Disability and the Academic Job Market

Chris McGunnigle (Ed.)

by Benjamin Habib (La Trobe University), Chris McGunnigle (Seton Hall University), Mohsen Aghabozorgi Nafchi (Payame Noor University, Iran), Zahra Alidousti (Technical and Vocational University of Shahrekord), Daniel Nii Aboagye Aryeh (Perez University College, Ghana), Janelle Capwell (University of Arizona), Chad Chisholm (Southern Wesleyan University), Davyd W. Chung (University of Illinois at Chicago), Jennifer M. Gagnon (University of British Columbia), Tessa-May Zirnsak (La Trobe University), Cara E. Jones (California State University), Travis Chi Wing Lau (Kenyon College), Susan Magasi (University of Illinois at Chicago), Kenya Mitchell , Ricardo D. Ramirez (University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System), Steve Singer (The College of New Jersey), Sean Dineen (Kean University)

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"Disability and the Academic Job Market" examines ableist structures in academia that inherently create obstacles to full-time employment for people with a disability. Based on historical and contemporary scholarship, it has been shown how disclosure of a disability can have profound repercussions for a scholar with a disability. Scholars with a disability are often inhibited from applying to or being promoted in academia because of direct discrimination, negative perception towards people with a disability, inaccessible physical and performance conditions, and social models of disability that characterize disability as unproductive, abnormal, and risky. While scholarship has addressed ableism in academia, it has not strongly focused on the specific difficulties and barriers that a person with a disability faces when applying for a full-time academic position. This book seeks to provide a resource that brings to light ableist conditions in the academic hiring process through the lived experiences of scholars with a disability, with hope to implement change in these situations.

This collection presents a combination of personal narrative and scholarship from academics with a disability who have navigated the academic job market, with additional contributions from non-disabled allies who have advocated for change in academic structures. Our collection begins by expressing the concerned experiences of students entering the academic job market, followed by scholars who have more fully lived through the obstacles of the academic market in both contingent and tenure track positions. A vital focus of this collection is on intersectionality as chapters draw from interactions between disability and race, gender, and sexuality across international contexts. Important topics discussed throughout the collection include systemic ableism, disclosure, the job interview, academic workaholism, and lack of accommodations.


Foreword by Dr. Sean Dineen



Chapter 1 Learning from each other: An autoethnographic dialogue on being mad in the academy
Tessa-May Zirnsak and Ben Habib
La Trobe University

Chapter 2 Disability in the tutor’s seat: Questioning accessibility in the shift from disabled student to disabled student-employee
Janelle Chu Capwell
University of Arizona

Chapter 3 “Undisciplined cognators”: Invisible disability and neurodiversity on the academic job market
Travis Chi Wing Lau
Kenyon College


Chapter 4 Uncovering red flags: Determining school fit for prospective faculty with a disability through qualitative analysis
Kenya Mitchell
The Mama Bird Doula Alliance

Chapter 5 “What got you interested in researching that?”: Accommodations are not enough for applicants with dynamic disabilities on the academic job market
Cara Jones
California State University

Chapter 6 The inaccessible tower: Disability, gender, and contract faculty
Jennifer M. Gagnon
University of British Columbia


Chapter 7 An “island in the [professorial] mainstream”: Experiences with ableism in the pursuit of an academic career
Steven Singer
The College of New Jersey

Chapter 8 The caregiver professor: Sharing the experience of disability
Chad Chisholm
Hinds Community College


Chapter 9 People with visual disabilities in academic jobs: An Iran case study
Mohsen Aghabozorgi Nafchi
Payame Noor University
Zahra Alidousti Shahraki
Technical and Vocational University of Shahrekord

Chapter 10 The spiritual model of disability and the reorientation of academic employment infrastructure for persons living with disabilities in Ghana
Daniel Nii Aboagye Aryeh
Perez University College

Chapter 11 Creating pipeline programs to support career development of students with disabilities in cancer research
Susan Magasi and Davyd W. Chung
University of Illinois at Chicago
Ricardo D. Ramirez
University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System




Christopher McGunnigle earned his PhD in Rhetoric and Composition from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 2016. Since the age of five years old, he has spent a lifetime working with people with disabilities, first as an advocate for university-level accommodations, then moving into group home management, and later becoming a mentor for scholars with disabilities who were struggling with access to research or other academic difficulties. This collection was inspired out of his own personal experiences with having a disability on the job market searching for a full-time academic position.

Disability, ableism, identity, disclosure, academia, employment, job market, accessibility, accommodations, autoethnography