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Equality vs. Equity

wwnGuadalupe

By Guadalupe Torres

Equality and equity are two concepts that are commonly heard of in the United States. In many occasions these can be topics that are difficult and/or uncomfortable to discuss for some people, but nevertheless they are important to speak about. I grew up learning that equality meant treating everyone the same – everyone having the same opportunities. This definition of equality sounded great, but then I came to realize that in order for there to be equality, everyone has to start from the same place and receive the same opportunities regardless of their background. However, here in the United States, not everyone started from the same place. Many face several disadvantages making it difficult to achieve their goals and, for some, to live a decent life. These disadvantages show instances when equity becomes important.

Equity focuses on providing everyone with the same opportunities in order to improve their situation. Unlike equality, equity acknowledges that not everyone started from the same place; there are some people that need more resources to reach the same position as others who had more opportunities, or, in other words, those who started ahead.  Below, you can find an image that I really like and it clearly illustrates the difference between equality and equity.

equality vs equityHere in the United States, women have many disadvantages compared to men. Wages are one example, as a woman working in the same position as a man is usually paid less.  This goes further when we are speaking about women of color. When their wages are compared to white women, they earn even less, which means that they would have to work more in order to achieve the same economic gains as white women and even more to earn the same as men.

Another example is public education in the United States. Schools receive funds based on property taxes (based on the community they are located in), which means that there will be schools that will earn more than others. They will have more and better resources and more experienced teachers. On the other hand, schools that are not located in wealthy communities lack resources and do not have experienced teachers. The majority of students at these schools are from low income families and/or students of color. It is also really common that teachers at these schools do not see the potential in the students just because of, but not limited to, race and class. In this case, many students are not receiving the equal education that they deserve and, unfortunately, this continues throughout their public and higher education.

In order for there to be equality everyone has to start from the same position and have the same opportunities. If equality is desired, equity should be introduced. By introducing equity, those who are at a disadvantages regardless of what their situation might be will be provided with the resources necessary to acquire a more decent life that they deserve, along with a possibility in obtaining equality.

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