That's not to say that women today don't face any struggles or challenges to overcome. The gendered stereotype of ADHD that favors earlier diagnosis of male patients with overtly hyperactive symptoms is just one example of the ways in which the needs of women have been overlooked historically. That has led to many women with ADHD being undiagnosed or undertreated, which makes it harder for them to find happiness, fulfillment, and success.
To celebrate Women's History Month, we want to showcase the amazing accomplishments of women with ADHD. Learn more about some of the inspiring contributions that have been made by these women to see how ADHD doesn't have to hold you back from feeling empowered and may even help you make history.
Gymnast Simone Biles has been open about her mental health. She famously disclosed some of her personal struggles in taking a break from gymnastics during the Tokyo Olympics, and she has discussed her journey as a sexual abuse survivor. In addition, she has disclosed her ADHD diagnosis and treatment. In 2016, Biles tweeted: "Having ADHD, and taking medicine for it is nothing to be ashamed of nothing that I'm afraid to let people know."
Clearly, her ADHD has not held her back from making some of the most momentous achievements to her sport. She is the most decorated U.S. women's gymnast of all time with 25 World medals and seven Olympic medals. She was TIME's 2021 Athlete of the Year and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2022. But just as important as her athletic achievements are the way she has improved the conversation around mental health, including her discussion of ADHD diagnosis as well as her advocacy as a survivor of sexual abuse.
Journalist Lisa Ling has been an intrepid reporter for years, and her stories have shined a light on many people who are often overlooked in news stories. Her commitment to truth in journalism has earned her a number of impressive accolades and awards.
While pursuing a story on the rise of ADHD in 2014, Ling made a surprising discovery. The more she learned about the disorder, the more she recognized the symptoms in herself. Ling was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 40, and it helped her to develop coping strategies now that she could understand her symptoms related to attention. In addition, Ling’s diagnosis also helped her recognize the value of her tendency to hyperfocus on the things she is passionate about, which has undoubtedly served her well throughout an adventurous career in journalism.
While business consultant Caitlin D’Aprano may not be a household name the way Biles and Ling are, her contributions to the world are no less inspiring. D’Aprano is the founder of WillPowered Woman, an organization that assists women suffering from domestic violence and abuse. The goal of WillPowered Woman is to empower women who are struggling with these issues through encouragement and tangible support.
The story behind the organization is a personal one. D’Aprano is a survivor of intimate partner abuse herself, and she found herself in need of services that weren't readily available to her at the time. Through her ADHD diagnosis in 2015, D’Aprano gained a fresh perspective, and she uses the creative aspects of her ADHD to help her as a business consultant. It also allowed her to treat herself with the same kindness that she gives to those working with WillPowered Woman.
Many women can relate to the story of Katherine Ellison. This Pulitzer Prize-winning author realized she likely had the disorder after her son's diagnosis, a story which is increasingly common among mothers. Because she didn't receive her diagnosis until age 48, she was able to look back on many instances in her life in which ADHD was likely a factor — including a careless reporting mistake which led to an $11 million libel lawsuit.
Ellison has written multiple books about ADHD, including Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention and ADHD: What Everyone Needs to Know. She is a trailblazer in bringing light to the experience of living with ADHD and has become a leading voice in the conversation about women with the disorder.
Studies have found that adult women are three times less likely than males to receive an ADHD diagnosis, and 50% to 75% of adult women with the disorder are undiagnosed until adulthood. If you think you may have ADHD, Done is here to help by assisting with diagnosis and treatment. We're also committed to spreading the word about inspiring people with ADHD to remind you that this disorder doesn't mean you can't lead a life full of adventure, achievement, and happiness.