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DEI Glossary of Terms

This is the Foster School’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Glossary of Terms. See something missing? Would you like to suggest an edit to one of these definitions? If so, kindly fill out THIS FORM to provide comments and suggested edits, and we will update the list periodically.



Terms Definition
Ableism Ableism is the intentional or unintentional discrimination or oppression of individuals with disabilities based on the belief that typical abilities are superior. Source: https://www.nccj.org/ableism
Accessibility The quality of being possible to get into, use, make use of.
Source: https://www.nccj.org/ableism
Accomplice All accomplices are allies, but not all allies are accomplices. While an ally is willing to stand in support of a marginalized voice, risk is rarely involved. An accomplice uses the power and privilege they have to challenge the status quo, often risking their physical and social well being in the process.
Source: https://www.diverseeducation.com/opinion/article/15104148/moving-from-ally-to-accomplice-how-far-are-you-willing-to-go-to-disrupt-racism-in-the-workplace
Ageism Refers to two concepts: a socially constructed way of thinking about older persons based on negative attitudes and stereotypes about aging and a tendency to structure society based on an assumption that everyone is young, thereby failing to respond appropriately to the real needs of older persons.
Source: http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/ageism-and-age-discrimination-fact-sheet
Ally An individual who takes action to support social justice and works to eliminate oppression. Also see “accomplice” in the DEI Glossary.
Bias Prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person or group compared to another; usually in a way considered unfair. Implicit bias is unconscious, explicit bias is conscious.
Bigotry The fact of having and expressing strong, unreasonable beliefs and disliking other people who have different beliefs or a different way of life.
Source: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/bigotry
BIPOC An acronym for Black, Indigenous, and People Of Color.
Source: https://www.nytimes.com/article/what-is-bipoc.html
Cisgender Adj: A term used to describe people whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth. Often abbreviated to cis.
Source: https://www.catalyst.org/2019/05/30/12-diversity-inclusion-terms-you-need-to-know/
Class Refers to people’s socio-economic status, based on factors such as wealth, occupation, education, income etc.
Classism Differential treatment based on social class or perceived social class. Classism is the systematic oppression of subordinated class groups to advantage and strengthen the dominant class groups. It’s the systematic assignment of characteristics of worth and ability based on social class.
Source: https://classism.org/about-class/what-is-classism/
Culture Learned and shared values, beliefs, languages, and customs of a social group.
D&I Diversity & Inclusion
DEI DEI is an acronym for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
DEIA Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Accessibility
DIB Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging
Disability Having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. This is includes people who have a record of such an impairment, even if they do not currently have a disability. It also includes individuals who do not have a disability but are regarded as having a disability.
Source: https://www.nccj.org/ableism
Discrimination Prejudiced treatment of a person on the basis of the social groups to which they belong, and stereotypes about those groups. When committed by an individual, discrimination can be broken down into two types: traditional discrimination (openly negative treatment) and modern discrimination (subtle negative treatment).
Diversity Efforts to increase representation of different types of identities within communities (e.g., demographics, sexuality, religion, etc.)
Emotional Tax Noun: The combination of being on guard to protect against bias, feeling different at work because of gender, race, and/or ethnicity, and the associated effects on health, well-being, and ability to thrive at work.
Source: https://www.catalyst.org/2019/05/30/12-diversity-inclusion-terms-you-need-to-know/
Empowerment The state of being empowered to do something: the power, right, or authority to do something.
Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empowerment
Equity Critically examining systems to identify biases that prevent equal access and opportunity to individuals.
Ethnicity A socially or politically constructed group based on cultural criteria, such as language, customs, and shared history.
Feminism The belief that all genders have equal rights and opportunities.
Source: https://iwda.org.au/learn/what-is-feminism/
Gender Social constructed categories of masculinity/manhood and femininity and womanhood.
Heterosexism The assumption that heterosexuality is the social and cultural norm as well as the prejudiced belief that heterosexuals, or “straight” people, are socially and culturally superior to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Two-Spirit and queer (LGBTTQ) people.
Source: https://rainbowresourcecentre.org/files/12-11-Heterosexism.pdf
Homophobia The irrational fear, dislike, hatred, aversion, intolerance, and ignorance of homosexuality and of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Two Spirit and queer (LGBTTQ) individuals.
Source: https://rainbowresourcecentre.org/files/16-12-Homophobia.pdf
I-200 Initiative 200, passed by the citizens of Washington State in 1998 and now incorporated into the Washington State Law Against Discrimination prohibits preferential treatment on the basis of race, color, national origin, and sex but does not prohibit action that must be taken to establish or maintain eligibility for any federal programs, if ineligibility would result in a loss of federal funds to the state.
Source: https://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/initiatives/text/i200.pdf
Inclusion Valuing differences as a source of strength, innovation, and performance; creating belonging
Indigenous Peoples in independent countries who are regarded as indigenous on account of their descent from the populations which inhabited the country, or a geographical region to which the country belongs, at the time of conquest or colonisation or the establishment of present state boundaries and who, irrespective of their legal status, retain some or all of their own social, economic, cultural and political institutions.
Source: https://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=NORMLEXPUB:12100:0::NO::P12100_ILO_CODE:C169
Institutional Racism A pattern of social institutions—such as governmental organizations, schools, banks, and courts of law—giving negative treatment to a group of people based on their race.
Intent Vs. Impact Our intentions (what we want or hope to do) don’t always align with what we say or do which can impact how others receive what one says and does. INTENT Refers to what you hope or want to do when choosing to perform an action. IMPACT Refers to the reality (e.g. results) of your actions/ behaviors. The resulting impact may not always align with what you intended. Owning the impact: When one’s impact is being called into question, especially if the action is perpetuating oppression, it is important to recognize the action is being called into question not the person/overall character.
Source: https://everydayfeminism.com/2013/07/intentions-dont-really-matter/
Intersectionality The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.
Source: https://aapf.org/kimberle-crenshaw
JEDI Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
Justice Presence of systems and supports (e.g. policies, practices, norms) that achieve and sustain fair treatment, equitable opportunities, and outcomes for people of all races. Systematic, proactive reinforcement.
Source: http://www.theinclusionsolution.me/beyond-the-rhetoric-centering-justice-anti-racism-in-our-dei-strategy-our-approach/
Latine Latine is also a gender-neutral form of the word Latino, created by gender non-binary and feminist communities in Spanish-speaking countries.
Source: https://elcentro.colostate.edu/about/why-latinx/
Latinx Latinx is the gender-neutral alternative to Latina or Latino. It is a term used to describe a diverse group of people who have roots in Latin America
Source: https://elcentro.colostate.edu/about/why-latinx/
LGBTQIA+ Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transexual, queer/questioning, intersex, and allied/asexual/aromantic/agender.
Source: https://lgbtqia.ucdavis.edu/educated/glossary
Marginalization To relegate to an unimportant or powerless position within a society or group
Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/marginalize
Micro-inequity Apparently small events which are often ephemeral and hard-to-prove, events which are covert, often unintentional, frequently unrecognized by the perpetrator, which occur wherever people are perceived to be different- Mary Rowe, MIT.
Source: https://www.lewissilkin.com/en/insights/mansplaining-micro-inequities-and-managers</a
Microaggression The everyday slights, indignities, put downs and insults that people of color, women, LGBT populations or those who are marginalized experience in their day-to-day interactions with people.
Source: https://www.vox.com/2015/2/16/8031073/what-are-microaggressions
Neurodiversity Noun: The concept that there is great diversity in how people’s brains are wired and work, and that neurological differences should be valued in the same way we value any other human variation.
Source: https://www.catalyst.org/2019/05/30/12-diversity-inclusion-terms-you-need-to-know/
Non-binary An umbrella term for people whose gender identity doesn’t sit comfortably with ‘man’ or ‘woman’. Non-binary identities are varied and can include people who identify with some aspects of binary identities, while others reject them entirely.
Source: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/about-us/news/10-ways-step-ally-non-binary-people
OMAD Acronym referring to UW’s Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity.
Source: https://www.washington.edu/omad/
Oppression Systemic devaluing, undermining, marginalizing and disadvantaging of certain social identities in contrast to the privileged norm; when some people are denied something of value, while others have ready access.
Pansexuality The romantic, emotional, and/or sexual attraction to people regardless of their gender.

