Examining the gender role in workplace experiences among employed adults with autism: Evidence from an online community Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • BACKGROUND: Despite the fact that poor employment outcomes of adults with autism was evident in literature, little attention was paid to the role of gender in shaping their labor market experiences. Recent research emphasizes the critical need for such an investigation to inform gender-specific vocational support and workplace accommodation. OBJECTIVE: This exploratory study investigated the gender-based differences among employed adults with autism about both types and severity of the challenges they face in the workplace. METHODS: The study drew on qualitative content analysis of 714 randomly sampled posts (357 by women and 357 by men) from an online autism forum to explore on-the-job challenges as voiced by individuals with autism. RESULTS: The overarching observation was that women were more likely to experience greater workplace challenges. Women expressed higher concerns related to workplace stress, social interaction, and interpersonal communication. Additionally, women were disadvantaged by gender-related office expectations, especially about appearance. Men revealed a higher struggle with deficiencies in executive functions and disclosing their disability. Over-stimulating the physical environment influenced the workplace wellbeing of both women and men. CONCLUSION: Gender-sensitive vocational approaches in addition to flexible, communicative, structured, and supportive management behavior are needed to improve the workplace experiences of adults with autism.

publication date

  • July 7, 2021