SEASON 2: EPISODE 18
ADHD is commonly associated with children and men yet over 6 million women in the U.S. have been diagnosed with ADHD and it’s estimated that 4 million more live undiagnosed. On this episode, Amber speaks with disability advocate, Margaux Joffe to discuss the unique challenges facing women with ADHD.
A letter: Amber reads a letter from a community member — a middle aged woman who shares her experiences with ADHD. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is characterized by difficulty with regulation of attention, executive function and working memory. It is commonly associated with children and men yet 6 million adult women live with ADHD. Because it presents differently in women, 50-75% go undiagnosed leaving many feeling misunderstood, confused and alone.
Amber sat down with Margaux Joffe, Associate Director of Accessibility & Inclusion at Verizon Media and founder of Kaleidoscope Society, a community for women with ADHD, to talk about the data, stigma and changing narrative for all the brilliant women out there, living with ADHD.
The diagnostic: Margaux shares how she lived with undiagnosed ADHD until she was 29 years old. And her experience is painfully common. The 50-75% of women who go undiagnosed have become a lost generation — often facing the negative impact of living undiagnosed in isolation. The consequences range from higher rates of eating disorders, low self-esteem, substance abuse and incarceration. Margaux couldn’t find any resources for adult women so she built a community for women with ADHD.
Kaleidoscope Society: Margaux founded Kaleidoscope Society in 2015 to provide an empowering platform for women with ADHD. The site includes curated content, resources, interviews and expert advice for (and from) women with ADHD.
Society’s rules: ADHD manifests differently in different spaces. From our school systems to the workplace, gender constructs shape how our culture views women and men’s roles. This narrow perspective can create more barriers for girls and women with ADHD. For example, Steve Job’s erratic behavior is rationalized as part of his genius but a woman who shares the same level of intensity would be viewed differently, often negatively. Margaux talks about how the clash of expectations can have devastating consequences on people with ADHD, including higher rates of incarceration.
ADHD at work: Margaux shares insights into how an ADHD diagnosis can be empowering for women because it allows them to own their story, understand their minds more deeply, and ultimately, seek life experiences that are most aligned with their purpose. Margaux shares a book that was influential throughout her journey “The Gift of Adult ADHD” by Laura Honos-Webb, Ph.D.
Getting there: Margaux reflects on how she came to her own diagnostic which began as a little girl — how she couldn’t sit still, forgot homework assignments, and experienced anxiety and depression in her teens. She originally believed that the issue was related to her creativity, but she always knew she was different.
Changing the language: There is no such thing as a normal brain; human brains are diverse and everyone is different. At Kaleidoscope Society, Margaux focuses on changing the way people view ADHD. Having a disability is not a deficit. Learning personal strengths and understanding how their minds work can lead women with ADHD (and everyone, really) to great success.
Community & Companies: Since launching Kaleidoscope Society, the response from the community continues to pour forth. Margaux receives emails every week from women thanking her for creating a space where they can find support and purpose. Margaux talks about how important it is that companies create spaces that support their employees with ERG groups.
The Disability Collection: Margaux’s latest project is to expand society’s understanding of people with disabilities. About 20% of the population is disabled, but they are featured in less than 2% of the images we see in the media. Since a great deal of creative production relies on stock imagery, lack of diversity is an obstacle to making inclusive choices. As Associate Director of Accessibility & Inclusion at Verizon Media, Marguax facilitated a collaboration with Verizon Media, Getty Images and the National Disability Alliance to generate more inclusive images. Together, they created The Disability Collection, a set of stock images that reflect the lives and diversity of people with disabilities. These images are now available on Getty Images for anyone, anywhere in the world, to use.
Margaux Joffe is an award-winning producer and Associate Director of Accessibility & Inclusion at Verizon Media, a global media company that reaches over 1 billion people around the world with brands such as Yahoo, Aol, Huffpost, Tumblr, TechCrunch, and MAKERS.
In 2018, she spearheaded The Disability Collection, a landmark partnership between Verizon Media, The National Disability Leadership Alliance and Getty Images to change the representation of people with disabilities in the media.
Margaux also serves as the founder and Global Lead of Verizon Media's Neurodiversity Employee Resource Group, a group dedicated to empowering “minds of all kinds,” and a first of its kind in any Fortune 500 company.
Prior to joining Verizon Media, Margaux launched the first of its kind platform for adult women with ADHD called "Kaleidoscope Society," featured by Teen Vogue, VICE, Popsugar, the International Conference on ADHD.
Margaux holds a B.A. from Duke University and is trained in documentary storytelling as a tool for social change.
Connect with Margaux at:
Twitter: @margauxjoffe, @adhdwomen, @verizonmedia
Margaux Joffe, Kaleidoscope Society, Verizon Media
TONL, a diversity stock photos
Getty images and Verizon media, The Disability Collection
Understood.org for parents: https://www.understood.org/en
Produced by: Kai-Saun Anderson
Music by: Podington Bear - Soft Driver and Rope Swing, Aitua - Wings II Animato
Background photo by: Thomas Somme