Is affirmative actionfair? Are minority groups on equal footing? Is gaining employment for minoritiesdifficult? Is education easily obtained for the minority groups of people?Affirmative action endeavors to answer all these questions, while allowingsociety 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 theseprograms (Boston, 1996). Is affirmative action fair? In 1974, a woman namedRose was turned down for a supervisory job in favor of a male. She was told thatshe was the most qualified person, but the position was going to be filled by aman, because he had a family to support. Five years before that, when Rose wasabout to fill an entry-level position in banking, a personnel officer outlinedthe womans pay scale, which was $25 to $50 a month less than what men werebeing paid in the same position.
Rose was furious because she felt this wasdiscriminating to her. She confronted the personnel officer and he saw nothingwrong with it. In 1977, a woman working for a company as a clerk was informedthat she should be at home raising a family. She allowed the comments to persistuntil 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 positionto a man because he had a family to support.
Thanks to affirmative action,situations like the ones mentioned are becoming less frequent and employers arecorrecting these situations quickly and efficiently. Affirmative action has definitely helped women and minorities in theircareers, but it has yet to succeed in the goal of equality in the business worldfor women and minorities. As more and more women are faced with discriminationin large firms, more have decided to strike out on their own. Observers arguethat women have made huge strides with the help of affirmative action. They nowhold 40 percent of all corporate middle-management jobs, and the number ofwomen-owned businesses has grown by 57 percent since 1982 (Dundul, 1995).
Affirmative action was designed to give qualified minorities a chance tocompete on equal footing with Whites (Chappell, 1995). Equal opportunitiesfor the African Americans, for the most part, has remained more wishful-thinkingthan fact. African American students are continuing to struggle for aneducation. In society today, many educational institutions offer scholarshipsfor minorities.
Ethnic minority students can further their education from theelementary level to the Ph. D level. However, for a minority student, all thefinancial assistance in the world, is not going to pay for the racialdiscrimination that they may receive, while attending a white educationalfacility. In 1982 a young African American man had been accepted into an Ivyleague institution. His family were proud of his achievements and his ability tobecome someone great. As time progressed, our African American student dressedlike a black, walked like a black, looked like a black, but to keep well withhis professors talked, and acted like his white counterparts.
Equal opportunities for African Americans continue to be hard work andwishful-thinking. African American business owners are still competing againsttheir 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 anindividual walks into an electronic store owned by an African American, theshopper may believe some of the items are stolen.
Affirmative action is awritten law requesting that minorities have equal opportunities however, societydictates how the opportunities will be given. African American workers areexperiencing an unemployment rate twice that of Whites. The low rate ofunemployment is due to low-income, low-education and low individual worth ofAfrican Americans. African Americans hold dead-end, labor-intensive, low-payingjobs.
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 existin this country. A recent Urban Benchmarks study found that of 71 metro areassurveyed nationwide, Pittsburgh had the highest rate of employment-relatedproblems among non-Hispanic whites