A Few Definitions
BIAS: A preference or an inclination, especially one that inhibits impartial judgment; the conscious and subconscious processing of information. The subconscious attitudes and behaviors are referred to as implicit bias (Bless, Fiedler, & Strack, 2004).
DIVERSITY: The wide variety of shared and different personal and group characteristics among human beings. The presence of diversity indicates generally that many people with many differences are present in a group, organization, or institution (Adams et al., 2013).
EQUITY: The quality or state of being fair and just. Whereas equality is concerned with the idea or theory that we should all be treated the same in terms of opportunities, equity accounts for context—including needs and the barriers that make those opportunities unequal. Equitable approaches, policies, and practices may make accommodations for differences so that the outcomes are fair and just in practice (Adams et al., 2013).
INCLUSION: The act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate (Wlodkowski & Ginsberg, 1995).
INCLUSIVE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT: A setting with more collaborative and connected modes of learning-ones that acknowledge personal experience, examine the relationships between persons and ideas, and encourage students to work together to produce knowledge. Establishing a classroom tone that is friendly, caring, and supportive, and that lets students explore the relationship between course material and personal and social experiences enhances, rather than undermines, students’ learning (Wlodkowski & Ginsberg, 1995).
MICROAGGRESSIONS: The everyday slights, indignities, put-downs and insults that people of color, women, LBGTQ+ populations and other marginalized people experience in their day-to-day interactions. Can appear to be a compliment but contain a “metacommunication” or hidden insult to the target groups to which it is delivered. They are often outside the level of conscious awareness of the perpetrator, which means they can be unintentional. These messages may be sent verbally (“you speak good English”), nonverbally (clutching one’s purse more tightly) or environmentally (symbols like the confederate flag or using American Indian mascots) (Sue, 2010).
STEREOTYPE: Set of overgeneralized beliefs (traits, behaviors, and motives) about members of a social group (Allport, 1954).
STEREOTYPE THREAT: The social-psychological threat that arises when one is in a situation or doing something for which a negative stereotype about one’s group applies. This predicament threatens one with being negatively stereotyped, with being judged or treated stereotypically, or with the prospect of conforming to the stereotype. It is a situational threat—a threat in the air—that, in general form, can affect the members of any group about whom a negative stereotype exists. Where bad stereotypes about these groups apply, members of these groups can fear being reduced to that stereotype. And for those who identify with the domain to which the stereotype is relevant, this predicament can be self-threatening (Steele, 1997).