Autistic women face sexist expectations at work

Page 1 of 1 [ 16 posts ] 

ASPartOfMe
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 65
Gender: Male
Posts: 29,722
Location: Long Island, New York

14 Mar 2022, 7:59 am

psnews

Quote:
Sexist expectations around communication style negatively affects autistic women at work, UK research has found.

Fifteen autistic women were interviewed extensively about their experiences, such as communication skills, reasonable adjustments and career progression.

One autistic woman said she was singled out and sent to a training program to improve her interpersonal skills.

Meanwhile, “men performing the same work with similar communication styles in her area were not”.

Another said that she was seen as “untrustworthy” for not making eye contact with her bosses.

However, autistic women found the greatest issue was the gendered expectations surrounding communication styles between men and women.

“Men who may or may not be formally acknowledged to be autistic, may be given leeway by colleagues for what is assumed to be a communication deficit in a way that their female counterparts are not,” the study says.

One example given by Farah, an autistic woman who participated in the study, was around her email communication.

She told researchers that her “precise” and “to the point” emails were regarded as “rude and lazy” for not including pleasantries.

Yet, when male colleagues wrote similar emails, they didn’t face any “damaging consequences”.

The researcher of the study noted that Farah was pressured to adopt more “gender appropriate behaviour”, instead of recognising a difference in communication style.

The study also highlights the issue of employers treating workplace accommodations for autistic women as an “individual problem” rather than as an organisational responsibility.

Accommodations such as additional quiet space led to the manager of one autistic woman to be wary, less open and trusting of her.

Sandra, another autistic woman, requested for quiet time.

Her manager misinterpreted this accommodation as complete isolation away from her workplace colleagues.

Many report that they were underemployed and had better qualifications than the job they were in.

Their workplace colleagues also misinterpret their need for rest or conserving energy as being lazy or unwilling to participate.


_________________
Professionally Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity

“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman


Joe90
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 23 Feb 2010
Gender: Female
Posts: 24,325
Location: UK

14 Mar 2022, 1:12 pm

I've never faced these sexist expectations at work before.


_________________
Female
Aged 32

Diagnosed with ADHD
Have Anxiety Disorder
Diagnosed with mild ASD but I don't identify as autistic


SharonB
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 14 Jul 2019
Gender: Female
Posts: 2,347

14 Mar 2022, 9:38 pm

Agreed. Once my ASD BFF and I started to rise, we were put down. She was sent to a Communications class and I got stuck in the Cinderella box. It really gets my goat that I became a company-wide respected expert and yet I could not achieve the level my ASD male peers did. It really gets my goat to see the many professional achievements of the ASD or ND male alumni of my prestigious schools --- and not a single ASD or ND female alumna is close.

My ASD mom used to complain about this when I was young and I didn't get it. Now near 50, I Get It. It's horrible. I can look back now on the 30 years of my career and see it all clicking into place. Each little "correction" I received, all the well meant "advice" I was given...

Joe, you are either in a progressive workplace, you don't have any power yet and/or are appropriately socialized already. It's when I took an online test which indicated I had significant male bias (internalized!) that I started to recognize the behaviors and actions in others and myself.

What to do... what to do... I've half thought of starting my own company, but women face significant obstacles there also. I want to apply this wisdom.



Fireblossom
Veteran
Veteran

Joined: 18 Jan 2017
Gender: Female
Posts: 3,471

15 Mar 2022, 11:02 am

Not exactly news for me, but maybe something will actually be done about it when there's an actual research...?

...Yeah right.



Mona Pereth
Veteran
Veteran

Joined: 11 Sep 2018
Gender: Female
Posts: 5,835
Location: New York City (Queens)

16 Mar 2022, 5:27 pm

Fireblossom wrote:
Not exactly news for me, but maybe something will actually be done about it when there's an actual research...?

...Yeah right.

Research alone won't change this. Political pressure might help. Hopefully there are some feminist organizations in the U.K. that can be contacted about this?

Anyhow, the article first appeared here, on a website called Neurodiversity Media.

The latter website, alas, is hard to read by anyone with even a slight visual impairment, including probably almost anyone over age 40. It's one of those annoying websites that uses a pale gray font on a slightly paler gray background. I just now sent the website owner an email asking them to consider changing this.


_________________
- Autistic in NYC - Resources and new ideas for the autistic adult community in the New York City metro area.
- Autistic peer-led groups (via text-based chat, currently) led or facilitated by members of the Autistic Peer Leadership Group.
- My Twitter (new as of 2021)


Mona Pereth
Veteran
Veteran

Joined: 11 Sep 2018
Gender: Female
Posts: 5,835
Location: New York City (Queens)

16 Mar 2022, 6:06 pm

Joe90 wrote:
I've never faced these sexist expectations at work before.

Perhaps the specific issues mentioned here are just not relevant to your line of work? The issues mentioned here are more likely to come up in the kinds of work that require lots of communication, e.g. office work.


