Affirmative Action WorksAffirmative Action is the name given to programs that try to correct past and ongoing discriminations against women, racial minorities, and others in the work force and in education. The principal goal of Affirmative Action is to create more diversity and equal opportunities in jobs or schools that used to be all or mostly male, white, or both. Affirmative Action programs have been in place only a little over thirty years. Affirmative action works.
There are thousands of examples of situations where people of color, and white women who were previously excluded from jobs or educational opportunities, or were denied opportunities once admitted, have gained access through affirmative action. When these policies received executive branch and judicial support, vast numbers of people of color, and white women gained access they would not otherwise have had. These gains have led to very real changes. Affirmative action has definitely helped women and minorities in their careers.
White women now hold 40 percent of all corporate middle-management jobs, and the number of women-owned businesses has grown by 57 percent since 1982? (Dundul, p. 64). Affirmative action programs have not eliminated racism, nor have they always been implemented without problems. The implementation of affirmative action was America’s first honest attempt at solving a problem it chose to ignore.
Comparable imbalances exist for other racial and ethnic minorities as well as for women. Yet, to truly understand the importance of affirmative action, one must look at America’s past discrimination. Affirmative action is needed to level the playing field of the work force in America. Wright 2Affirmative action has had its greatest amount of success in city, state, and government jobs. Since the 1960s the area of law enforcement witnessed the greatest increase in minority applicants, and in jobs offered to minorities. This should be viewed as extremely positive, because prior to affirmative action these jobs were almost completely closed off to minorities and woman.
Affirmative action has experienced considerably less success in integration in big business. This is do to the fact big business has been more resistant to affirmative action and harder to regulate. Affirmative action is also needed to help black women to compete in today’s corporate world. Black women in corporate America are still scarce.
The Bureau of Labor Statistic’s report for 1984, finds that executive, administrative, managerial, and professional, specialty, there were only 1,474,000 black women 5. 9% of the total, as opposed to 22,250,000 white women, 91% of the total number of working women in this category (Cyrus 122). Another growing concern is white male candidates are being discriminated against, or losing out because of affirmative action programs. If we were to look at the breakdown of various white collar professions or if we look at the overall average income levels of white men we should immediately notice that people of color are still significantly under represented and underpaid in every category. People of color don’t make up the proportions of these jobs even remotely equal to their percentage of the population.
They don’t earn wages comparable to white men. White men are tremendously over represented in almost any category of work that is highly rewarded except for professional athletics. According to a 1995 government report, white males make up only 29 percent of the workforce, but hold 95 percent of senior management positions (Sklar 115). Until there is both equal opportunity and fair distribution of education, training and advancement to all Americans, affirmative action for people of color is necessary to counter the hundreds of years of affirmative action that have been directed at white males.
Wright 3Affirmative action is not a cure all. It will not eliminate racial discrimination, nor will it eliminate competition for scarce resources. Affirmative action programs can only ensure that everyone has a fair chance at what is available. Expanding opportunity for people of color means expanding not only their access to existing jobs, education and housing, but also removing the obstacles that cause them from obtaining their goals.
?Affirmative action was designed to give qualified minorities a chance to compete on equal footing with Whites? (Chappell 26). Equal opportunity is the ultimate goal of affirmative action and that is exactly what it has provided. Without affirmative action doors would be closed to minorities. Before affirmative action was created, minorities were given low skill jobs and never given a chance to further their education beyond high school. Yes, affirmative action just fills quotas but without quotas an active of minorities would not be represented in the work place. Women were given rights just like men.
Without affirmative action women would be still stuck at home doing nothing because of sexist men who do not think they can do the same job as men can. Through affirmative action they had high jobs where they were guaranteed the same high wages and benefits as male co-workers. More important, affirmative action raises the economy. More opportunities for minorities and women in jobs and school would equal less poverty. Affirmative action brings educational opportunities leading to job advancement and more productivity in industry. As President Bill Clinton said, ? When affirmative action is done right it is flexible, it is fair, and it works.
? In support of affirmative action President Clinton also said, ?Affirmative action has produced a whole generation of professionals in fields that used to be exclusive clubs including more Black, Hispanic, and Asian American lawyers, judges, scientists, engineers, and accountants. ? Without affirmative action some jobs and education would not be open to minorities and women which Wright 4could result in poverty and discrimination. Affirmative action is our only hope not only in for equality in jobs and education but life itself. In conclusion, Affirmative Action is one of the most important and controversial social issues of our time, and will continue to be questionable as long as it is part of our legal system. Legal decisions regarding Affirmative Action are thrusting it towards extinction, but its supporters will fight fiercely to reverse the trend, and it will be interesting to observe the direction taken by the courts in the next few years. Regardless of the outcome, Affirmative Action has revolutionized the way the population views race, whether part of the majority or the minority.
Works CitedDundul,Tom. ?Affirmative Action?. Working Women Oct. 1995: 63-66.
Cyrus, Virgina. Experiencing Race, Class, and Gender in the United States. Second Edition. Mayfield: Publishing Co. 1996. Skylar, Holly.
Chaos or Community? Seeking Solutions, Not Scapegoats for bad EconomicsBoston: South End Press. 1995. Chappell, Kevin. ?What they Don’t Tell you about Affirmative Action? Ebony Aug. 1995: 24-26. BibliographyWorks CitedDundul,Tom.
?Affirmative Action?. Working Women Oct. 1995: 63-66. Cyrus, Virgina. Experiencing Race, Class, and Gender in the United States.
Second Edition. Mayfield: Publishing Co. 1996. Skylar, Holly. Chaos or Community? Seeking Solutions, Not Scapegoats for bad EconomicsBoston: South End Press.
1995. Chappell, Kevin. ?What they Don’t Tell you about Affirmative Action? Ebony Aug. 1995: 24-26.