9 in 10 neurodivergent employees report burnout in tech sector


90% of female neurodivergent employees are experiencing burnout in the tech sector, according to the latest research by social enterprise Code First Girls. 

In the UK alone, there are 5 million people who consider themselves to be neurodivergent – but only 120,000 have been formally diagnosed. This is a particular issue for women – where many are misdiagnosed with anxiety or borderline personality disorder (BPD) – as 8 in 10 autistic women remain undiagnosed at age 18. On average, autistic boys will receive a diagnosis by age 7. 

In Code First Girls’ community, 27% identify as neurodiverse – though almost half admit that they have not made their employer aware, with 52% stating that they were not comfortable doing so. 

For those who are neurodiverse, workplace environments can be unrelenting – with many opting out altogether. According to the Office for National Statistics, only 22% of autistic adults in the UK are in any kind of paid work. 

Some key barriers the research identified in the workplace for neurodiverse people include small talk and office politics, sensory stimuli (such as background noise, bright lights and strong odours), time management and unannounced meetings. 

Commenting on the latest stats, Anna Brailsford, CEO of Code First Girls said: “For the neurodiverse, the workplace can be a challenging environment to navigate – and employers must be mindful of the risk of burnout. 

“Neurodiverse employees are highly creative, passionate,  spot patterns where others can’t. They can spend long periods of time in hyperfocus – but need the support from employers to be able to work at their best. 

“Flexible working, assistive tech, training and mentorship can all help neurodiverse individuals thrive. Diversity is a benefit, and a real competitive advantage that will pay dividends now and in the future.”

Imane Ziouche, Code First Girls’ community member and Junior Software Engineer at FindMyPast, said: “ADHD exacerbates my feelings of imposter syndrome … I find myself questioning my competence and worth, which can be a significant mental and emotional challenge.”

Boo Jenkinson, Project Manager at TalkTalk added: “Sometimes I need to be around people, sometimes I need quiet space. Flexibility means I can work with my struggles and avoid problems building, which leads to burnout.”

Chris Price