Affirmative action
Overview
Affirmative action refers to policies that take factors including "race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or national origin" into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group, usually as a means to counter the effects of a history of discrimination
Discrimination
Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category. It involves the actual behaviors towards groups such as excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to another group. The term began to be...

.
The term "affirmative action" was first used in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. It first appeared in Executive Order 10925
Executive Order 10925
Executive Order 10925 was signed by President John F. Kennedy on March 6, 1961, requiring government contractors to "take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin." It...

, which was signed by President John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 on March 6, 1961, and it was used to refer to measures to achieve non-discrimination.
Encyclopedia
Affirmative action refers to policies that take factors including "race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or national origin" into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group, usually as a means to counter the effects of a history of discrimination
Discrimination
Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category. It involves the actual behaviors towards groups such as excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to another group. The term began to be...

.

Origins

The term "affirmative action" was first used in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. It first appeared in Executive Order 10925
Executive Order 10925
Executive Order 10925 was signed by President John F. Kennedy on March 6, 1961, requiring government contractors to "take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin." It...

, which was signed by President John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 on March 6, 1961, and it was used to refer to measures to achieve non-discrimination. In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson , often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States...

 issued Executive Order 11246
Executive Order 11246
Executive Order 11246, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on September 24, 1965 required Equal Employment Opportunity. The Order "prohibits federal contractors and federally assisted construction contractors and subcontractors, who do over $10,000 in Government business in one year from...

 which required federal contractors to take "affirmative action" to hire without regard to race, religion and national origin. In 1968, gender was added to the anti-discrimination list. Matching procedures in other countries are also known as reservation in India
Reservation in India
Reservation in India is a form of affirmative action designed to improve the well being of socially backward and underrepresented communities of citizens in India. There are laws in place, wherein a certain percentage of total available slots in Jobs and Education are set aside for people from...

, positive discrimination in the United Kingdom, and employment equity in Canada
Employment equity (Canada)
Employment equity, as defined in Canadian law by the Employment Equity Act, requires employers to engage in proactive employment practices to increase the representation of four designated groups: women, people with disabilities, Aboriginal peoples, and visible minorities...

.

Purpose

Affirmative action is intended as an attempt to promote
equal opportunity
Equal opportunity
Equal opportunity, or equality of opportunity, is a controversial political concept; and an important informal decision-making standard without a precise definition involving fair choices within the public sphere...

. It is often instituted in government and educational settings to ensure that minority group
Minority group
A minority is a sociological group within a demographic. The demographic could be based on many factors from ethnicity, gender, wealth, power, etc. The term extends to numerous situations, and civilizations within history, despite the misnomer of minorities associated with a numerical statistic...

s within a society are included in all programs. The justification for affirmative action is that it helps to compensate for past discrimination
Discrimination
Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category. It involves the actual behaviors towards groups such as excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to another group. The term began to be...

, persecution
Persecution
Persecution is the systematic mistreatment of an individual or group by another group. The most common forms are religious persecution, ethnic persecution, and political persecution, though there is naturally some overlap between these terms. The inflicting of suffering, harassment, isolation,...

 or exploitation
Exploitation
This article discusses the term exploitation in the meaning of using something in an unjust or cruel manner.- As unjust benefit :In political economy, economics, and sociology, exploitation involves a persistent social relationship in which certain persons are being mistreated or unfairly used for...

 by the ruling class of a culture, and to address existing discrimination. The implementation of affirmative action, especially in the United States, is considered by its proponents to be justified by disparate impact.

Quotas

Quotas are not legal in the United States. No employer, university, or other entity may create a set number required for each race.

In Sweden the supreme court has ruled that "affirmative action" ethnic quotas in universities are discrimination and hence unlawful. According to the supreme court, the requirements for the intake should have been the same for all. The Justice Chancellor said that the decision left no room for suspicions.

International policies

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination is a United Nations convention. A second-generation human rights instrument, the Convention commits its members to the elimination of racial discrimination and the promotion of understanding among all races...

 stipulates (in Article 2.2) that affirmative action programs may be required of countries that ratified the convention, in order to rectify systematic discrimination. It states, however, that such programs "shall in no case entail as a consequence the maintenance of unequal or separate rights for different racial groups after the objectives for which they were taken have been achieved." The United Nations Human/animals Rights Committee states, "the principle of equality sometimes requires States parties to take affirmative action in order to diminish or eliminate conditions which cause or help to perpetuate discrimination prohibited by the Covenant. For example, in a State where the general conditions of a certain part of the population prevent or impair their enjoyment of human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

, the State should take specific action to correct those conditions. Such action may involve granting for a time to the part of the population concerned certain preferential treatment in specific matters as compared with the rest of the population. However, as long as such action is needed to correct discrimination, in fact, it is a case of legitimate differentiation under the Covenant."

National approaches

In some countries which have laws on racial equality, affirmative action is rendered illegal because it does not treat all races equally. This approach of equal treatment is sometimes described as being "color blind", in hopes that it is effective against discrimination without engaging in reverse discrimination
Reverse discrimination
Reverse discrimination is a controversial term referring to discrimination against members of a dominant or majority group, including the city or state, or in favor of members of a minority or historically disadvantaged group such as African Americans being slaves. Groups may be defined in terms of...

.

In such countries, the focus tends to be on ensuring equal opportunity and, for example, targeted advertising campaigns to encourage ethnic minority candidates to join the police force. This is sometimes described as "positive action."

The Americas

  • Brazil
    Brazil
    Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

    . Some Brazilian Universities (State and Federal) have created systems of preferred admissions (quotas) for racial minorities (blacks and native Brazilians), the poor and people with disabilities. There are already quotas of up to 20% of vacancies reserved for the disabled in the civil public services. The Democrats
    Democrats (Brazil)
    The Democrats is a centre-right political party in Brazil, considered the main in the right-wing spectrum. Despite its former name , the party affiliates itself to the Centrist Democrat International, and the International Democrat Union. The name comes from its support to free market policies...

     party, accusing the board of directors of University of Brasília
    University of Brasília
    The University of Brasília , is one of the largest and most prestigious Brazilian public universities funded by the Brazilian federal government...

     of "nazism", questioned the constitutionality
    Constitutionality
    Constitutionality is the condition of acting in accordance with an applicable constitution. Acts that are not in accordance with the rules laid down in the constitution are deemed to be ultra vires.-See also:*ultra vires*Company law*Constitutional law...

     of the quotas the University reserves to minorities on the Supreme Federal Court.

  • Canada
    Canada
    Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

    . The equality section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
    Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
    The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a bill of rights entrenched in the Constitution of Canada. It forms the first part of the Constitution Act, 1982...

     explicitly permits affirmative action type legislation, although the Charter does not require legislation that gives preferential treatment. Subsection 2 of Section 15
    Section Fifteen of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
    Section Fifteen of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms contains guaranteed equality rights. As part of the Constitution, the section prohibits certain forms of discrimination perpetrated by the governments of Canada with the exception of ameliorative programs and rights or privileges...

     states that the equality provisions do "not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability." The Canadian Employment Equity Act requires employers in federally-regulated industries to give preferential treatment to four designated groups: Women, people with disabilities, aboriginal people, and visible minorities. In most Canadian Universities, people of Aboriginal background normally have lower entrance requirements and are eligible to receive exclusive scholarships. Some provinces and territories also have affirmative action-type policies. For example, in Northwest Territories
    Northwest Territories
    The Northwest Territories is a federal territory of Canada.Located in northern Canada, the territory borders Canada's two other territories, Yukon to the west and Nunavut to the east, and three provinces: British Columbia to the southwest, and Alberta and Saskatchewan to the south...

     in the Canadian north, aboriginal people are given preference for jobs and education and are considered to have P1 status. Non-aboriginal people who were born in the NWT or have resided half of their life there are considered a P2, as well as women and disabled people. See also, Employment equity in Canada
    Employment equity (Canada)
    Employment equity, as defined in Canadian law by the Employment Equity Act, requires employers to engage in proactive employment practices to increase the representation of four designated groups: women, people with disabilities, Aboriginal peoples, and visible minorities...

    .

  • United States
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

    . Affirmative action was first established in Executive Order 10925
    Executive Order 10925
    Executive Order 10925 was signed by President John F. Kennedy on March 6, 1961, requiring government contractors to "take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin." It...

    , which was signed by President John F. Kennedy
    John F. Kennedy
    John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

     on March 6, 1961 and required government contractors to "not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, creed, color, or national origin" as well as to "take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin". This executive order was superseded by Executive Order 11246
    Executive Order 11246
    Executive Order 11246, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on September 24, 1965 required Equal Employment Opportunity. The Order "prohibits federal contractors and federally assisted construction contractors and subcontractors, who do over $10,000 in Government business in one year from...

    , which was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson
    Lyndon B. Johnson
    Lyndon Baines Johnson , often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States...

     on September 24, 1965 and affirmed the Federal Government's commitment "to promote the full realization of equal employment opportunity through a positive, continuing program in each executive department and agency". It is notable that affirmative action was not extended to women until Executive Order 11375
    Executive Order 11375
    Executive Order 11375, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on October 13, 1967 amended Executive Order 11246.In this executive order, President Johnson justifies his measure, by claiming the following in the preamble of the order:...

     amended Executive Order 11246 on October 13, 1967, expanding the definition to include "sex." As it currently stands, affirmative action through Executive Order 11246 applies to "race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." In the U.S., affirmative action's original purpose was to pressure institutions into compliance with the nondiscrimination mandate of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
    Civil Rights Act of 1964
    The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a landmark piece of legislation in the United States that outlawed major forms of discrimination against African Americans and women, including racial segregation...

    . The Civil Rights Acts do not cover veterans, people with disabilities, or people over 40. These groups are protected from discrimination under different laws. Affirmative action has been the subject of numerous court cases, and has been contested on constitutional
    United States Constitution
    The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

     grounds. In 2003, a Supreme Court decision (Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 US 306 - Supreme Court 2003) concerning affirmative action in universities allowed educational institutions to consider race as a factor in admitting students, but ruled that strict point systems are unconstitutional. Conservatives say that state officials have widely disobeyed it. Alternatively, some colleges use financial criteria to attract racial groups that have typically been under represented and typically have lower living conditions. Some states such as California (California Civil Rights Initiative) and Michigan (Michigan Civil Rights Initiative
    Michigan Civil Rights Initiative
    The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative , or Proposal 2 , was a ballot initiative in the U.S. state of Michigan that passed into Michigan Constitutional law by a 58% to 42% margin on November 7, 2006, according to results officially certified by the Michigan Secretary of State. By Michigan law, the...

    ) have passed constitutional amendments banning affirmative action within their respective states.

South Asia

  • India
    India
    India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...


  • Sri Lanka
    Sri Lanka
    Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

    . In 1971 the Standardization policy of Sri Lankan universities was introduced as an affirmative action program for students from areas which had poor educational facilities due to 200 years purposeful discrimination by British
    United Kingdom
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

     colonialists. The British had practised communal favoritism towards Christians and the minority Tamil community
    Tamil people
    Tamil people , also called Tamils or Tamilians, are an ethnic group native to Tamil Nadu, India and the north-eastern region of Sri Lanka. Historic and post 15th century emigrant communities are also found across the world, notably Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius, South Africa, Australia, Canada,...

     for the entire 200 years they had controlled Sri Lanka, as part of a policy of divide and conquer
    Divide and conquer
    Divide and conquer may refer to:* Divide and rule, in politics, sociology and economics, a strategy to gain or maintain power...

    .

East Asia

  • Japan
    Japan
    Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

    . Admission to universities as well as all government positions (including teachers) are determined by the entrance exam, which is extremely competitive at the top level. It is illegal to include sex, ethnicity or other social background (but not nationality) in criteria; however, there are informal policies to provide employment and long term welfare (which is usually not available to general public) to Burakumin
    Burakumin
    are a Japanese social minority group. The burakumin are one of the main minority groups in Japan, along with the Ainu of Hokkaidō, the Ryukyuans of Okinawa and Japanese residents of Korean and Chinese descent....

     at municipality level.

  • People's Republic of China
    People's Republic of China
    China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

    . "Preferential policies" required some of the top positions in governments be distributed to ethnic minorities
    Ethnic minorities in China
    Ethnic minorities in China are the non-Han Chinese population in the People's Republic of China. The People's Republic of China officially recognizes 55 ethnic minority groups within China in addition to the Han majority. As of 2010, the combined population of officially recognised minority...

     and women. Also, many universities are required by government to give preferred admissions to ethnic minorities.

  • South Korea
    South Korea
    The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

    . Admission to universities is also determined by the strict entrance exam, which is extremely competitive at the top level. But most of all Korean universities at the top level are adapting some affirmative actions in cases of Chinese ethnic minority, North Korean refugees, etc. in their recruiting new students. Besides, national universities have been pressed by the Korean government, so now they are trying to meet the governmental goal which is to recruit a proportion of female professors.

South East Asia and Oceania

  • Malaysia. The Malaysian New Economic Policy
    Malaysian New Economic Policy
    The Malaysian New Economic Policy , was an ambitious and controversial socio-economic restructuring affirmative action program launched by the Malaysian government in 1971 under the then Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak. The NEP ended in 1990, and was succeeded by the National Development Policy in...

     or NEP serves as a form of affirmative action. Malaysia provides affirmative action to the majority because in general, the Malays have lower income than the Chinese who have traditionally been involved in businesses and industries. Malaysia is a multi-ethnic country, with Malays making up the majority of close to 52% of the population. About 30% of the population are Malaysians of Chinese descent, while Malaysians of Indian descent comprise about 8% of the population. Government policy provides preferential placement for ethnic Malays, and 95% of all new intakes for the army, hospital nurses, police, and other government institutions are Malays. As of 2004, only 7% of all government servants are ethnic Chinese, a drop from 30% in 1960. All eight of the directors of the national petroleum company, Petronas
    Petronas
    PETRONAS, short for Petroliam Nasional Berhad, is a Malaysian oil and gas company that was founded on August 17, 1974. Wholly owned by the Government of Malaysia, the corporation is vested with the entire oil and gas resources in Malaysia and is entrusted with the responsibility of developing and...

    , are Malays, and only 3% of Petronas employees are Chinese. Additionally, 95% of all government contracts are awarded to ethnic Malays. (See also Bumiputra
    Bumiputra
    Bumiputera or Bumiputra is a Malay term widely used in Malaysia, embracing indigenous people of the Malay Archipelago. The term comes from the Sanskrit word bhumiputra, which can be translated literally as "son of land"...

    ) The mean income for Malays, Chinese and Indians in 1957/58 were 134, 288 and 228 respectively. In 1967/68 it was 154, 329 and 245, and in 1970 it was 170, 390 and 300. Mean income disparity ratio for Chinese/Malays rose from 2.1 in 1957/58 to 2.3 in 1970, whereas for Indians/Malays the disparity ratio also rose from 1.7 to 1.8 in the same period. The Malays viewed Independence as restoring their proper place in their own country's socioeconomic order while the non-Malays were opposing government efforts to advance Malay political primacy and economic welfare. The rising tension and resentment of the Malays for the Chinese and vice versa culminated in the vicious riots of 13 May 1969.


The favoring of Malays has led to racial segregation
Racial segregation
Racial segregation is the separation of humans into racial groups in daily life. It may apply to activities such as eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, using a public toilet, attending school, going to the movies, or in the rental or purchase of a home...

 in schools and universities. Moreover, many Chinese-owned companies have avoided expansion of activities in order to avoid the 30 % Malay ownership quota. Nowadays the positive discrimination is often viewed as harmful for the people and economy.
  • New Zealand
    New Zealand
    New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

    . Individuals of Māori or other Polynesia
    Polynesia
    Polynesia is a subregion of Oceania, made up of over 1,000 islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean. The indigenous people who inhabit the islands of Polynesia are termed Polynesians and they share many similar traits including language, culture and beliefs...

    n descent are often afforded improved access to university courses, or have scholarships earmarked specifically for them.

Europe

  • Finland
    Finland
    Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

    . In certain university education programs, including legal and medical education, there are quotas for persons who reach a certain standard of skills in the Swedish language
    Swedish language
    Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

    ; for students admitted in these quotas, the education is partially arranged in Swedish. The purpose of the quotas is to guarantee that a sufficient number of professionals with skills in Swedish are educated for nation-wide needs. The quota system has met with criticism from the Finnish speaking majority, some of whom consider the system unfair. In addition to these linguistic quotas, women may get preferential treatment in recruitment for certain public sector jobs if there is a gender imbalance in the field.

