Which job/industry do you work in and what do you love and/or loathe about it?
I am a higher education (HE) accounting graduate teaching assistant (and accounting PhD student). I’m new to my role, however, what I love about my job is, it gives me the opportunity to work with and teach a diverse range of individuals. This has always been something very intriguing to me, to be able to learn from an array of narratives and opinions of thinking. As humans, we are all very different and have much to learn from each other.
Have you always wanted to work in your industry?
Yes and no. When I was younger I always wanted to be a teacher, though I never thought I would be teaching at the university level. I never thought in my life I would have the opportunity to apply to do a PhD let alone actually do a PhD! I’ve grown to really enjoy academia and hope to support women like myself who come back to higher education later in life. I’m looking forward to this next step as a PhD student and HE educator!
Does it feel like a good 'fit' for you as a neurodivergent woman?
Personally, I don’t think we should limit ourselves by saying “good fit” or “bad fit” when it comes to jobs/industry as neurodivergent women. If you have passion for a certain job and it feels right, go for it! Employers should be willing to support you in your role regardless (which can also make your experience easier). Passion, support, resilience, adaptability and motivation will get you through.
Any anecdotes that you feel might be insightful?
To be honest, when I first received my formal diagnosis that I was Dyslexic, I had a mix of emotions. I was 28 at the time. On one hand, I felt a slight sense of relief, that finally after all this time I now knew why I found things like math easy and spelling and grammar difficult. On the other hand, though, I felt ashamed and very worried.
The sense of shame came from society’s perception of individuals with Dyslexia. All I ever heard growing up was “dyslexics are stupid” “they can’t do this, they can’t do that”. I was in my third year at university studying accountancy and finance and I remember thinking “am I ever going to get a job after my degree, will I be accepted within a workplace as a Dyslexic, what’s the point in continuing?”.
The day that I received my diagnosis, I went home and cried.
I realised something later that evening though and this is what kept me going in achieving my first class honours degree. The realisation was that I had achieved so much without a formal diagnosis or any help. From the age of 14, I was assisting with the bookkeeping and administration work for my family’s business. I had also facilitated and at times led teams in a number of charity projects I was involved in.
At that moment I also had the thought, “I’m not going to allow being Neurodivergent to limit me in what I want to achieve in my life”. I always wanted to have an education and be financially independent. So it was about learning to use that as a motivation to really drive me.
Being a Muslim, my faith and my spirituality is a big part of my life, so that was an element that really keep me going as well, “God had gotten me this far, why would He leave now?”
We shouldn’t ever underestimate the impact of representation. I look back on my life, I never saw or had a Muslim or Pakistani Neurodivgent woman to look up to or learn from her experiences. We have to change this for the next generation so that we are diverse and inclusive of all cultural backgrounds.