I'm not a researcher, sociologist, or graduate student. I am an HR professional with a focus on Diversity and Inclusion with expertise in coaching, mentoring and tech recruiting. I am also a professional who has worked my entire career with two Invisible Disabilities (ID): depression and anxiety.
According to the CDC, "In 2014 [it was] found that 27.4% of women ages 18-64 identified with a disability in some form (compared to 20.8% of men in the same age range)." And while the rest of society has visible clues to indicate some disabilities, there is a large faction (sometimes estimated as high as 74% of all disabilities) that are invisible, unseen. These IDs are a compelling subject that needs study.
Earlier this year I was interviewing a group of professional women with a variety of IDs in anticipation of submitting a speaker's proposal to Anita Borg Institute's Grace Hopper Conference (the preeminent conference for women in tech). While the reviewers of my proposal had positive comments, their main constructive feedback was:
"Before reading this submission, I was not familiar with the term ID and would guess other attendees would also need more insight into what it is and more details on the mental illnesses that might be considered IDs."
This complete lack of awareness and understanding of the term ID indicated a glaring need to expand the conversation.
The goal of this project is to expand the pool of input directly from professional women who are carrying on successful—albeit challenged—careers with any ID. The first step in increasing awareness of diverse experiences in the workplace is for individuals to self identify about their ID (though most will not have used this term and many may not have seen themselves as part of this group).
The next step will be to tell some of these stories.
Questions? Comments? Please reach out to me (Jes) directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
*all images are from: https://migraine.com/infographic/18-things-not-to-say* https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/2015/042.pdf