_________________
- Autistic in NYC - Resources and new ideas for the autistic adult community in the New York City metro area.
- Autistic peer-led groups (via text-based chat, currently) led or facilitated by members of the Autistic Peer Leadership Group.
- My Twitter (new as of 2021)


SharonB
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 14 Jul 2019
Gender: Female
Posts: 2,347

17 Mar 2022, 2:26 pm

Mona Pereth wrote:
...The issues mentioned here are more likely to come up in the kinds of work that require lots of communication, e.g. office work.

Once I the pattern recognition clicked for me, I see it everywhere, with impact to varied degrees. The recent book "Machiavelli for Women" talks about many of these communication "hot boxes" (not too nice, not nice enough) negatively impact women regardless of neurotype. Although the "not too much, not too little" does seem to be more an ASD thing. My ASD mom faced it in computers (she's now in customer service - more appropriate for women :twisted: ), my ND sister faced it as an admin in construction (she's now in childcare - more appropriate for women :twisted: ), I faced it in technical sales (I'm now a part of the SheCession - more appropriate for women :twisted: ), my BFF faced it in county government (she's now in state gov't where it's manageable for women :| ), I could go on a long time. My ASD niece recently confronted a disciplinarian at her high school about multiple issues - if she were male it would not have been an issue ("boys will be boys") and if she were cis-NT it would not have been an issue (she'd know better than to violate the gender rules). Like any woman, many ASD women are "pushed" towards traditionally female roles, resisting that cumulative riptide or embracing "women's work" is not for the faint of ASD heart.



Ettina
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 13 Jan 2011
Age: 33
Gender: Female
Posts: 3,966

18 Mar 2022, 10:52 am

I remember this one guy talking about how eye opening it was when he and his female coworker traded email accounts and pretended to be each other for awhile. The double standard was obvious to him after that.



SharonB
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 14 Jul 2019
Gender: Female
Posts: 2,347

18 Mar 2022, 10:31 pm

Ettina, coincidentally or not, a similar situation is in the book I mentioned. The burden of proof is ours. It's also eye-opening when transgendered women talk about their before and after experiences.



Mona Pereth
Veteran
Veteran

Joined: 11 Sep 2018
Gender: Female
Posts: 5,835
Location: New York City (Queens)

17 Apr 2022, 2:52 am

Have things actually gotten WORSE in this regard, during the past few decades, I wonder? Or has there been any improvement?

Personally, I'm so obviously a gender-nonconforming woman, as well as an all-around weirdo, that I would never have gotten hired, in the first place, in any workplace where gender conformity was deemed to be important. Also, my social life has generally revolved around subcultures in which a variety of gender presentations were accepted.

These facts have probably insulated me from many of the sexist pressures a lot of women face -- although I still occasionally encounter some of the usual sexist annoyances, like random men on the street telling me to "smile!"


_________________
- Autistic in NYC - Resources and new ideas for the autistic adult community in the New York City metro area.
- Autistic peer-led groups (via text-based chat, currently) led or facilitated by members of the Autistic Peer Leadership Group.
- My Twitter (new as of 2021)


SharonB
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 14 Jul 2019
Gender: Female
Posts: 2,347

20 Apr 2022, 7:20 am

Now that you mention it, I recall that I have heard multiple times that around the 90s workplace progress stopped for women. When I consult Ms Google, I find current Times articles and the like about just that. Here's one link that doesn't have a pay wall... (I am not familiar with the source, but the article looks good): https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.1918891117

The "Segregation of Fields of Study" is of interest to me. I know people who didn't pursue their non-gender-appropriate fields. For men this usually means sacrificing their passion - for women it usually means sacrificing their passion and pay. Men in traditionally "female" jobs earn less than men in "male" jobs (but more than their female peers); women in traditionally "male" jobs earn more than women in "female" jobs (but less than their male peers). Mostly our culture takes this for granted and refuses to see it ("that's just the way it is"). You've seen this meme?

Image


Another link for it: https://twitter.com/evelynfigs/status/1 ... 1314674690



Fireblossom
Veteran
Veteran

Joined: 18 Jan 2017
Gender: Female
Posts: 3,471

20 Apr 2022, 12:51 pm

SharonB wrote:
Mostly our culture takes this for granted and refuses to see it ("that's just the way it is"). You've seen this meme?

Image


Another link for it: https://twitter.com/evelynfigs/status/1 ... 1314674690


Yep, seen it. Glass ceiling.



SharonB
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 14 Jul 2019
Gender: Female
Posts: 2,347

20 Apr 2022, 8:48 pm

Which is a cumulation of the glass entry and glass progress. Ok, those aren't real terms, but when I hit the ceiling, I could see how a lifetime of "glassiness" led to it. Love that meme. Gets me every time (initially my breath catches) even though I know the punch line (release).



H_Taterz
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker

Joined: 23 Mar 2022
Age: 45
Gender: Female
Posts: 69

19 Jun 2022, 8:40 pm

I worked for state government for 8 years and this happened to me. It was funny because I talked like "one of the guys" and yet none of the men were disciplined for how they behaved.
At least three of the older women complained that I wasn't fitting in (e.g. not gossiping, not sitting with them at lunch, and also playing video games on break - it made them uncomfortable). I had an exemplary work record; however, because of their mean-girl tactics, my position wasn't renewed.

