Dr Stefanie Reher's current research focuses on the political engagement and representation of disabled people in politics. We know that being disabled can have detrimental effects on people’s chances in various spheres of society, including education, the labour market, and social and family life. However, very little research has been done on the political inclusion of disabled people – even though the political representation of marginalised social groups is thought to be crucial for tackling inequalities, discrimination, and stigmatisation.
In a recently published article , she finds that citizens with disabilities are less engaged and less confident in the political process across Europe. Although differences in resources and discrimination play a role, we need more research to understand these gaps. Disabled people are also under-represented among political office-holders. Together with Dr Elizabeth Evans (Goldsmiths, University of London) they are currently conducting a study for the UK Government Equalities Office about the barriers that disabled people face when standing for elected office. We are interviewing former and current candidates, Councillors, and MPs to learn from their experiences and strategies to overcome the various barriers. The outcomes of the study will inform Government policy aimed at increasing the representation of disabled people in politics.