10 minutes

Video on Equity versus Equality

Published on
February 4, 2024
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Staff Writer

Are equity and equality the same thing?

Today, we are talking about equity and equality, but you might be wondering, wait, aren't these the same thing they look the same. They sound similar. So aren't they the same? No, in fact, they're really different concepts, even though a lot of us get the two confused. So let's break them down. You probably already know what we mean.

Same but different

When we say equality, we're talking about two things that are the same, or have a similar value. When we treat two people or two groups of people equally, we make sure that they have, or get the same things. For example, if I wanna give Betty some apples, then I need to give Ben the same number of apples to treat them with equality.

Along the same lines. If I wanna give the nursing program a budget increase, then I need to make sure that I give the culinary arts program, the same budget increase to treat them with equality. That makes sense. But that's not the same thing. As equity equity can be defined as giving everyone what they need to be successful.

In other words, it's not giving everyone the exact same. And here's where the difference between equity and equality really come in, because it's important to remember that if we give everyone the exact same thing, expecting that we'll make people equal, it assumes that everyone started out in the same place.

An example

So here's an example. In this instance, we give everyone the exact same box. We treat them with equality so that they can see over the fence. Well, that's great for the person on the left because they were already taller, but it's not so great for the person on the right who still can't see over the fence from an equity perspective.

We wouldn't want everyone to have the same size box because everyone isn't the same height to start out. With an equity mindset, we would get everyone what they need to raise them up to the same level. Here's another example with equality in mind, we can treat everyone the same and give them all the same bike, but that doesn't really help the person on the left who can't ride that kind of bike or the person in the middle that is too small for that.

A situation with equity

So when we think about this situation with equity in mind, equity tells us that we need to give everybody a different kind of bike so they can all enjoy a bike ride. As you might guess, this is where the concept of fairness gets tricky. For some folks, we often think that being fair means that everybody gets the same thing.

On fairness

And that's what we were taught when we were growing up. But fairness really only works when we're all the same to start out. So this is a new idea for many of us to think about. There is this great American saying that people just need to work hard enough and pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

It's this idea that everyone can be successful if you just work hard enough? Well, that's a lot easier to do when some of us were born with longer arms to pull up those bootstraps, or maybe we were given longer bootstraps when we bought our boots. So let's think about moving away from the bootstrapped idea.

Shoes, equality, and equity

And instead think about shoes. There is a quote by NEHI Dasani that goes equality is giving everyone a shoe, but equity is giving everyone a shoe that fits.

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