definition of gender equity

avril chalmers (
Wed, 23 Oct 1996 17:22:54 -0700

An important distinction needs to be made between equity and equality.
Equality emphasizes treating people the same. However, treating people the
same doesn't accommodate significant differences which may affect the
outcomes of "equal" treatment. Theoretically, girls in schools have the
same access to courses and school programs as boys. However, some courses
continue to have an imbalance of female to male students. Where courses are
seen to be 'masculine' or predominantly filled with boys and male
instructors, the environment is not conducive to girls feeling comfortable,
encouraged, having instruction which reflects their experiences/points of
view, getting the level of attention and access to equipment which they
need. Where conditions do not take into account the differences in people,
'equal' treatment tends to default to the unequal status quo.

Equity, then, would recognize difference and accommodate it in order to
prevent the continuation of inequitable status quo. e.g. Girls still
predominating in Office Procedures and boys in Automotive, with
corresponding discrepancies in relative pay. Equity emphasizes fairness in
process and outcome, and does not presume a hypothetical ideal and
undifferentiated individual. Simple 'equality' as a concept does not
recognize the very different conditions under which people attempt to live
and work in society, the prejudices, the failures to take into account the
obstacles which others face, the subtle and gross ways in which people are
rendered invisible, silent or outsiders.

Avril Chalmers

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