Two hundred years ago in America, being born of a certain race or gender predetermined one’s opportunities in life. African Americans were subjected to slavery and discrimination and women had very little liberty. In the present, the United States is much closer to equality, yet gender and race still play a role in life’s opportunities given the high frequency of affirmative action programs; they attempt to increase the representation of minorities on college campuses and in the office, regardless of virtue. Programs of affirmative action arouse controversy because some groups view affirmative action as a catalyst for reverse discrimination whilst other groups support affirmative action as a way to diversify society and compensate for past exclusions.
Affirmative action describes the “positive steps taken to increase the representation of women and minorities in areas of employment, education, and business from which they have been historically excluded” (Fullinwinder). Technically, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Opportunity Act of 1972 prohibit preferential decision based on race and gender (Civil), yet affirmative action programs are still widespread. Most institutions employ an affirmative action program based on so-called “goals” (Fullinwinder). These goals, which are actually more like quotas, state how many minorities the institution would like to have employed. As an arbitrary example, a company could set a goal to have a workforce composed of 15% Hispanics, 5% African Americans, and so on. Clearly, if an employer cannot meet the goal by solely hiring according to virtue, preferential decisions will become involved (Rodriguez)!
There are many reasons why universities and employers would rather hire a minority than a more qualified person. Firstly, the government urges a more diverse field. For example, the Obama administration went against the Civil Rights act of 1964 and Equal Opportunity Act of 1972 and “urged colleges and universities to get creative in improving racial diversity at their campuses,” (Dillon). Secondly, the institution would like to seem less racist. By hiring more minorities, employers integrate different ethnicities; a company with a mixed workforce seems much more “American” than a workforce comprised solely of Caucasians (Fullinwinder)!
Those in favor of affirmative action are strong believers of equal representation. Firstly, the pro-affirmative action case states that the number of minorities in the workplace should represent the percentage of minorities in the country as a whole. Next, supporters of affirmative action believe that affirmative action compensates for past exclusions. These past exclusions include the slavery of African-Americans and the forced subservience of women. Thirdly, affirmative action tries to integrate minorities into society. By giving them preferential treatment in employment, more and more minorities are attaining a higher living standard as well as introducing them to...