Sometimes it is referred to as affirmative action, which sounds good, but has also been described as ‘a necessary, but imperfect, remedy for an intractable social disease.’ (Plous, 2003)
The various groups concerned may be defined by size, ethnic group, race, religious affiliation, or gender, as well as other possible factors. Such discrimination may be deliberately aiming to redress various inequalities, in cases where members of minority groups have been denied access to privileges which are available to members of the majority group. For instance white middle class students may have had better early educational advantages than members of other groups, so colleges may have a policy of deliberately accepting at least a proportion of students from other backgrounds. The latter however may have scored lower on tests than some white students, who will not be offered places as a result of this policy.
According to Barron’s Law Dictionary (2003) the term has been used to describe the practice of reserving places for minorities in schools and in corporate promotions, and the hiring of minority group members, such as Afro-Americans who have less job seniority than possible white candidates.
A good example of this is a case brought by fire fighters who had taken and passed an examination which would normally have entitled them to promotion. This happened in New Haven, Connecticut in 2004. (Richey, 2009). The local authority disregarded their positive results because no Afro-American had scored highly enough to pass the examination. They were being discriminated against simply because they were white, i.e. they were members of a minority group. City officials stated that they aimed to add diversity among management within the fire service. They had therefore made efforts to come up with a test process that would limit any bias that might perhaps disadvantage candidates from