Implicit Biases by Managers and peers in the Cultural sector - are autistic employees at a disadvantage?

02/03/2020
Research

Clore Fellow Hayley Williams-Hindle's AHRC research looks at implicit biases by managers and peers in the Cultural sector towards individuals with autism.

Adults with autism have very low rates of full time employment, despite the majority expressing interest in working full time. However, little is currently known about the possible barriers which lead to the lower rates of obtaining and maintaining employment for those with autism. One potential barrier are biases towards autism and people with autism, although this is thought to vary based on the sector of employment. The present study investigated implicit and explicit bias of people working in the cultural sector towards fellow cultural sector autistic employees. A total of 102 cultural sector workers were recruited and completed various measures of both implicit and explicit bias online as well as a measure of the degree of autistic traits. Tasks included measuring participants' affective and cognitive attitudes towards a peer displaying characteristics of autism spectrum condition (ASC) in a written vignette with three conditions; autistic, no label and typical worker. Results indicated implicit bias against autism, and significantly higher negative explicit bias towards a fellow employee labelled as autistic. There was also a gender effect: males showed a greater negative bias towards the employee labelled autistic. Together the results show that implicit and explicit biases towards autism and autistic employees exist in workers within the cultural sector, which may contribute to lower employment rates.

Hayley Williams-Hindle spent the first half of her career in venue and events management. Following her Clore Fellowship year (Clore 15) she is now spending time as a researcher, writer, artist and coach. A qualified Brain and Behaviour change practitioner, coach and ‘TRE’ practitioner (somatic practice for trauma and stress relief); these three disciplines work together in complement in her practice with clients and artistic expression. Her work explores the neuroscience of human behaviour and relating with a particular interest in supporting the wellbeing of autistic and other neurodiverse adults in the Cultural workplace.