Enabling NeuroDiverse Inclusive Science Careers (ENDISC) was funded by the Natural and Environmental Sciences Research Council, which aimed to improve the inclusion of early career disabled and neurodivergent researchers based in natural and environmental sciences.
Existing research shows that neurodivergent early-career researchers (PhD to postdoc, postdoc to the first lectureship) lack career opportunities due to inadequate means of engagement and inaccessible laboratories, office space and field work sites.
Led by an interdisciplinary research team at Heriot-Watt University (Principal Investigator: Professor Kate Sang, Co-Investigators: Dr David Woolf, Professor Teresa Fernandes, Dr Clayton Magill, Postdoctoral Research Associates: Dr Lena Wånggren, Dr Cat Morgan and Project Manager: Ms Fenella Watson), ENDISC performed a rapid evidence review, distributed and analysed a survey, conducted focus groups, and interviewed neurodivergent researchers to co-design recommendations for employers and funders to create neurodivergent inclusive research cultures.
Our data showed the most significant barrier is the academic workplace culture, which lacks understanding of and support for neurodivergent scientists. The most concerning finding was that 37% of early-career researchers surveyed indicated they had considered leaving academia and that 73% had not requested any adjustments due to this culture.
ENDISC recommends that institutions foster a culture of openness, inclusion, and support for neurodivergent employees; clearly communicate rights and responsibilities, including mandatory adjustments and job role expectations; allow greater flexibility for work schedules and location, including private office space.