Ascribed Status - Definition and Explanation

Ascribed Status – Definition and Explanation

Understanding Ascribed Status in DEI: Definition and Examples

In the realm of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), comprehending the concept of “Ascribed Status” holds significant importance. Ascribed Status pertains to the social position or rank assigned to an individual at birth or later in life, typically beyond their control, such as race, gender, or socioeconomic background. 


Ascribed Status is a term within sociology denoting the societal standing or rank bestowed upon an individual based on attributes like race, ethnicity, age, gender, family background, and socio-economic class, over which the individual has minimal or no influence. Unlike achieved status, earned through an individual’s actions or accomplishments, ascribed status is predetermined and often dictates an individual’s opportunities, privileges, and experiences within society.

Significance in DEI:

Understanding ascribed status is pivotal in DEI endeavours for acknowledging and rectifying systemic inequalities and discrimination. By acknowledging how individuals are stratified based on inherent characteristics, organisations and communities can strive towards creating fairer environments where everyone enjoys equal opportunities for success, irrespective of their ascribed statuses.


  1. Race and Ethnicity: In numerous societies, individuals from certain racial or ethnic backgrounds encounter systemic barriers and discrimination solely due to their ascribed status. For instance, in the United Kingdom, ethnic minorities may face challenges in accessing education, employment, and housing opportunities, contributing to disparities in societal outcomes.
  2. Gender: Gender ascribed status significantly impacts an individual’s opportunities and experiences. Women, for example, often confront gender-based discrimination in various facets of life, including the workplace, resulting in limited career advancement prospects and perpetuating gender disparities.
  3. Socio-Economic Background: Individuals born into lower socio-economic strata may confront systemic hurdles like limited access to quality education, healthcare, and employment opportunities, perpetuating cycles of poverty and inequality.


In conclusion, grasping the concept of ascribed status is imperative for fostering inclusivity and equity in society. By acknowledging how individuals are stratified based on inherent attributes, organisations and communities can implement policies and practices conducive to promoting equal opportunities and dismantling systemic barriers. Embracing diversity and proactively addressing ascribed status inequalities are pivotal steps towards creating a more inclusive and equitable world for all.


Nickerson, C. Ascribed Status: Definition & Examples.

Foladare, I. S. (1969). A clarification of “ascribed status” and “achieved status”. The Sociological Quarterly10(1), 53-61.

Prato, M., Kypraios, E., Ertug, G., & Lee, Y. G. (2019). Middle-status conformity revisited: The interplay between achieved and ascribed status. Academy of Management Journal62(4), 1003-1027.

Bradac, J. J., & Wisegarver, R. (1984). Ascribed status, lexical diversity, and accent: Determinants of perceived status, solidarity, and control of speech style. Journal of language and Social Psychology3(4), 239-255.×8400300401

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