Professor David Pettinicchio has recently been awarded one of the Province of Ontario's Early Researcher Awards. These awards, provided by Ontario's Ministry of Research and Innovation, give funding to new researchers working at publicly funded Ontario research institutions to help them build their research teams.
Professor Pettinicchio will use his award to support students working with him on his study of the discrimination faced by Ontarians with disabilities in the employment sector. His research is motivated by the awareness that Ontarians with disabilities are three times less likely to work, and when they do work, earn considerably less than people without disabilities. Although theories of discrimination based on indirect evidence suggest that employer attitudes and behaviours create obstacles at various stages in employment for people with disabilities, his research will provide direct evidence about how discrimination manifests itself and provide valuable information for developing solutions to help Ontarians with disabilities achieve their employment potential.
With his students, Professor Pettinicchio is directly observing correspondence between job candidates and employers using matched-pair résumés sent to real employers. Their field experiment represents a major step forward in the study of labour market discrimination placing Ontario at the forefront of audit-based employment discrimination research. Their findings will address the ongoing disconnect between policies meant to increase employment among the disabled– especially in Ontario’s growing knowledge-based economy – and actual employment outcomes. Underemployment and underperformance in the labour market is a concern shared by many industrialized countries. Given these international concerns, the implications of this study will also be of interest to researchers and policymakers around the world.