"Always a glass ceiling." Gender or autism; the barrier to occupational inclusion

Susan M. Hayward*, Keith R. McVilly, Mark A. Stokes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Under- and unemployment adversely affect the economic, health, and social circumstances of people with autism; notably those with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder or high autistic traits (HATs). However, little research has been published comparing the experiences of women to men with HATs, and women without autism (i.e., those typically developing; TD) to ascertain if employment issues are a function of gender or autistic traits (ATs).

Method: An anonymous online survey was conducted attracting 28 women and 18 men with HATs aged 18-68 years (M = 38.63, SD = 13.12), with a further 21 TD women and 16 TD men aged 23-62 years (M = 38.38, SD = 10.32). Quantitative data were analysed via logistic regression to ascertain the extent to which employment issues were a function of gender or ATs while controlling for confounding variables such as education, and age. Qualitative data were analysed using inductive thematic analysis, then quantitatively using chi-square or Fisher's Exact Test.

Results: It was found that ATs, not gender, was significant to most vocational experiences.

Conclusions: It is proposed that employers place greater importance on technical ability than social-communication skills when hiring and supervising women with HATs to reduce barriers and increase workplace diversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-60
Number of pages11
JournalResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • ASD
  • Asperger's
  • Female
  • Job
  • Sex
  • Work


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