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OR&R Diversity and Inclusion: Privilege Presentation and Discussion

MAY 3, 2019 — On April 24, the OR&R Diversity and Inclusion Committee sponsored an event on how privilege (or the lack thereof) impacts our lives. Sociologists define privilege as unearned benefits that accrue to particular groups based on their location within a social hierarchy. Having privilege varies, depending on factors such as race, gender, sexual orientation, wealth or social status, and religion. While the subject has been the focus of much attention recently, it is not new.

The presentation covered the history of the concept since the 1930s and watched a short video on the “Privilege Walk,” an exercise that aims to demonstrate how life conditions (such as who your parents are, whether you had to pay for your education, whether you were bullied, etc.) can help determine what advantages or disadvantages you may have had throughout your life.

The presentation also focused on the impact of privilege in the workplace, discussing an article and quote by Edward Luce, “Judged by aptitude, almost half those in America’s top two-fifths income bracket are there because of the luck of family background. Think of the value of those unpaid internships. A big share of those in the bottom fifth would be in the top if they had the same life chances."

About half of the one-hour session was devoted to an open discussion of participants’ experiences and impressions of privilege. About 50 OR&R staff members attended.

For further information, contact Laurie.Sullivan@noaa.gov or Vicki.Loe@noaa.gov.

Return to OR&R Weekly Report.