Performative Allyship When an individual or group of power/majority/privilege (e.g., white, male, abled, unqueer, etc) loudly profess(es) their actions in the name of ‘allyship,’ while actively conducting harm to, taking focus away from, and generally being unhelpful towards the group they claim to support, often to receive praise and attention, without taking critical action to dismantle the systems of harm.
Source: https://www.selfdefined.app/definitions/performative-allyship/
POC Acronym referring to a Person of Color.
Positionality Social identities in relation to power, which influences the way we understand the world and our interactions with others.
Prejudice ‘Pre-judgement’ Personal bias for or against anything, all humans have bias and prejudice.
Privilege Systemic favoring, enriching, valuing, validating and including of certain social identities over others. Individuals cannot ‘opt out’ of systems of privilege; rather these systems are inherent to the society in which we live.
Race A socially or politically constructed group based on perceived differences in physical characteristics.
Racism Belief that some races of people are better than others.
Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/10/us/merriam-webster-racism-definition.html
Sexual Orientation A concept referring to sexual desire and preference for emotional and sexual relationships with others based on their sex/gender; often implies that sexual object choice is an essential in-born characteristic, so may be problematic to some.
Social Justice Active engagement toward equity and inclusion that addresses issues of institutional, structural, and environmental inequity, power, and privilege.
Stereotypes Assumptions we make about people on the basis of the social groups to which they belong
Systemic Racism (AKA structural racism or institutional racism) Systems and structures that have procedures or processes that disadvantage African Americans, Indigenous people, Latinx people, and people of color.
Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/06/15/systemic-racism-what-does-mean/5343549002/
Tolerance The attitude of someone who is willing to accept someone else’s beliefs, way of life, etc. without criticizing them even if they disagree with them.
Source: https://www.macmillandictionary.com/us/dictionary/american/tolerance
Transgender People whose gender identity is different from the gender they were thought to be at birth. “Trans” is often used as shorthand for transgender.
Source: https://transequality.org/issues/resources/frequently-asked-questions-about-transgender-people
UDS Acronym referring to Foster Undergraduate Diversity Services
White Privilege A concept that highlights the unfair societal advantages that white people have over non-white people. It is something that is pervasive throughout society and exists in all of the major systems and institutions that operate in society, as well as on an interpersonal level.
Source: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-white-privilege-5070460
Workplace Inclusion Noun: An atmosphere where all employees belong, contribute, and can thrive. Requires deliberate and intentional action.
Source: https://www.catalyst.org/2019/05/30/12-diversity-inclusion-terms-you-need-to-know/
YEOC Acronym for Foster’s High School Outreach program, Young Executives of Color.
Source: https://foster.uw.edu/academics/degree-programs/undergraduate-programs/diversity-services/young-executives-of-color-yeoc/

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