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Equity vs Equality

This graphic shows the difference between equality and equity. An adult, a teen and a child are apple picking. All are given one box to assist them, but only the adult is tall enough now to reach an apple. Nothing changes for the teen or the child, who still can’t reach the apple. Each person received equal resources, but since they were starting from different places, they are still not able to participate equally. Now, let’s provide additional boxes to meet their needs. When we give two boxes to the teen and three to the child, everyone can participate equally. Equity is about seeing everyone’s starting place, and dividing up resources to allow equal participation or opportunity.

You might have heard the terms "equity" and "equality", but might not know how the two are different.

Sometimes differences in our economic, ethnic or cultural backgrounds create barriers to participation. While we want to treat everyone equally, we also need to understand that equality doesn't always translate to fairness or equal opportunity. Equity recognizes that our world is not a level playing field.

For instance, "equality" is giving every member of a baseball team a bat and ball; "equity" is making sure each member knows how to play baseball and has transportation to games. Giving everyone equal resources does not ensure an outcome where everyone is equal.

We must first ensure equity before we can enjoy real equality.

Recognizing equity and equality can seem overwhelming, but don't worry about addressing every inequity at once – the most important step is starting to recognize where inequity occurs for students. And there's no reason for you to explore other backgrounds and perspectives alone. Disability Services is here to help, so don't hesitate to get in touch if you'd like to know more. Visit the DSS website to find out more about equality, equity and resources for students.