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Equity vs. Equality: The Key Differences and Examples

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Equity refers to fairness and justice in the distribution of resources or opportunities, while equality refers to equal treatment or distribution without considering individual differences or needs.

We will delve into what equity and equality mean, why it matters, and how we can work towards achieving both.

Equity vs. Equality

Equity refers to the concept of fairness, justice, and impartiality in the distribution of resources, opportunities, or benefits, taking into consideration individual differences, needs, and circumstances.Equality, on the other hand, refers to the principle of treating everyone the same and distributing resources or opportunities in an equal manner, without considering individual differences or needs.
Equity focuses on addressing systemic or structural disparities and providing targeted interventions or adjustments to overcome inequality or injustice. It recognizes that different individuals or groups may require different levels of support or accommodations to achieve equitable outcomes.Equality, on the other hand, focuses on providing the same treatment or distribution to everyone, regardless of individual differences, and assumes that everyone has the same starting point and needs. It may not address systemic or structural disparities that can perpetuate inequality.
Achieving equity may require intentional measures such as affirmative action, targeted policies, or accommodations to address historical or systemic disadvantages, and ensure that everyone has equal opportunities to succeed.Achieving equality may involve providing equal resources, opportunities, or benefits to everyone, without considering individual differences or needs, and treating everyone in a uniform manner. It may not address existing disparities or ensure equitable outcomes for all individuals or groups.
An example of equity could be implementing a scholarship program that provides additional financial support to students from low-income backgrounds to ensure they have the same access to educational opportunities as students from higher-income backgrounds.An example of equality could be distributing the same amount of funds to all students for educational resources, without considering their individual financial needs, which may not address the disparities faced by students from low-income backgrounds.

Introduction to equity and equality

Equity and equality are two important concepts often discussed in the context of social justice and fairness. While they might seem similar at first glance, they have distinct meanings and implications.

Equality means treating everyone the same regardless of their individual differences. It aims to ensure that everyone has equal access to opportunities, resources, and benefits, regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity, religion, or other characteristics.

For example, in a classroom setting, equality would mean that all students have the same textbooks, the same access to technology, and the same amount of time with the teacher, regardless of their individual needs or abilities.

On the other hand, equity means ensuring that everyone has access to the resources and opportunities they need to achieve their full potential, taking into account their individual differences and the historical and systemic barriers that may have prevented them from doing so. Equity recognizes that not everyone starts from the same place and that some people may need additional support to reach the same level of success as others.

For example, in a classroom setting, equity would mean that students with learning disabilities would receive additional resources and support to help them learn at the same pace as their peers without disabilities.

Equality is a necessary but not sufficient condition for equity. To achieve true equity, we must go beyond mere equality and work to eliminate barriers that prevent people from achieving their full potential.

Examples of equity and equality in society

Equality: All employees are given the same salary regardless of their roles or responsibilities in a company. This is an example of equality because everyone is treated the same. However, this may not be fair because some employees may have more experience, education, or responsibilities than others, which should be reflected in their pay.

Equity: In a school, students with learning disabilities are provided with additional resources and support to help them learn at the same pace as their peers without disabilities. This is an example of equity because it recognizes that some students need additional support to achieve the same level of success as their peers.

In another example, suppose a group of individuals is tasked with picking apples from a tree, but some of them are much taller than others. The same size ladder can be given to all individuals to promote equality. However, this may not be fair since those who are shorter may not be able to reach the apples at the top. Instead, to promote equity, shorter individuals can be given a longer ladder or a step stool, so they have the same opportunity to reach the apples as taller individuals.

Benefits of pursuing equity over equality

There are several reasons why equity is a more effective approach than equality when it comes to achieving social justice. First, equality does not take into account the fact that some groups have been systematically disadvantaged in our society.

For example, women and people of color have been historically discriminated against in areas like education and employment. As a result, they often start out at a disadvantage when compared to white men. Providing everyone with the same resources will not close these kinds of disparities.

Second, even if everyone does start out with the same resources, they will not necessarily have equal outcomes. This is because different groups have different needs. For example, women may need access to quality child care in order to succeed in the workforce. People of color may need assistance with things like housing or transportation to get to jobs or schools in predominantly white neighborhoods. Taking into account these different needs ensures that everyone has a fair chance at success.

Key differences between equity and equality

Imagine two kids trying to get over a fence. One kid is tall and can easily make it over without help. The other kid is shorter and needs a boost to get over. Providing them both with a stool would be equality – giving them each the same thing, even though one doesn’t need it. Providing the shorter kid with a stool and the taller kid with nothing would be equity – giving them each what they need to succeed.

In society, equality is often envisioned as “everyone gets a trophy” – everyone gets the same things, regardless of whether or not they actually need them or how hard they worked for them. Equity, on the other hand, aims to close gaps in opportunity and achievement by providing different levels of support based on individual need.

There are many factors that can contribute to inequitable outcomes, including race, ethnicity, gender identity, income level, disability status, etc. To create a more equitable society, we must first recognize these disparities and work to correct them.

Difference between equity and equality

Challenges to achieving equity

There are a number of challenges to achieving equity. One is the lack of understanding of the term itself. Equity is often confused with equality, which simply means giving everyone the same thing. However, equity takes into account individual differences and tries to level the playing field so that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.

Another challenge is that achieving equity can be costly. It may require additional resources such as financial aid, tutoring, or specialized programs. Some people may view this as unfair and argue that everyone should have to work hard and pull themselves up by their bootstraps without any help.

Additionally, there is often resistance to change and those in power may not be willing to give up their privilege. Those who have benefited from the current system may not want to see it changed because it would mean they would no longer have an advantage over others.

Despite these challenges, it is important to strive for equity in our society so that everyone has a fair chance at success.


To sum up, understanding the distinction between equity and equality is essential in order to create a society that works for everyone. Equality under the law provides everyone with an equal opportunity to succeed, while equity ensures that those who might have been disadvantaged by birth or circumstance get the support they need to live their best lives. Let us all strive towards creating a world where we can look beyond surface-level differences and truly embrace one another’s humanity.

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