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Why affirmative action is still needed in 2012 - Essay Example

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Affirmative action is a policy by which marginalized groups (with marginalization usually defined on the basis of gender or race or class) are given preferential treatment, usually in the form of quotas. For example, in universities, a set quota may be allocated to, for example, black people or Latin Americans in order to create a heterogeneous atmosphere and increase possibilities for racial minorities. Or a gender quota might be imposed in companies, to ensure an equal number of men and women. Whilst the focal point of affirmative action is to improve the lives of those who belong to historically marginalized sectors, one very important aim as well of this policy and perhaps its long-term goal is to achieve social integration, to break down stereotypes and biases, and to foster a more gender-fair and color-blind society. To quote Coate and Loury, in workplace affirmative action, “an important component of this question would seem to be the impact of affirmative action on employers’ stereotypes about the capabilities of minority workers. If affirmative action serves to break down negative stereotypes, then to the extent that these underlie discrimination, a temporary program of affirmative action should lead to permanent gains for minorities” (1220). What must be remembered, however, if we are to break down these stereotypes by any sort of policy, is that these stereotypes did not take place overnight, but are the products or outcomes of socially-reproduced perceptions. Women have been considered as the weaker sex, unable to carry out masculine tasks and duties requiring intellectual development. In the past, a little girl would learn from her mother that a woman’s place was at home – doing household work like cooking and cleaning and watching over young children. Indeed, societal norms have greatly affected women in many cultures. Women, in most cultures, are considered to be inferior, a situation that has continued to hinder their career progress. In many societies, men and women are assigned distinct social roles which are restricted by certain norms. The perception of the role of women in the workforce has widely changed over time in the society. Historically, the society viewed women society as in the home taking care of the husband and children. Social norms required the woman to be submissive to the husband and should not leave the home for work. Social norms treated women traits as meek and submissive, and work, especially in demanding fields like engineering, would make them lose the traits. Hence, this discouraged women to work in demanding occupations like engineering, science, and mathematics with low pay. We must bear in mind that these “dichotomous, mutually exclusive categories that shape our understanding of the world are gendered and they are key to the production and reproduction of violence at all levels” (Confrontini 333). This cultural pressure to be a homemaker and not to aspire to work professionally or to yearn for achievements such as those done by men was what impacted on access to education by girls vis a vis boys. According to the Women’s International Center: Formal education for girls historically has been secondary to that for boys. In colonial America girls learned to read and write at dame schools. They could attend the master's schools for boys when there was room, usually during the summer when most of the boys were working. By the end of the 19th century, however, the number of women ...Show more


This paper seeks to investigate whether or not affirmative action is still warranted in 2012, especially with respect to women and minority groups, and the extent to which they can access prime or high-paying employment opportunities in the United States…
Author : zgreenholt
Why affirmative action is still needed in 2012 essay example
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