From the Founder's Own Words
Yes, there's a story behind Autistic Women's Alliance...
Carrie Hall, August 2023
I remember being hired at my current company through their neurodiversity program in 2015, and I have had great mentors throughout my career. They have a great mentoring program, but I felt it was very limited in some ways. It was limited for two reasons: mentors were neurotypicals and only offered mentoring with social issues (they weren't involved with career mentoring).
It wasn't until I ran an autistic women's group at work that I realized why. This group consisted of autistic women as well as neurotypical allies. The group was small and helpful, but I always felt something was missing. Some of my neurotypical colleagues volunteered to serve as mentors for autistic women in the group, and while they were well-meaning, they didn't have the perspective we needed to learn to be successful as professional autistic women.
I remember asking a few neurotypical colleagues about the "Let's do lunch" thing that women say to each other (my biggest pet peeve). As a literal thinker, I thought that when someone said, "Let's do lunch," they meant they wanted to set up a time to have lunch with me. This was a little/small thing that caused friction for me in the workplace, and I was confused as to why.
This is when advice from neurotypicals missed the mark. When I asked my neurotypical colleagues about this, I was told that "Let's do lunch" is another way of saying, "See you around," that's all the advice I received.
The advice was very different from a few autistic colleagues; they suggested that the next time this happens, I should call that person on it. That advice was a huge game changer for me; I could ask that person what they meant by "Let's do lunch."
Since then, when someone says that to me, I now ask them, "Oh, do you mean 'see you around,' or do you want to have lunch later?" That person's usually more than happy to clarify, and usually, their answer ends up as "I meant, see you around." This advice moved mountains for me like a huge light bulb went off above my head.
This is why I started the Autistic Women's Alliance. Now, we're a 501(c3) autistic run non-profit with 500+ members around the globe.