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Gender Equity Vs. Gender Equality: What’s the Distinction?

Categories: Economics of Gender Equity  Events  Gender Equity  Gender Pay Gap  Pipeline Platform  

Gender Equality vs. Equity

The conversation surrounding ‘gender equality’ is ongoing and important—but there’s something missing.

In Hollywood, in the news, in classrooms and in boardrooms, important and historic conversations are taking place. The narrative surrounding gender equality, a conversation seemingly as old as time itself, has taken center stage in the global consciousness bringing new eyes and a new generation of leaders and advocates to the fore.

There is however an important distinction that needs to be understood—gender equality and gender equity are related terms but have different meanings. While the words sound similar, the definitions and practical usage are different.

At Pipeline™, the word ‘equity’ is dual-purpose. Related to gender and the workplace, equity sets the stage for equality, as it refers to the “fairness of treatment for both women and men, according to the their respective needs.” If equality is the end goal, equity is the means to get there. 

“Gender equality, equality between men and women…does not mean that women and men have to become the same, but that their rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they were born male or female. Gender equity means fairness of treatment for men and women according to their respective needs. This may include equal treatment or treatment that is different but which is considered equivalent in terms of rights, benefits, obligations, and opportunities.” –United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESDOC)

The word ‘equity’ also has deep financial implications. In the world of business, a broad definition of equity is the financial value of an asset after subtracting the value of liabilities. At Pipeline™, we tie an increase in financial performance for companies to closing the gender equity gap. In an era where increasing numbers of women are exiting the workforce, and where there is a $2 Trillion GDP gap in the United States, there is money to be made on both sides of the fence—for female employees and for the enterprise. 

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The dual meaning of the word equity presents both a challenge and an opportunity for business. A challenge because the distinction between gender equity and gender equality is unclear to most people, and bringing clarity and purpose to this conversation is an important step along the path to eliminating the gender equity gap. An opportunity because we now have the insights to open the eyes of individuals and business leaders as to this distinction, thereby making it possible to move forward along the journey to gender equality in the workplace.


Once there is broad awareness of the opportunity, we can work together to take positive steps toward its realization.

The goal at Pipeline™ has always been to address and solve the issues surrounding gender equity and to monetize its impact on business. Clarifying the subtle but important distinction between the terms gender equity and gender equality is a small, first step toward realizing this economic opportunity.

RELATED: Is the Labor Force Shortage Affecting Your Company? If It’s Not Now, It Will Soon

Shedding light on these differences, bringing men into the conversation, and opening up space for intelligent dialogue and healthy tension will bring us closer to the objective of closing the gender equity gap in our lifetime.

Make gender equity a quantifiable, data-driven, economic opportunity rather than a confusing and controversial social issue.

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© 2018 Pipeline Equity, Inc.

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