Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Mathematics Education

pp 217-221


Equity and Access in Mathematics Education

  • Peter GatesAffiliated withCentre for Research in Mathematics Education, University of Nottingham Email author 


Equity Social justice Bourdieu Social class SES (Socioeconomic status) Gender inequality Group placement


Social class background – social class is best understood through a Marxist orientation as the groupings people fall into as a result of explicit economic forces within society. These groupings are a direct result of similarities with and differences between people, particularly through the resources to which they have access, but also to their tastes and dispositions, which ultimately position them within educational systems.


Usually an encyclopedia entry will begin with some definitions. With both “equity” and “access,” that’s not possible. Each of these terms is politically loaded and reflects political and ideological dispositions both in the pedagogical arena of the classroom and in the intellectual arena of the academy. One problem of defining equity is due to it being assumed to be a universal good; surely everyone wants equity? Actually that’s far from the case, and at least there will be little agreement on how we define and mor ...

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