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Three minutes on why adults with developmental disabilities are underemployed

MSc Global Health student Emily Fitzgerald

MSc Global Health student Emily Fitzgerald who presented her thesis research this week at the university-wide 3MT® competition.


March 13, 2019

“The employment rate of the general population in Canada is 74%, yet the employment rate of individuals with developmental disabilities is 22%,” explains MSc Global Health student Emily Fitzgerald, who presented her research on ‘Employment: Bridging the Gap’ at McMaster’s seventh annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition, which kicked off today. 

Fitzgerald joined more than 90 participants – graduate students working across a range of disciplines – in presenting complex research in one static slide in an engaging, compelling and accessible way, in just three short minutes, at the university-wide competition.

Fitzgerald’s research involves exploring factors that influence successful employment in Canada, with an aim to create a better understanding of what is contributing to employment and unemployment for adults with developmental disabilities.

For Fitzgerald, the 3MT® experience was an invaluable one because it helped her hone her communication skills – essential competencies for a career in the global health field. “The 3MT was great in terms of understanding how to best explain research to a breadth of individuals – and it enabled me to step out of my comfort zone,” she says. 

As current governments are decreasing rather than increasing funding for projects for adults with developmental disabilities, Fitzgerald hopes her research will help to increase the chances of these individuals in gaining employment.

“Although I didn’t make it to the final heat, I feel fortunate to have had this opportunity to represent the Global Health program and create some awareness about a critical issue at the same time,” says Fitzgerald.

The first place winner will represent the university at the Ontario 3MT competition, hosted at McMaster on April 17.