Affirmative action is a growing argument among our society. It is
multifaceted and very often defined vaguely. Some can define affirmative action
as the ability to strive for equality and inclusiveness. Others might see it as
a quota-based system for different minority groups. Affirmative action was
originally designed to help minorities (Gross, 1996). Is affirmative action
fair? Are minority groups on equal footing? Is gaining employment for minorities
difficult? Is education easily obtained for the minority groups of people?
Affirmative action endeavors to answer all these questions, while allowing
society to believe harmony exists.
Affirmative action was originally designed to help minorities, but women,
especially white women, have made the greatest gains as a result of these
programs (Boston, 1996). Is affirmative action fair? In 1974, a woman named
Rose was turned down for a supervisory job in favor of a male. She was told that
she was the most qualified person, but the position was going to be filled by a
man, because he had a family to support. Five years before that, when Rose was
about to fill an entry-level position in banking, a personnel officer outlined
the womans pay scale, which was $25 to $50 a month less than what men were
being paid in the same position. Rose was furious because she felt this was
discriminating to her. She confronted the personnel officer and he saw nothing
wrong with it. In 1977, a woman working for a company as a clerk was informed
that she should be at home raising a family. She allowed the comments to persist
until she was given two weeks notice that her position was no longer available.
Upon leaving the position she learned the company had given the clerk position
to a man because he had a family to support. Thanks to affirmative action,
situations like the ones mentioned are becoming less frequent and employers are
correcting these situations quickly and efficiently.
Affirmative action has definitely helped women and minorities in their
careers, but it has yet to succeed in the goal of equality in the business world
for women and minorities. As more and more women are faced with discrimination
in large firms, more have decided to strike out on their own. Observers argue
that women have made huge strides with the help of affirmative action. They 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, 1995).
Affirmative action was designed to give qualified minorities a chance to
compete on equal footing with Whites (Chappell, 1995). Equal opportunities
for the African Americans, for the most part, has remained more wishful-thinking
than fact. African American students are continuing to struggle for an
education. In society today, many educational institutions offer scholarships
for minorities. Ethnic minority students can further their education from the
elementary level to the Ph.D level. However, for a minority student, all the
financial assistance in the world, is not going to pay for the racial
discrimination that they may receive, while attending a white educational
facility. In 1982 a young African American man had been accepted into an Ivy
league institution. His family were proud of his achievements and his ability to
become someone great. As time progressed, our African American student dressed
like a black, walked like a black, looked like a black, but to keep well with
his professors talked, and acted like his white counterparts.
Equal opportunities for African Americans continue to be hard work and
wishful-thinking. African American business owners are still competing against
their White counterparts. Society labels and stereotypes certain ethic people.
For example, when a person enters an electronic store and the owner is white,
the person shopping continues to look at the items on the shelf. When an
individual walks into an electronic store owned by an African American, the
shopper may believe some of the items are stolen. Affirmative action is a
written law requesting that minorities have equal opportunities however, society
dictates how the opportunities will be given. African American workers are
experiencing an unemployment rate twice that of Whites.The low rate of
unemployment is due to low-income, low-education and low individual worth of
African Americans. African Americans hold dead-end, labor-intensive, low-paying
jobs. Few can argue that racism is still rampant in awarding contracts, jobs,
and educational opportunities (Chappell, 1995).
Affirmative action needs to overcome the disparities of employment that exist
in this country. A recent Urban Benchmarks study found that of 71 metro areas
surveyed nationwide, Pittsburgh had the highest rate of employment-related
problems among non-Hispanic whites