Diversity includes all the ways in which people differ, and it encompasses all the different
characteristics that make one individual or group different from another. It is all-inclusive
and recognizes everyone and every group as part of the diversity that should be valued.
A broad definition includes not only race, ethnicity, and gender — the groups that
most often come to mind when the term "diversity" is used — but also age, national
origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education,
marital status, language, and physical appearance. It also involves different ideas,
perspectives, and values.
Inclusion is the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel
welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. An inclusive and
welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for
What are some key terms?
Race : A race is a human population that is believed to be distinct in some way from other
humans based on real or imagined physical differences. An individual is usually externally classified (meaning someone else
makes the classification) but individual may also self-identify with a particular
Ethnicity : Ethnic (adj.): Of or related to a particular race, nationality, language, religion
or cultural heritage. “Ethnic” in the context of the U.S., has also come to represent
concepts, characteristics or cultural values and norms that are not typical of persons
of white/European ancestry.
Gender : refers to the attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that a given culture associates
with a person’s biological sex. Behavior that is compatible with cultural expectations
is referred to as gender-normative; behaviors that are viewed as incompatible with
these expectations constitute gender non-conformity.
Gender Identity : refers to “one’s sense of oneself as male, female, or transgender” (American Psychological
Association, 2006). When one’s gender identity and biological sex are not congruent,
the individual may identify as transsexual or as another transgender category.
Sexual Orientation : Sexual orientation is the deep-seated direction of one's sexual (erotic) attraction
toward the same gender, opposite gender, or other genders. It is on a continuum and
not a set of absolute categories. Sometimes it is referred to as "affection orientation."
Age : The amount of time during which a person or animal has lived.
Social Class : A social class is a group of people of similar status, commonly sharing comparable
levels of power and wealth.
Physical ability or attributes : the ability to perform some physical act.
Religion : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and
National Origin : refers to a person's, or his or her ancestor's, country of birth or because a person
has physical, cultural or linguistic characteristics of a national origin group.
Political Beliefs : . . . . . a political ideology is a certain ethical set of ideals, principles,
doctrines, myths or symbols of a social movement, institution, class, and/or large
group that explains how society should work, and offers some political and cultural
blueprint for a certain social order.
Culture : the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time.
Multiculturalism : is an acknowledgment that, as people, we are culturally diverse and multifaceted,
and a process through which the sharing and transforming of cultural experiences allow
us to re-articulate and redefine new spaces, possibilities, and positions for ourselves
Privilege : a right, license, or exemption from duty or liability granted as a special benefit,
advantage, or favor.
Ally : A person of one social identity group who stands up in support of members of another
group; typically member of dominant group standing group standing beside member(s)
of targeted group; e.g., a male arguing for equal pay for women.
Historically Underrepresented : "Historically underrepresented" is a limited term that refers to groups who have
been denied access and/or suffered past institutional discrimination in the United
States and, according to the Census and other federal measuring tools, includes African
Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics or Chicanos/Latinos, and Native Americans. This
is revealed by an imbalance in the representation of different groups in common pursuits
such as education, jobs, housing, etc., resulting in marginalization for some groups
and individuals and not for others, relative to the number of individuals who are
members of the population involved.
Other groups in the United States have been marginalized and are currently underrepresented. These groups may include but are not limited to other ethnicities, adult learners, veterans, people with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, different religious groups, and different economic backgrounds.
Bias: Prejudice; an inclination or preference, especially one that interferes with impartial
Stereotype : Blanket beliefs and expectations about members of certain groups that present an
oversimplified opinion, prejudiced attitude, or uncritical judgment. They go beyond
necessary and useful categorizations and generalizations in that they are typically
negative, are based on little information, and are highly generalized.
Prejudice : A preconceived judgment about a person or group of people; usually indicating negative
Discrimination : Actions, based on conscious or unconscious prejudice, which favor one group over
others in the provision of goods, services, or opportunities.
Assimilation : The policy and practice of repression, domination and erasure by which marginalized
cultures are merged into the dominant or mainstream culture.