PhD researcher Lesley Ellis

Lesley Ellis

About me

I am a Canadian who identifies as disabled.  I completed my BA in Philosophy and Sociology at the University of Victoria in 2001. After working in fundraising for a number of years I decided to go back to school in 2011 and completed my MA in Disability Studies through the University of Leeds distance-learning programme in 2013.

Why I chose to pursue PhD study at the University of Leeds

After completing my MA in Disability Studies at the University of Leeds I was motivated to continue my studies and undertake a PhD in order to pursue research in my area of interest further. Leeds has one the leading centres of Disability Studies in the world and it seemed like a natural choice. I am honoured to be able to be a part of a centre that has contributed significantly to the study of the social oppression of disabled people.  

What makes me passion about this area of study

I am passionate about the rights of disabled people and the breakdown of the pervasive and systematic barriers we face. I believe that research and activism is central to identifying and eliminating the social, economic and cultural barriers  and prejudice that disabled people encounter on a day to day basis.

My research topic

My research focuses on women with dwarfism and how they experience disability as external prejudice and barriers. I am looking into how the use of a mobility aid, which many women with dwarfism use, is significant in altering or influencing the interactions they encounter in public spaces. My research has shown that the distinct cultural and social representations of people with dwarfism have maintained persistent prejudiced beliefs and behaviours toward them.

My experience so far

My time at Leeds so far has been wonderful. The staff and students in Sociology and Social Policy are welcoming and helpful.

The University offers many workshops and programmes for first year PhD students to help you adjust to your studies and gain the skills required to work as a teaching assistant while pursuing your degree. The libraries are excellent and have large collections.  The Centre for Disability Studies is a leading centre and has made a significant impact into the study of disability. Many of the lecturers and professors have contributed greatly to the field and it is wonderful to be able to learn and discuss the issues with them directly.

Life in Leeds

Leeds is a great city. It is compact and easy to get around once you have made yourself familiar with it. The University is centrally located which is very convenient.

My advise to prospective PhD students

I would recommend researching the department you are interested in studying in and reaching out to them to see if it is the best fit for your area of interest. Look at who is teaching at the School and what type of research they are involved in can help in deciding if the University is right for you.

Future plans

I hope to continue working in academia, teaching, writing and researching in my areas of interest.