Dr. Ilan Dwek has recently been awarded the PhD degree in Education from the University of Reading where he works as a Lecturer in Education.

His thesis is titled ‘How have educational experiences and Deaf identity relate to employment success?’, and he was supervised by Dr. Tim Williams with two different second supervisors, Professor Jill Porter, who was later replaced by Dr. Billy Wong upon her retirement.

Dr. Dwek chose this area of research as it is comparatively under-researched and he strongly suspected that problems faced by deaf children in education today led to disadvantages in career progression, and the following abridged version of his abstract summed it up thus:

For several years, there has been little research on how deaf people have managed at their workplace, where some are more successful than the others. This would usually depend on the qualifications they will have achieved prior to entering their workplace. Additionally, not much has been researched on why some deaf staff manage better at career progression.

Considering challenges at work, this study focused on those deaf people who work in a predominantly hearing environment where the deaf person would often be the sole deaf staff in the whole company to investigate the impact on his self-esteem.

Amongst the findings, resilience is the key to managing in the challenging workplace environment, however the deaf participants indicated that there is a need to have better deaf awareness and improved attitudes at work, which would make for a better motivated and happier atmosphere.

While Deaf Identity might be important to the signing deaf people’s lives in general, it is not a critical factor in dealing with workplace issues and maintaining own mental wellbeing. This contrasts with certain type of upbringing leading to higher self-esteem at work – and these would typically be cochlear-implant deaf person who relies on spoken or written mode of the sufficiently good standard of English language, leading to enhanced confidence in the workplace.

These findings also suggest that different levels of hearing loss, current age, school types which they attended, etc. does not influence on the self-esteem scale.”


Dr. Dwek commented that:

“It had been an interesting challenge doing my doctoral thesis part-time while juggling with my work at the Institute of Education and DLC as well as having little kids simultaneously. Then, there was the Covid-19 pandemic which led to a slight delay in data collection and analysis! But I would like to thank my supervisors for their tremendous patience in my 6-year long and arduous journey, guiding me in a supportive manner to the other side of the tunnel.”


Many congratulations from all of us here at the University of Reading’s Institute of Education!

To learn more about Dr. Dwek’s research, visit his profile page here. He tweets at @IlanGDwek.