Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI)

AAUW is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our mission is gender equity, but the forces and impact of intersectionality make it clear that equity for one cannot exist without equity for all. Our branch strives to bring this understanding into our programs, our scholarships, and our membership.

Defining important terms and concepts helps us communicate, which helps us develop a common understanding and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Diversity, Inclusion, & Belonging. Our goal.

  • Diversity(“variety”)—refers to the characteristics that make people unique
  • Inclusion—refers to the behaviors and cultural norms that make people feel welcome
  • Belonging—refers to an individual’s sense of acceptance

Equality & Equity. These are not the same.

  • Equality—providing everyone with identical access
  • Equity—providing everyone with the access they need in order to reach an equal outcome

Intersectionality.  This is one of AAUW’s core values.

  • Intersectionality—the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine and compound each other

Microgression & Intent vs Impact. Know how you are being heard.

  • Microaggression—a comment or gesture (made intentionally or not) that feeds into stereotypes or negative assumptions about race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability, and which to the recipient, can feel like an attack. 
  • Intent vs ImpactIntent refers to what you meant to do/say. Impact refers to how it was perceived by others. These are not always the same.

Neurodiversity. A wider view of “normal.”

  • Neurodiversity—the concept that differences in brain functioning within the human population are normal and that brain functioning that is not neurotypical should not be stigmatized.

Privilege & Allyship. When we recognize our own privilege, we can be better allies to others.

  • Privilege—a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor
  • Allyship—an active and consistent practice in which a person in a position of privilege and power seeks to operate in solidarity with a marginalized group

Sex & Gender. Do you know the difference?

  • Sex—refers to biological markers, including chromosomes, sex organs, and endogenous hormonal profiles. “Female” is a sex.
  • Gender—refers to identity—socially constructed and enacted roles and behaviors. “Woman” is a gender.

Unconscious (Implicit) Bias. We don’t always know.  

  • Unconscious/implicit bias operates outside of a person’s awareness and may even be in direct contradiction to a person’s espoused beliefs and values

Social Justice. Gender equity cannot exist without equity for all.

  • Social Justice—fair treatment of all people in a society, with equal economic, political, and social rights and opportunities for all.

A good resource for AAUW branches is the AAUW DEI Toolkit: