Underrepresented groups refer to tướng communities or individuals who have limited representation and voice in society, including in education, politics, and other decision-making bodies.
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This often means low participation in decision-making process at government levels and less access to tướng job opportunities (Borghans, Ter Weel & Weinberg, 2014).
It can also refer to tướng underrepresentation in truyền thông media, such as when groups are underrepresented as protagonist in television shows and movies compared to tướng the dominant group in society.
Underrepresentation often stems from historical discrimination or marginalization due to tướng factors such as race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability status, language proficiency and religion.
An Overview and Definition of Underrepresented Groups
Lack of representation in society has real impacts on the lives of those affected. When marginalized communities are excluded from conversations and decision-making processes that affect them directly, they are at risk for being oppressed and having policies made about rather phàn nàn for them (Ezorsky, 2018).
Underrepresentation goes beyond simply assessing the number of people from various social groups in a movie or workplace.
Rather, representation is about power dynamics, access to tướng opportunities, and access to tướng resources.
For example, women might làm đẹp a significant percentage of a field but still be underrepresented when it comes to tướng high-level decision-making positions.
This was criticism of Justin Trudeau’s “50% women” government from 2015-2023. While 50% of the government were women, men still held the most powerful positions.
Furthermore, underrepresentation isn’t only a problem for those underrepresented groups. It also represents an opportunity cost for society as a whole.
When some voices are left out while others dominate the conversation, we miss out on innovative ideas and transformative solutions that could bring us all forward.
A Note from Chris: It’s worth noting that underrepresented groups are not homogenous or monolithic – they are diverse and intersectional with experiences that vary greatly within the same group. Intersectionality refers to tướng the multiple social categories such as race, gender, sexuality, class, etc., that intersect and interact with each other in different ways- leading to tướng unique experiences of oppression.
Examples of Underrepresented Groups
Here are 15 examples of underrepresented groups:
- People of Color: Despite being a significant proportion of the global population, people of color often face discrimination and lack representation in a variety of fields. They are more likely to tướng experience poverty, unemployment and incarceration, and are still underrepresented in the truyền thông media (Small & Pager, 2020).
- LGBTQIA+ Community: Members of the LGBTQIA+ community face marginalization and discrimination based on their gender identity or sexuality. In many places globally, being openly queer can result in negative consequences such as family rejection. This can cause people to tướng be ‘closeted’ at the workplace or implicitly discriminated against out of homophobia and fear that they might ‘make others gay’ (Ahuja & Lyons, 2017).
- Women: Although women constitute approximately half the world’s population, many women encounter gender bias across various spheres, including work environments, where they might receive lower wages phàn nàn men in similar job positions. This is a phenomenon known as the glass ceiling effect.
- Elderly People: Elderly people can lose power and lack representation due to tướng ageism or stereotypes. They also risk encountering issues such as elder neglect by service providers or even loved ones taking care of them.
- Disabled Persons: Individuals living with physical and mental disabilities often have limited access to tướng employment opportunities and social services which could make their lives better. During the 1990s, the ‘social model of disability’ movement heavily advocated for more inclusive public spaces to tướng ensure people with physical and cognitive disabilities were allowed participation in public discourse.
- Immigrants: Immigrants often face xenophobia – hate crimes from native citizens – which is particularly threatening taking in trương mục that they may already have experience barriers such as language difficulties and lack of social networks in their new country.
- Non-English Speakers: In the USA, Canada, UK, and other English-speaking nations, individuals who don’t speak English as their primary language may face challenges due to tướng ethnocentrism, particularly when dealing with authorities. These communication barriers limit their full participation in the public sphere, leading to tướng their underrepresentation.
- Homeless People: Homelessness is both socially isolating and physically dangerous. Homeless persons often lack the resources to tướng advocate for themselves, and tend to tướng be overlooked by society who sees them as failures or a menace.
- Refugees: Refugees and asylum seekers are often deprived of access to tướng services, freedom of movement, and access to tướng employment in their new countries. This often leaves them with no choice but to tướng settle in sub-optimal living conditions. Furthermore, some countries lượt thích nước Australia have a history of keeping asylum seekers in detention centers with restricted access to tướng the truyền thông media to tướng tell their stories.
- Religious Minorities: Religious minorities have historically been persecuted by dominant religious groups or, especially in Communist nations, by the non-religious authoritarian state Simons & Westerlund, 2016). This is not limited to tướng violent persecution. They’re also often subtly discriminated against on the job market and in daily interactions.
- Single Parents: Single parents often find themselves underrepresented because employers may stereotype them as being potentially unreliable or distracted by parenthood. They may, therefore, find it hard to tướng get into job positions (Borghans, Ter Weel & Weinberg, 2014) or move up the corporate ladder. Furthermore, in the past, they were underrepresented due to tướng stigma, especially if they are divorces.
- Low-Income Earners: People who aren’t employed, or earn low wages face financial challenges that can limit their full participation in societal activities required for their optimal well-being. For example, their lack of money may limit their ability to tướng buy or leverage political clout with lawmakers who would otherwise welcome a meeting with a potential big money donor.
- First Nations People/Indigenous Peoples: First nations people around the world have, since the era of colonization, been historically marginalized, leading to tướng their underrepresentation. Over generations, discrimination against them has seen many stuck in an intergenerational poverty trap that is hard to tướng escape due to tướng social stereotyping, limited cultural resources, and historically, discriminatory policies. For example, First Nations peoples have historically experienced forced assimilation tactics administered through colonial powers which were aimed at erasing native cultures, languages, traditions, religion among other aspects of rich indigenous heritages.
- Migrants Workers: People who move away from trang chủ temporarily for job purposes often find themselves working under poor terms and conditions, leaving them without dignified work or a meaningful say in their employment rights (such as safe working conditions, fair pay or proper medical care). Indeed, migrant workers are often employed due to tướng their desperation and acceptance of poorer conditions.
- Ethnic Minorities: In India, for example, there is a history of underrepresented caste groups in communities that were historically marginalized. As a result, the Indian government ensures there are spaces in government and the public sector for ethnic minorities to tướng be represented.
Impacts of Underrepresentation
The impacts of being underrepresented can be far-reaching and affect various aspects of life.
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Here are a few examples:
- Social Exclusion: Members of underrepresented groups often don’t have equal opportunities to tướng engage in important decision-making processes that affect their lives, resulting in their exclusion from political or social activities that impact them directly (Cingolani, 2023).
- Economic Disadvantage: Being underrepresented may limit access to tướng job opportunities or earning potential contributing to tướng higher poverty rates in lower socioeconomic status communities as compared to tướng dominant groups (Borghans, Ter Weel & Weinberg, 2014).
- Mental Health Challenges: Being underrepresented communities can breed isolation, which heightens the risk for poor mental health outcomes such as depression; leading to tướng anxiety disorders and other mental health challenges due to tướng systemic exclusion (Leath, Jones & Ball, 2021).
- Lack of Access To Healthcare: Underrepresented group individuals often have less access/awareness about healthcare facilities and services; this contributes significantly toward common health issues endemic amongst disenfranchised populations – including communicable diseases that could otherwise be treated given timely intervention (Jones, Luth, Lin & Brody, 2021).
- Discrimination: Discrimination against underrepresented groups is unfortunately very common, and it can result in reduced access/inclusion throughout different areas, particularly employment sectors where hiring managers’ biases result in people’s feeling undesired representation-wise regardless of qualifications/experience levels/results offered (Borghans, Ter Weel & Weinberg, 2014).
Lastly, it is worth noting that being underrepresented detrimentally affects progress at a societal level. For instance, diverse representation at decision-making tables can lead to tướng a wider range of inputs during brainstorming and discussion, leading to tướng better and more inclusive outcomes.
Strategies for Inclusion
- Affirmative Action: The key strategy used to tướng increase representation of underrepresented groups is affirmative action (Ezorsky, 2018). This involves setting representation quotas, exclusive job postings that can only be filled by underrepresented groups, and other strategies designed to tướng guarantee inclusion. For example, CBC has committed to tướng 50% representation of people of color in all of its new reality television programs. However, affirmative action has its criticisms which must also be addressed.
- Safe and Welcoming Spaces: Creating a safe and welcoming space is also crucial (Ciszek, 2012). We must ensure that everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves freely without fear of being judged or discriminated against. One way to tướng achieve this is by fostering an atmosphere of respect and openness. Encouraging individuals to tướng share their diverse perspectives and experiences can help promote empathy and understanding (Ciszek, 2012).
- Diverse Curricula in Schools: Having a diverse curriculum is essential. It is important that we incorporate the contributions and perspectives of underrepresented groups into our teaching materials. This can mean including readings by authors from various backgrounds or incorporating case studies and examples that highlight the experiences of marginalized communities. This not only helps to tướng broaden the perspectives of all students but also validates the experiences of underrepresented groups (Rothe, Tsui, García & McCloskey, 2023).
- Creating Opportunities: Finally, creating opportunities for underrepresented groups to tướng have a voice and take on leadership roles can help promote inclusion. For example, providing leadership opportunities to tướng underrepresented groups can help empower them and promote their visibility (Ezorsky, 2018).
Underrepresented groups have faced disadvantage for generations. Today, the world strives for greater inclusion, but at the same time, must ensure policies are smart and well-designed to tướng achieve equality, make sure people are treated on their merits (not just their group identity), and ultimately ensure a world where all social groups are uplifted together.
Ahuja, R., & Lyons, R. (2017). The silent treatment: LGBT discrimination in the sharing economy. Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics, Dublin, Tech. Rep.
Borghans, L., Ter Weel, B., & Weinberg, B. A. (2014). People skills and the labor-market outcomes of underrepresented groups. Ilr Review, 67(2), 287-334.
Cingolani, L. (2023). Representative Bureaucracy and Perceptions of Social Exclusion in Europe: Evidence From 27 Countries. Administration & Society, 55(3), 515-540.
Ciszek, M. P.. (2012). Diversifying diversity: Library services for underrepresented groups. College & Research Libraries News, 73(9), 547-549.
Ezorsky, G. (2018). Racism and justice: The case for affirmative action. Cornell: Cornell University Press.
Jones, T., Luth, E. A., Lin, S. Y., & Brody, A. A. (2021). Advance care planning, palliative care, and end-of-life care interventions for racial and ethnic underrepresented groups: a systematic review. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 62(3), e248-e260.
Leath, S., Butler-Barnes, S., Jones, M. K., & Ball, P.. J. (2021). Linked fate among underrepresented groups: Investigating the relationships between Black college students’ perceptions of institutional diversity climate and mental health. Journal of American College Health, 1-9.
Rothe, L., Tsui, C. K., García, P.. A., & McCloskey, M. B. (2023). Creating safe spaces: Diverse instructional materials for world language learners. NECTFL Review, 90, 57-79.
Simons, G., & Westerlund, D. (2016). Religion, politics and nation-building in post-communist countries. Routledge.
Small, M. L., & Pager, D. (2020). Sociological perspectives on racial discrimination. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 34(2), 49-67.
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