What is Discrimination?

Everywhere we look, we see differences in wealth, power, and status. Some groups have higher status and greater privilege than others. This inequality in the system is what we call social stratification. In this unequal social system, there is often unfair treatment directed against certain individuals or social groups. This is referred to as discrimination. Discrimination can be based on many different characteristics—age, gender, weight, ethnicity, religion, or even politics. For example, prejudice and discrimination based on race is called racism.

Oftentimes, gender prejudice or discrimination is referred to as sexism. Discrimination is often the outcome of prejudice—a pre-formed negative judgment or attitude. Prejudice leads people to view certain individuals or groups as inferior.