Affirmative Action in Education and Employment

Affirmative Action in Education and Employment



Affirmative Action in Education and Employment


            African Americans had inadequate chances for progress into the middle class before the end of the 19th century owing to segregation, racial discrimination, and the disadvantageous geographical location in the countryside South. In the 19th century, 40% of the Caucasian population had attended high school, while only half of the African-American population accessed this same level of education. These foreigners had restricted and occasionally, no access to advanced education while only 3% advanced past the college level. Professional African-Americans were mostly restricted to serving their race (Golland, 2011). Blacks existing outside their community occupied unskilled and low-paying occupations. African-American women similarly occupied domestic occupations. In the period after the liberation of slaves, African-Americans found themselves in a difficult position that facilitated the development of the Affirmative Action and other social justice policies. Affirmative Action emerged from the diverse economic, social, and religious injustices including residential segregation, housing discrimination, lower employment opportunities to education. Analyzing the level of success after the implementation of the Affirmative Action program within the African-American society will provide enough results that can be used to understand social changes, government policy, and racial disparities (Ibarra, 2001). The following section addresses the level of implementation of affirmative action policies in the employment and education sector.

Implementation in the Workplace and Education

Within the United States, affirmative action is mostly concentrated in areas such as employment and education, specifically awarding unique benefits to minorities such as African-Americans and Native Americans, and women who have been discriminated in the past. Studies have revealed that most of the minorities have encountered discrimination in education and commerce for many years, and this prejudice generated unjust benefits for Caucasians and males in learning institutions and workplaces. The main motivation for pursuing affirmative action is rectifying the shortcomings linked to historical and current discrimination. Additional impetus for this policy is the need to ensure public organizations, such as colleges, courts, and armed forces, are more receptive to the diverse people they serve. The subject of affirmative action is very controversial. As mentioned earlier, organizations and colleges have embraced affirmative action particularly gender and racial quotas. However, this policy change has been criticized because of its ability to generate reverse discrimination, and consequently, the adoption of affirmative action has been declared unlawful in several trials. The motive for developing affirmative action policies was to rectify years of discrimination originating from the Industrial Era by awarding underprivileged minorities different chances (Golland, 2011). Many citizens believe that the ethnic diversity within the current American society indicates that affirmative action strategies have achieved their purpose and are no longer relevant (Pierce, 2012). Detractors of affirmative action propose that the approach is obsolete and sets the grounds for reverse discrimination that involves favoring minorities over normal people because of their racial disadvantages. In America, the most popular type of racial preference applies to the education sector, specifically enrollment to colleges and other categories of higher education (Ibarra, 2001). However, the policy has also been applied extensively in the employment field. Gender, customs, local dialect, social rank, geological origin, history of the family and racial background are occasionally considered when organizations evaluate a candidate’s academic and professional achievements. The subsequent section covers the academic evidence of the implementation of affirmative action as well as the arguments against its usage in public and private institutions (Pierce, 2012).

Evidence of Benefits of Affirmative Action

Affirmative action policies have attempted to restore balance and parity in a wide variety of areas including school admissions and employment. This is normally achieved by extending advantages to minorities. However, there is a significant problem with the principle of affirmative action (Ibarra, 2001). One can argue that individuals who benefit from affirmative action may gain an upper advantage over other ordinary people. For instance, students who enjoy benefits that allow them to get into a first-class school might have a better chance of succeeding in life (Pierce, 2012). However, these beneficiaries may have succeeded without the help of affirmative action albeit in a less preferential environment. The thought that affirmative action might have a negative effect on its anticipated beneficiaries was proposed in 1960s literature. During this period, the Kennedy administration introduced the phenomenon of affirmative action and collected the initial data on the practice. This theory has been labeled as a mismatch (Walker, 2007). This is mainly because the initiative can mislead the people it is designed to assist by awarding them education and employment opportunities where they end up categorized in the median level of competence and consequently, have a difficult time (Golland, 2011). As an implication, these individuals exhibit poor performance in their education and their careers. In other words, the mismatch hypothesis does not assert that African-Americans and Hispanic minorities should not enroll in influential learning institutions (Pierce, 2012). This is far from the proposal. However, it warns that all individuals, minority or otherwise, do not expressly gain from enrolling in an institution that they join with academic credentials well below the average level of their colleagues (Ibarra, 2001). The issues of quotas and tiebreakers have been captured in numerous discussions on affirmative action. However, many other scholars have also presented the argument that affirmative action is not practiced in good faith (Pierce, 2012). Arguing for or against the usage of this particular policy is imperative to understanding the paper’s thesis (Walker, 2007).

Using Affirmative Action as Tiebreaker

Tiebreakers are one of the four kinds of affirmative action while the other three are outreach, point, and quota system. The tiebreaker approach works in a manner that allows the minority member in applications or interviews to acquire positions provided they have impressive qualifications (Golland, 2011). The argument on the implementation of affirmative action has resulted in several conclusions. For institutions of higher learning and employment locations, the admissions procedure normally incorporates the watchful evaluation of an applicant’s credentials. Many aspects of the individual are evaluated including job experience, specific institutions attended, and other special skills (Ibarra, 2001). One’s racial orientation cannot be included in the selection criteria, and many institutions have never had a problem choosing people for the last few positions. The recruitment process at many respectable institutions is cautiously developed, and most of these organizations have elaborate departments mandated with this responsibility (Walker, 2007).

Social Standing and Affirmative Action

There is a need for increased focus on the roles played by institutions within the education sector as well as the general employers in the industry. Most organizations have previously relied on the approach that uses objective measures to establish eligibility using merit has been a fundamental constituent of the argument concerning affirmative action. The common belief that test scores and GPAs are the most appropriate pointers for successful applicants is overstated (Golland, 2011). However, these principles cannot apply to the current American social context particularly because the greater number of minorities that have survived without adequate learning and employment opportunities. Therefore, the usage of tiebreakers as a form of affirmative action is justified especially in the American context (Pierce, 2012). The affirmative action policy has assisted many minorities in the 21st century to enjoy their economic and social settings. In a way, the policy has greatly improved the social justice. African-Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, and Indians have benefited greatly from the affirmative action.


It is necessary to note that not every instance of minority under-representation was created by discrimination, and not all of them have to be rectified using affirmative action. This policy approach is only for instances where prejudice is explicitly being practiced in the work setting. The paper covered the past discrimination of minority groups have a multitude of problems at the local and national levels (Ibarra, 2001). Educational discrimination, employment discrimination, and residential discrimination forced minority groups into adverse settings. Such environments force students to enroll in inferior schools that complicated the chances for them to be accepted into elite colleges. In turn, these choices make it difficult for students to acquire well-paying professions. Low-income jobs and limited employment mobility restrict their ability to relocate to middle or high standard residential areas (Golland, 2011). This cycle is replicated throughout the years. Balanced representation would be a real phenomenon in the American setting in the absence of discrimination against minority groups in history. Affirmative action holds the potential for improving miscellany in the office that will be constructive for diverse observations, to improve education and business.


Golland, D. (2011). Constructing affirmative action the struggle for equal employment opportunity. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. 0-8131-2997-4

Ibarra, R. (2001). Beyond affirmative action reframing the context of higher education. Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press. 9780299169046

Pierce, J. (2012). Racing for Innocence Whiteness, Gender, and the Backlash against Affirmative Action. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press. 9780804778794

Walker, B. (2007). U.S. Judge Lets Michigan Universities Use Affirmative Action, For Now. Diverse Issues in Higher Education, 23(24), 20-20.

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