Dr Alison Callwood

Surrey academic wins ‘Woman in Innovation’ award for tackling bias against neurodivergent people


On International Women’s Day Surrey University announce a prize winner among its female academics.

Online technologies to help neurodivergent people successfully enter the workforce are being developed at the University of Surrey, led by Dr Alison Callwood, in a project that has seen her win one of Innovate UK’s ‘Women in Innovation’ awards. 

 The Generating Neurodiverse Inclusion Selection (GENIUS) project will explore what communication methods and personalisation options could be used to optimise access and performance in online interviews and assessments for those with neurodiverse conditions such as autism, ADHD, and dyslexia.  

Dr Alison Callwood, GENUIS project lead and Senior Lecturer in Integrated Care at the University of Surrey, said:  

“Approximately 15 to 20 per cent of the UK population is neurodivergent. The unfairness they experience in the recruitment field is unjustified. Tackling this issue will not only improve the working lives of neurodivergent people by unlocking the valuable contribution they can make, but it will also boost the economy by helping address the rising number of unfilled positions in the workforce. 

“I am delighted to receive this award which includes a £50,000 grant. The support it offers is invaluable to this project.” 

This project will build on previous work by Dr Callwood who has developed the successful interview tool SAMMI which reduces bias and provides robust, reliable, and cost-efficient interviews and assessments for employers.  

Helping to further the project, the funding awarded to Dr Callwood will give her access to tailored business coaching, mentoring and a wide range of networking and training opportunities designed to help grow this innovative project.  

Professor Paul Townsend, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, said:  

 “Congratulations to Alison on winning this award. Being one of only 50 recipients of this prize, shows the strength of her project and her hard work and dedication in this field. Her skills and the diversity of her career are valued greatly here at Surrey, and I am proud to have her in our team.” 

 Indro Mukerjee, CEO, Innovate UK, the United Kingdom’s innovation agency,  

“We are proud to support this group of trailblazing women who are changing the world through the power of their ideas. Their innovations underpin solutions inspired by societal and environment challenges, as well as their own lived experiences. I hope their stories will encourage and inspire others to follow their lead.” 

© 2021-2022. No content may be copied without the permission of Epsom and Ewell Times Ltd.