Autism spectrum demographic in tech


Maybe I missed something but it looks like there is no study on diversity in tech that includes quantitative measures of the demographics of people in the autism spectrum. I looked for 30 minutes and found nothing.

In the general population, the proportion is around 1%. What is the percentage in tech? And in Free Software communities?

There are articles such as the one from Monster:

that mention initiatives from very large companies. For instance:

The Microsoft Autism Hiring Program launched in April 2015, with a goal of hiring people with autism for full-time positions. The company partnered with PROVAIL and Specialisterne, two firms that assist with job training and support for people with an autism spectrum disorder, and the immediate response to the announcement was overwhelming. Microsoft received thousands of emails, more than 700 resumes and countless phone calls, as well as simple messages of thanks for creating such an initiative.

Nearly a year later, they’ve hired 11 new people full-time and have extended the program to the United Kingdom, where they’ll be seeking to make 10 new hires.

In proportion of the number of people employed by Microsoft in 2015, that does not seem to be a success. Any job position in tech where there are 700 applicants for 11 positions would even be considered highly competitive.

Other articles suggest that autistic workers can strive in the tech industry but do not provide links to quantitative studies:

And a study conducted by the Journal of Abnormal Psychology suggests that people with autism have a greater than normal capacity for processing information and are better able to identify ‘critical’ information. The study also suggests that the ability is an underlying reason for the higher than average number of autistic workers in the IT industry.


In general a broader category to use, which includes autism spectrum but also people with e.g. ADHD, is designing for people who are “neurodiverse”. I have the impression it is a rather new field that is hence not taken into account in most IT projects thus far. We had a conversation in Humane Tech Community where our member Birdie gave some input on it.

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