Nancy Doyle headshotWeAreTechWomen speaks to Dr Nancy Doyle, Occupational Psychologist & CEO, Genius Within about her career.

Nancy is also one of our speakers at our upcoming virtual tech conference, Disrupt. Innovate. Lead. on 26 June. Nancy is holding a session on neurodiversity in tech, which will look at the full range of talents associated with neurodiversity and how considering competencies could open up untapped talent within an organisation.

Dr Nancy Doyle is a Registered Occupational Psychologist and the CEO of Genius Within CIC, a non-profit who specialize in neurodiversity inclusion at work. Genius Within works with thousands of businesses each year, many in tech and finance, exploring inclusion at the individual and company wide levels, advising on the legal, human and relational aspects of inclusion. Nancy was the driving force and lead presenter for Employable Me/The Employables, a now worldwide documentary on the BBC/A&E exploring the hidden talents of individuals with autism, Tourette Syndrome and a wide range of disabilities. Nancy undertakes many voluntary advisory committee roles, including with the British Psychological Society, UK government bodies and international labor events and is a leading researcher in neurodiversity, a Fellow of the University of London (Birkbeck).

WeAreTechWomen, the Technology arm of WeAreTheCity is excited to introduce its first ever global virtual conference, Disrupt. Innovate. Lead. This unique learning experience is aimed at individuals working in technology who would like broaden their industry knowledge, learn new skills and benefit from the thought leadership of some of the brightest minds in the tech industry.

Can you tell us a little about your background? Where you’ve come from, where you’ve worked, how you got to where you are today?

I am a Registered Occupational Psychology, PhD specialising in neurodiversity at work.  I’ve worked in social inclusion all my life – disability support, unemployment – I’ve always been a geek about people working at their best, how we all have abilities and value, and that when we are in the right context, when it ‘fits’ you get ‘flow’.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, but I’ve always thought it was important to do due diligence to your craft. Many early personal and professional experiences led me to question traditional psychology approaches, but in order to understand how to fix the problem I studied psychology. I can now advocate for the talent aspects of neurodiversity competently and from a position of expertise as opposed to shouting from the sidelines. The science of neurodiversity is changing and evolving, I am happy to be part of that within a well-regulated profession, developing the right evidence based and applying rigor and integrity to this niche field.

What inspired you to get involved with motivational speaking?

I’m not really interested in motivational speaking, I’m interest in engaging people into my area of interest and my passion! Our society has become inefficient and is missing the opportunity to benefit from neurodiverse thinking, as a result too many people are cast aside and are devalued. Its annoying and we are changing it. Giving talks is one part of that process.

Do you have a favourite experience from your career?

Passing my PhD Viva with no corrections from my examiners. It’s up there with becoming a parent and marrying the love of my life. It was the culmination of so much hard work and energy, the icing on the cake, the validation of what I had spent 20 years experiencing, exploring, researching. It felt like getting to the top of the mountain and discovering a bright sunny day where I could see the whole landscape, and just breathing the fresh air.

What do you think WeAreTechWomen guests will gain from your talk?

Hopefully some ideas about how to move forward with the neurodiversity paradigm. Neurodiversity has become a buzzword, a token, a compelling idea that people want to understand more about. We’re seeing pilot projects here and there but we’re yet to see systematic changes to the way we incorporate neurodiversity, and we’re missing a lot of “how to” information. There’s a lot of amateurism in the field, which is legally risky as neurominority individuals are eligible for disability protection in most advanced economies. I’d like people to come away feeling inspired to embrace a more diverse talent pool, understanding the intersectional implications and the professional expertise required to make the shiny ideas into serious organizational strategies.

What are your top 3 tips for success?

  • Always meet your deadlines and when you occasionally err, apologize profusely – no matter who you are engaging with (customers, boss, staff).
  • Follow what engages your heart but lead with training your mind – if your next career move is worth it, then having the right qualifications, supervision and expertise will edify you.
  • Never discount the worth of any job, no matter how seemingly irrelevant. Working as a personal care worker for adults with physical and learning disabilities may not seem grand in the context of my career, but it was pivotal to inspiring my drive for systemic inclusion and I have spent 20 years learning how to improve workplaces such that a wider range of humans can take part in our economy.

What has been your biggest challenge during your career?

Learning to self-reference and chose my advisors. Many women are inculcated into people pleasing stereotypes, we often need the approval of others to make decisions and feel confident. This is not the same as seeking consensus which is a strength, it’s more toxic than that, and involves being submissive to rejection or disagreement, and not being able to hold a line. This can be compounded by intersectional experiences of disability, race, sexuality. My journey to CEO was accidental – my business was originally an extension of private consultative practice – so being continually overpromoted as it grew was a steep learning curve. I had to learn the hard way that not everyone is authentic and that you can give your power away by capitulating to people who are projecting their failures onto you. Confidence grows by seeing solid results, as well as choosing wise counsel and steady mentors who are not engaged for their own egos.

Which female role models are you most inspired by?

Debbie Harry, Reese Witherspoon, Hillary Clinton, Dr Virginia Schein, Professor Denise Rousseau, Professor Almuth McDowall. Bold women who believe that ambition is not a dirty word.

In your opinion, what is the biggest obstacle for women at work and how can it be overcome?

Pseudoscientific quackery about female and male brains. Read Prof. Gina Rippon’s book the Gendered Brain. As long as we are believing ourselves to be passengers in a brain that will dampen ambition, courage, boldness, directness or assign these traits to “behaving like men” we will lessen our trajectories. Compassion doesn’t have to be the expense of strength, you can be decisive at the same time as empathetic. There’s no such thing as ‘male leadership’ or ‘female leadership’, there’s just the skills required for the job and a whole bunch of gendered cheese about women who self-advocate and men who would prefer to be present at their kids’ bedtime.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

So many things! Too hard to stick to one! I guess in a work context I would encourage male parents to be visible, talk about their kids, role model leaving work on time and being vocal about that to inspire each other.

What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

You are more right than you give yourself credit for, but you are wise to diligently keep challenging and checking your assumptions. Choose your advisors for their deeds and track records, not their flattery and words.