For the past several years the argument over affirmative action has been a highly debated topic. The issue at hand is whether or not affirmative action is reverse discrimination or not. Affirmative action by definition “means taking positive steps to end discrimination, to prevent its recurrence, and to create new opportunities that were previously denied to qualified women and people of color,” (Work & Family). The reason that affirmative action is so controversial is because Americans can’t decide what they want.
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Poll after poll concludes that Americans firmly support “affirmative action'” to create opportunities for women and people of color, while they vigorously oppose “quotas'” and “preferences'” for unqualified candidates,” (Work & Family). Which is odd considering that the same “affirmative action” that people support does in fact, in some cases, put unqualified personnel in undeserving positions. For those people who believe affirmative action works they generally are only focusing on the diversity affirmative action has brought to jobs.
Their arguments consist of wanting to see more ethnic and gender diversity in jobs that are usually being worked by white males. To many of these people quality is sometimes put aside for quantity and diversity. The strongest argument that the people who are in support of affirmative action is that having more gender and ethnical diversity brings more to the work place. This argument is very good and very accurate. Having different people in different jobs helps a company to work and receive input from all sorts of different perspectives.
Which leads to a better understanding of what a wider cross-section of the target market wants. On the other hand the people who support affirmative action also give some not so strong arguments. The one that stands out the most is that companies don’t try and fill quotas in their gender and ethnical hiring. Instead it is done entirely on skill alone. This is their weakest and most disputed argument. Especially when in many cases if two potential employees are close in skill the job will more than likely go to the potential employee who is a minority.
As in the case of Paul Johnson versus Diane Joyce. Both had comparable skills, but even though Paul Johnson’s oral interview was scored higher than Diane Joyce it was her that was selected for the job. “The Court upheld the county’s use of Ms. Joyce’s gender as a positive factor in choosing between these similarly-qualified candidates,” (Work & Family). Another reverse discrimination case, one of the most famous in fact, happened in 1978. This case was the Regents of the University of California v. Bakke.
In this case the Bakke had claimed that he was discriminated against, and that because he wasn’t a women nor was he a minority, he was not admitted to medical school. With this medical school there are 100 new students admitted each year; however, there are 16 spots that are reserved for students that are in the minority. Mr. Bakke complained that because he was a white male he was unable to get into this medical school. One problem with his argument was that even if he would have been admitted to the school originally he would only have been the 85th ranked student in this particular class.
This seriously affected the way people looked at his case. In the end the Supreme Court ruled that the affirmative action plan of the University was constitutional; however, their use of a quota was not constitutional. Therefore it was that the University had to do away with. While the case was before the courts Bakke was allowed to stay in school, and by the time that the case was done Bakke had in fact completed his schooling, thus eliminating his original complaint (Law and Politics).
Even though there is significant support for affirmative action it still has a large, if not larger, group of people who do not support it. These people believe that many under qualified, undeserving people are being hired ahead of qualified people just because of their individual race or gender. Consequently the strongest argument this group of people present is that many qualified non-minority/non-female applicants are being passed over for opportunities in favor of the minority and female applicants.
This is not only nfair to the person being passed over, but it is also unfair to the company, the consumer, and the people who have to work around this unqualified person. It is unfair to the more qualified person because they had probably put more time and effort into what they were trying to accomplish. It is unfair to the company because the unqualified person will take more time to train which in a big company could cost a lot of money. Then it is unfair to the consumer because they will receive an inferior product brought on by a lack of knowledge.
Finally it is unfair to the co-workers of this unqualified person. With this unqualified co-worker the others will have to work harder to pick up his or her slack, and fix any mistakes the person might make. Even though the people who disagree with affirmative action have a well substantiated point about people being passed over they sometimes take it a little to far. Many people who disagree with affirmative action believe that people of minority and different gender are hired immediately without being put through a process. This is not true.
Almost every minority/women who is hired has to go through the same interviewing process that the non- minority/males have to go through to get hired. In fact the people who were hired were close to the skills of the non-minorities that were not hired they were just given an edge over the non-minority/males in the selection process. However, even though these people were nearly as skilled as the ones not hired it doesn’t always mean they can do the job as well as the others. This is not to say that some of the people hired don’t fail miserably, but it also doesn’t say that they all do either.
For myself personally, I would have to side with the people who oppose affirmative action. One of the United States most attractive qualities is that in it you can be anyone that you want to be. However, affirmative action stops some people from doing that because they are not in the minority, and that is wrong. But then again so is denying someone a position just because they are of a different race or sex. To me it makes no difference if a person is black, white, female, male, or anything in between.
Whoever is the most qualified for the job should get it. If employers would only stick to hiring whoever is the most qualified for the job I feel it would be and incentive for minorities and women to become more qualified. This would eliminate the discussion on whether or not affirmative action was reverse discrimination because there wouldn’t be any affirmative action. We would all be playing on a level field, and that way the best man, or women of any color could compete for the higher paying, more illustrious jobs.
This would help our entire country. The people of the United States would be better educated, harder workers, and more competitive. Which all leads to a boom in the nations economy, and better products. So even though I found out many new things about affirmative action my opinions were not swayed. However, I did realize that the United States does not need affirmative action it only needs people to go out and get the proper education so that they can compete for jobs instead of having them handed to them.