ADHD: The Gender Issue and Girls

For many years, it was widely assumed that only boys and men could have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD.) However, research on ADHD and gender has shown otherwise. Although ADHD is not as common in females as in males (the ratio is estimated to be about 3 males to every 1 female), it does affect girls and women. ADHD just tends to look a bit different in girls and women. That is what  often makes it tougher to spot and treat.


Generally speaking, females with ADHD are less disruptive than males with ADHD. As a result, they call less attention to themselves. Girls and women with ADHD also tend to be less hyperactive and impulsive than their male counterparts. However, they often have more challenges with inattention.

For example, in a classroom setting, girls with ADHD may look as though they are paying attention because they are sitting quietly. When in fact they are actually daydreaming. These same girls may even make it successfully through high school, college, grad school and into the workplace before they discover they have ADHD.


The costs of undiagnosed and untreated ADHD in women are clear. Despite being deemed “successful,” they often suffer from chronic underachievement, frustration, disorganization and relationship difficulties.

Authors like Sari Solden, Kathleen Nadeau and Patricia Quinn have all written excellent books about women and girls who have ADHD.


At The Hallowell Centers, we are always up-to-date on the latest research findings in the ADHD field; including gender. We offer a wide array of testing/assessment tools and treatment modalities, all conveniently located under one roof, to help diagnose and treat ADHD and other cognitive emotional conditions that get in the way of your path to success.

“Females with ADHD are less disruptive, so they call less attention to themselves. Girls and women with ADHD also tend to be less hyperactive and impulsive than their male counterparts, but often have more challenges with inattention.”

Women and girls with ADHD face a number of unique issues in dealing with their “race car brains.” In this episode of Distraction Podcast, Terry Matlen, ACSW, who specializes in helping women with ADHD, joins Dr. Hallowell to answer questions from our female listeners. Topics  include pregnancy and medication, hormones, exercise, toxic relationships, social isolation and much more.

A special thank you to our listeners who sent in questions for this episode! If you have a question or show idea please send it to

Click here to read Dr. Hallowell’s interview in Fatherly on gender, inattentive ADHD and how it affects girls.

If you think you or someone you know may have ADHD, click here to learn how The Hallowell Centers can help.

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