Neurodiversity: A Hidden Asset in the Tech Industry

Neurodiversity represented by a multi-colored brain image

Neurodivergency is fairly common, with an estimated 15-20% of the population considered to be divergent. These individuals thrive in tech, and could be the industry’s secret superpower.

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The tech industry thrives on innovation, creativity, and out-of-the-box thinking. These are precisely the qualities that a significant portion of the population possesses, though as a whole they are often overlooked and misunderstood: neurodivergent individuals. While distinct in their individual experiences, these individuals share valuable traits that can – and have – propel the tech industry forward.

Times are changing though, and there are more companies each year championing neurodivergent individuals in tech – companies like Specialisterne that are committed to tapping into the talents of neurodivergent professionals and supporting businesses to hire people who think and communicate differently.

More Than a Label: Understanding Neurodiversity

An estimated 15-20% of the population is considered neurodivergent, defined by variations in brain function and information processing. Neurodiversity includes both neurotypical conditions and neurodivergent conditions, the latter displaying a range of conditions from dyslexia, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism.

Neurodiversity challenges the notion of “typical,” emphasizing the richness and diversity of the human experience and that different neurological configurations bring unique strengths and perspectives. 

“Every neurodivergent person is unique and brings unique strengths to their workplace. Some common strengths that neurodivergent people may bring to a technical role include creativity, flexibility, and outside-the-box thinking,” Gillian Forth, Workplace Support Manager with Specialisterne says. “They may have strong observational skills and attention to detail, the ability to stay focused for long periods of time, an excellent ability to recognize patterns, and excellent math skills.”

Thinking Outside the Binary

While every individual is different, neurodivergent tech professionals offer a distinct set of skills highly relevant to careers in the field.

Diverse Perspectives

The diverse thinking patterns associated with neurodivergence can lead to innovative solutions and approaches to challenges that neurotypical individuals might overlook. Neurodivergent professionals conceptualize problems differently, challenge assumptions that are taken for granted, and often come up with unconventional yet groundbreaking solutions that aren’t readily apparent.

“A neurodiverse workplace that includes neurodivergent people and neurotypical people is beneficial for everyone,” Forth says, “as it invites different perspectives and ways of approaching the work.”

Creativity and Innovation

Many neurodivergent individuals possess exceptional creativity. Their ability to think outside the box is invaluable in developing cutting-edge technology, designing user-friendly interfaces, and finding creative solutions to complex problems. This imaginative spark can be seen in groundbreaking inventions, elegant code, and captivating user experiences. 

What’s more, these individuals often challenge established conventions and – in environments where they feel supported and are encouraged to take risks – can produce incredibly innovative new solutions to sticky challenges. 

Attention to Detail

A hallmark of many neurodivergent individuals is meticulous attention to detail and the ability to hyperfocus on interesting tasks. 

“Every neurodivergent person is different,”  Louis Casanave (he/him), a neurodivergent Flatiron grad working as a Data Analyst with Molina Healthcare says, “but the biggest strength I see in our community is our special interests – our passions. That one thing we can be endlessly curious about.”

Should a neurodivergent individual’s special interest overlap with their work, it becomes a perfect match for roles requiring precision and extended focus, like software development, data analysis, and quality assurance. This keen eye ensures quality, catches minute errors, and safeguards against safety vulnerabilities.

Dedication and Loyalty

Finally, neurodivergent individuals often demonstrate high levels of dedication and loyalty. When placed in supportive environments that embrace their unique needs and strengths, they become highly committed and productive team members. In fact, increased inclusivity and support in recent years are making tech a place that neurodivergent individuals want to be. 

A neurodivergent individual’s passion for their work shines through in their meticulousness, innovative thinking, and unwavering commitment to excellence.

Bridging the Gap To Build an Inclusive Industry

Despite these inherent strengths, misconceptions about neurodivergent individuals persist. These often stem from a lack of understanding and awareness, leading to biases and discriminatory practices in recruitment and workplace interactions. Fortunately, organizations can bridge this gap by implementing inclusive practices.

Culture Monkey, an HR company championing inclusive workplaces, suggests various strategies to combat harmful stereotypes. These include awareness training for employees, neurodiversity hiring programs, and fostering flexible work arrangements that cater to individual needs.

Companies like Specialisterne are also advocating for hiring practices that foster neuro-diverse workplaces. “Utilizing a more skills-based approach versus education or years of experience when considering neurodivergent candidates for your tech roles is always great,” Amber Skinner (she/her), a neurodivergent Inclusion Specialist with Specialisterne says. “Providing flexibility in work schedule as well as work location is always beneficial so things like offering remote or hybrid options.”

By providing inclusive environments and celebrating neurodiversity, the tech industry can unlock a vast pool of talent and reap the benefits of unique perspectives and valuable skills. From innovative solutions to exceptional detail-oriented work, neurodivergent individuals represent a hidden asset waiting to be fully recognized and empowered. Embracing neurodiversity is not just the right thing to do, it’s a strategic move that can propel the tech industry to even greater heights.

The Neurodivergent Path To Tech

If you’re a neurodivergent individual hoping to land a role in tech, we encourage you to connect with available resources and organizations like Specialisterne to support you along your journey. While the path for neurodivergent individuals in tech is still being paved, taking advantage of companies there to champion your success will shorten the path to where you want to be – thriving in a neuro-inclusive environment in tech. 

“Neurodivergent people should consider a career in tech because it gives us a way to meet our needs,” Sascha Kala (she/they), a neurodivergent Flatiron grad working as an Infrastructure Engineer with Spreedly says. “As tech increasingly becomes an inclusive space, it affords us to take care of ourselves financially.” 

If you need to acquire some new (or additional) technical skills before making the jump to tech, explore our free courses to dip your toe into the material and test-drive the info that’s covered in Flatiron School courses. 

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is current as of February 23, 2024. Current policies, offerings, procedures, and programs may differ.

About Anna Van Deusen

Anna Van Deusen is the Marketing Content Manager at Flatiron School. When not writing about tech and Flatiron School students, she can be found hanging out with her dogs on a beach…

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