Breaking down barriers for Neurodiverse Women

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2018 National Disabled Members' Conference
6 July 2018

Conference notes that “neurodiversity” is a relatively new term that refers to people who have dyslexia, autism, ADHD, dyspraxia or other related conditions that may also stem from a neurological impairment. People with these conditions have a wide range of characteristics but may also share some common features in terms of how they learn and process information compared to “neurotypical” people. These features can often be strengths as well as challenges, but bring many benefits for employers which the term neurodiversity acknowledges. Neurodiverse workforces can lead to more lateral thinking and can be a business benefit to employers.

Conference further notes that neurodiverse women are often under-diagnosed because of tired old stereotypes about what boys and girls with these conditions should act like. This ignores the different ways that genders are socialised, which can also conceal neurodiversity in women workers. Therefore a neurodiverse woman is much less likely to be able to request the reasonable adjustments they may require to keep them in work or point to the sexism which plays a detrimental role in neurodiverse women’s experience in the workplace.

Conference welcomes the fact that World Autism Awareness Day in 2018 had an emphasis on women and girls and calls on the National Disabled Members Committee to:

1. Consider developing guidance on neurodiversity in the workplace, which includes a specific reference to the challenges faced by women workers with neurodiverse conditions

2. Publicise and promote UNISON’s ‘Proving Disability and Reasonable Adjustments’ guide

3. Work with Learning And Organising Services to consider developing training on neurodiversity, with specific reference to women and neurodiversity.