

The themes that emerged were school disengagement, mother-daughter relationships, stigma, hope and resiliency and the concept of dueling narratives. A discussion of how each theme emerged through the analysis process is provided. These themes are compared with the literature on the identification of students with disability, issues in gender, teacher behaviors, along with a critique of the method. Limitations and recommendations for future research are provided.

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