It was fortunate that I absolutely hated my last position (new office) and had just started the process of updating my resume. Instead of quitting and getting nothing, I got severance pay and unemployment instead. If they would have more patient, I would have quit within the next few weeks anyway. :lol:
Although it worked out in my favor, it left a bitter taste in my mouth about working with older women in the future.
At the same time, it made me realize how different I am. My mantra was I was getting paid to do a job, not make friends. Apparently, that's an okay phrase for men to use, but not us women.

I've legitimately considered masking my gender. Changing my name to something more gender-neutral... cutting my hair and sporting button-up shirts to "fit in more."
I'm not discounting anyone's personal struggles when talking about being transgender (I'm not always good at articulating things), but it's been my experience in more progressive/blue states where LGBTQIA+ are widely accepted that even the more masculine presenting females in the office workspace are treated better than just the awkward ones. When you're just the weird girl with no other explanation, it makes people uneasy; however, if I look like AND act like a guy, I might not attract as much negative attention.



SharonB wrote:
Agreed. Once my ASD BFF and I started to rise, we were put down. She was sent to a Communications class and I got stuck in the Cinderella box. It really gets my goat that I became a company-wide respected expert and yet I could not achieve the level my ASD male peers did. It really gets my goat to see the many professional achievements of the ASD or ND male alumni of my prestigious schools --- and not a single ASD or ND female alumna is close.
My ASD mom used to complain about this when I was young and I didn't get it...



Pteranomom
Deinonychus
Deinonychus

Joined: 21 Apr 2022
Age: 39
Gender: Female
Posts: 345

20 Jun 2022, 1:33 am

I don't work, and when I did it was retail, so no email. But I have definitely found that men and women tend to have different communication styles, which leads to internet strangers assuming that I am male. I have more trouble communicating with NT women because they use a lot of emotions in their writing and assume that I am upset with them if I do not. Over the years I have learned to tailor my style to my audience, but it takes effort.



orbweaver
Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

User avatar

Joined: 12 Jun 2022
Age: 49
Gender: Female
Posts: 157
Location: NorCal

21 Jun 2022, 5:48 pm

H_Taterz wrote:
I worked for state government for 8 years and this happened to me. It was funny because I talked like "one of the guys" and yet none of the men were disciplined for how they behaved.
At least three of the older women complained that I wasn't fitting in (e.g. not gossiping, not sitting with them at lunch, and also playing video games on break - it made them uncomfortable). I had an exemplary work record; however, because of their mean-girl tactics, my position wasn't renewed.

It was fortunate that I absolutely hated my last position (new office) and had just started the process of updating my resume. Instead of quitting and getting nothing, I got severance pay and unemployment instead. If they would have more patient, I would have quit within the next few weeks anyway. :lol:
Although it worked out in my favor, it left a bitter taste in my mouth about working with older women in the future.
At the same time, it made me realize how different I am. My mantra was I was getting paid to do a job, not make friends. Apparently, that's an okay phrase for men to use, but not us women.

I've legitimately considered masking my gender. Changing my name to something more gender-neutral... cutting my hair and sporting button-up shirts to "fit in more."
I'm not discounting anyone's personal struggles when talking about being transgender (I'm not always good at articulating things), but it's been my experience in more progressive/blue states where LGBTQIA+ are widely accepted that even the more masculine presenting females in the office workspace are treated better than just the awkward ones. When you're just the weird girl with no other explanation, it makes people uneasy; however, if I look like AND act like a guy, I might not attract as much negative attention.



SharonB wrote:
Agreed. Once my ASD BFF and I started to rise, we were put down. She was sent to a Communications class and I got stuck in the Cinderella box. It really gets my goat that I became a company-wide respected expert and yet I could not achieve the level my ASD male peers did. It really gets my goat to see the many professional achievements of the ASD or ND male alumni of my prestigious schools --- and not a single ASD or ND female alumna is close.
My ASD mom used to complain about this when I was young and I didn't get it...


I relate to this. I got by, socially, by passing as gay since people assumed I was gay anyway. For a long time, being bisexual anyway and dating mostly LGBT-identified people anyway (until my present partner, a cis het dude), I was "gay by choice" because I didn't want to move in the world as a heterosexual woman, and had managed to create a world that was mostly LGBT people anyway. Being more masc in presentation, or at least people taking me for a lesbian, actually made it so that their commenting on my autistic stuff was now hate speech, and NT women stopped policing me as much. It was a low effort masking strategy. It kept NT women from interacting in particular dynamics with me in workplace settings, I kept finding I wasn't *allowed* to opt out of a lot of NT normie female social ritual stuff if I was taken for cis het.

I have felt very gender neutral all my life, and strongly relate to the whole concept of autigender.


_________________
"A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us." - Franz Kafka

ASD (dx. 2004, Asperger's Syndrome) + ADHD