The terms “equality” and “equity” come up regularly in conversations about social issues. The rights of racial minorities, women, LGBTQ+ communities, disabled individuals, and more depend on the interpretation and use of these terms in laws and policies. These terms are often used interchangeably, but this mistake can have real-life implications.
Equality refers to the uniform distribution of a good or service to everyone. In other words, each person receives the same amount of whatever commodity is being distributed, regardless of their individual circumstances.
Equity, on the other hand, refers to a proportional distribution of goods and services based on individual need. Those who start with less are given more of the commodity, while those who have more receive less of it.
Basically, both equity and equality have the shared goal of fairness, but differ on exactly how that fairness can be accomplished. The below resources will help introduce these concepts to students, and give them the opportunity to apply them to real life situations.
- This short slide deck gives a quick intro to the topic and helps get the conversation started.
- This animated video helps explain the topic, teaches its history and philosophy, and discusses real-life implications.
- Real-life application: This College Admissions task force activity asks students to reform the admissions policies at the USA’s top universities. Students are asked to think about the fairest admission system possible.
- Related topic: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Use this slide deck to introduce this important topic and explore how it relates to the equity vs equality discussion.
- Take it a step further: Identify an area of your community where systemic inequalities or inequities exist. Write a letter to an elected official explaining the issue and suggesting ways to fix it. Here’s a great template for crafting a letter to an official.