The multiple studies also show that when it comes to autistic people, participants were perceived autistic women more positively and more socially desirable and were more willing to hang out with them than they were to autistic men. IN FACT, participants perceived neurotypical women more positively and as more socially desirable and were more willing to hang out with them compared to neurotypical men. This was true even when controlling for camouflaging, a technique some autistic people might do to conceal their autism, which autistic women do more than autistic men. Researchers concluded that it’s possible the results are caused by a protective female effect, where simply being female makes people stigmatize autistic women less or make them more willing to talk to autistic women than talk to autistic men.
>Prior research has shown that less favourable first impressions are formed of autistic adults by non-autistic observers. Autistic females may present differently to autistic males and could engage in more camouflaging behaviours, which could affect these first impressions. However, research has not yet tested for gender differences in the first impressions of autistic adults. In the current study, non-autistic observers viewed either 10-sec video clips or text transcripts in the context of a mock job interview by 10 autistic females and 10 autistic males, matched to 10 non-autistic females and 10 non-autistic males. They then rated each stimulus on personality traits and behavioural intentions . Non-autistic observers were blind to diagnostic status of the individuals in either modality. Results showed that first impressions were less favourable overall of autistic adults in the video modality. Furthermore, autistic females were rated more favourably than autistic males in the video modality across most traits—but autistic females were also rated less favourably than both non-autistic females and males. Some judgements were also made in the text modality, whereby more favourable first impressions were made of autistic males on the basis of speech content.
>In total, 53 males and 74 females were recruited; one male was transgender and categorised according to their identified gender. Participants were aged 18 to 40 years . They were required to have no ASC, or any uncorrected visual or hearing impairments, and to speak English as their first language. These criteria ensured the participant-raters were similar to the participants being observed in terms of age and cultural background.
20 autistic women , 20 autistic men , 20 NT women and 20 NT men were rated by participants.
10 autistic men and 10 autistic women and 10 NT men and 10 NT women were stimuli participants to be rated and observant participants were 167 women , and 38 men with a mean age of 20.58 . In the video modality, there were 89 females and 20 males with a mean age of 20.46 years, and in the text modality, there were 78 females and 18 males with a mean age of 20.71 years. Gender of observer was controlled for in all analyses. 28 participants reported that they had a family member with an autism diagnosis, and none had a diagnosis of autism themselves. It seems like text is an easy way to seem neurotypical or pass for neurotypical, so no differences are found in people’s perceptions when it comes to text speech.
15 autistic girls , 25 autistic boys , 25 autistic girls , and 28 autistic boys were matched on IQ. Participants completed a 5-minute “get-to- know-you” conversation with a new young adult acquaintance. Immediately after the conversation, confederates rated participants on a variety of dimensions. Our primary analysis compared conversation ratings between groups . The confederates were 18 college women and 3 college men.
Results: Autistic girls were rated more positively than autistic boys by novel conversation partners , despite comparable autism symptom severity as rated by expert clinicians . Boys with ASD were rated more negatively than typical boys and typical girls by novel conversation partners as well as expert clinicians. There was no significant difference in the first impressions made by autistic girls compared to typical girls during conversations with a novel conversation partner, but autistic girls were rated lower than typical girls by expert clinicians.
>The current study makes a unique contribution in understanding how gender influences first impressions. Although autistic females were rated more favourably than autistic males across most traits, they were rated less favourably than non-autistic females and non-autistic males across numerous traits. While some prior research has reported no gender differences in camouflaging behaviour , Lai et al. argue that autistic females may camouflage with greater success than autistic males. However, the current findings do not necessarily support this hypothesis. Rather, they suggest that autistic females do have a differ- ent social presentation to autistic males, and because non-autistic females were also rated more positively than non-autistic males, there could be a “protective female effect” rather than camouflaging effect. This protective effect may relate to socialisation or biological differences that prompt the perceiver to view females more positively. Although males and females are more similar than they are different on psychological variables, Hyde discusses how assumptions are often made about gender which impacts on outcomes, from the workplace to relationships. Gendered expectations could bias the perceptions of the social abilities of autistic indi- viduals, which may further relate to camouflaging . Simply presenting as female could promote positive first impressions, but perceivers are still sensitive to autistic differences in social presentation. Interestingly, autistic females in our sample had higher RAADS scores than autistic males, indicative of more autistic characteristics. Despite this, the autistic females were perceived more positively than autistic males. Thus, we cannot rule out that autistic females were camouflaging their autistic characteristics to a greater extent. It should be noted, however, that the current study did not measure the camouflaging strategies of the stimuli participants, which future research should do to further test camouflaging efficacy. Since autistic females were still negatively judged in comparison to non-autistic females and males, any camouflaging strategies undertaken by autistic females do not necessarily translate into more positive first impressions. It may also be the case that autistic males camouflage but are not as skilled in doing so, which could contribute to more negative first impressions. Nonetheless, in terms of effect sizes, some of the biggest differences were noted between autistic females and non-autistic females, suggesting that negative first impressions of autistic females remain to be substantial.
Being autistic definitely makes people less willing to hang out with you or perceive you more negatively, but although people perceive autistic women less positively than neurotypical men/women and are less willing to hang out with them, they were not as stigmatized as autistic men. They were only slightly less interested in hanging out with autistic women compared to neurotypical men but the least likely, by a long shot, to hang out with autistic men or perceive autistic men as desirable. Autistic women are not as stigmatized as autistic men. Just look up autistic girl vs guy memes to see what I mean. Autistic women are seen as maybe quirky but intriguing, but autistic men are treated like freaks.