  • France
    France
    The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

    . No distinctions based on race, religion or sex are allowed under the 1958 French Constitution.(http://thisnation.com/library/france.html) Since the 1980s, a French version of affirmative action based on neighborhood is in place for primary and secondary education. Some schools, in neighborhoods labeled "Prioritary Education Zones", are granted more funds than the others. Students from these schools also benefit from special policies in certain institutions (such as Sciences Po). The French Ministry of Defence tried in 1990 to give more easily higher ranks and driving licenses to young French soldiers with North-African ancestry. After a strong protest by a young French lieutenant in the Ministry of Defence newspaper (Armées d'aujourd'hui), this driving license and rank project was cancelled. After the Sarkozy election, a new attempt in favour of Arabian-French students was made but Sarkozy did not gain enough political support to change the French constitution. However, highly ranked French schools do implement affirmative action in that they are obligated to take a certain amount of students from impoverished families.
    Additionally, following the Norwegian example, after January 27, 2014, women must represent at least 20% of board members in all stock exchange listed or state owned companies. After January 27, 2017, the proportion will increase to 40%. All male director nominations will be invalid as long as the condition is not met, and financial penalties may apply for other directors.


  • Germany
    Germany
    Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

    . Article 3 of the German Basic Law
    Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany
    The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany is the constitution of Germany. It was formally approved on 8 May 1949, and, with the signature of the Allies of World War II on 12 May, came into effect on 23 May, as the constitution of those states of West Germany that were initially included...

     provides for equal rights of all people regardless of sex, race or social background. There are programs stating that if men and women have equal qualifications, women have to be preferred for a job; moreover, the handicapped should be preferred to healthy people. This is typical for all positions in state and university service as of 2007, typically using the phrase "We try to increase diversity in this line of work". In recent years, there has been a long public debate about whether to issue programs that would grant women a privileged access to jobs in order to fight discrimination. Germany's Left Party
    The Left (Germany)
    The Left , also commonly referred to as the Left Party , is a democratic socialist political party in Germany. The Left is the most left-wing party of the five represented in the Bundestag....

    brought up the discussion about affirmative action in Germany's school system
    Education in Germany
    The responsibility for the German education system lies primarily with the states while the federal government plays only a minor role. Optional Kindergarten education is provided for all children between three and six years of age, after which school attendance is compulsory, in most cases for...

    . According to Stefan Zillich, quotas should be "a possibility" to help working class children who did not do well in school gain access to a Gymnasium (University-preparatory school). Headmasters of Gymnasien have objected, saying that this type of policy would "be a disservice" to poor children.
    In 2009 the Berlin Senate decided that Berlin's Gymnasium should no longer be allowed to handpick all of their students. It was ruled that while Gymnasien should be able to pick 70 % to 65 % of their students, the other places at the Gymnasien are to be allocated by lottery. Every child will be able to enter the lottery, no matter how he or she performed in primary school. It is hoped that this policy will increase the number of working class students attending a Gymnasium. The Left
    The Left (Germany)
    The Left , also commonly referred to as the Left Party , is a democratic socialist political party in Germany. The Left is the most left-wing party of the five represented in the Bundestag....

     proposed that Berlin Gymnasien should no longer be allowed to expel students who perform poorly so that the students who won a Gymnasium place in the lottery have a fair chance of graduating from that school. It is not clear yet if Berlin's senate will decide in favour of The Left
    The Left (Germany)
    The Left , also commonly referred to as the Left Party , is a democratic socialist political party in Germany. The Left is the most left-wing party of the five represented in the Bundestag....

    s proposal. There is also a discussion going on if affirmative action should be employed to help the children and grandchildren of the so called Gastarbeiter
    Gastarbeiter
    Gastarbeiter is German for "guest worker." It refers to migrant workers who had moved to West Germany mainly in the 1960s and 70s, seeking work as part of a formal guest worker programme...

    gain better access to German universities. One prominent proponent of this was Lord Ralf Dahrendorf
    Ralf Dahrendorf
    Ralf Gustav Dahrendorf, Baron Dahrendorf, KBE, FBA was a German-British sociologist, philosopher, political scientist and liberal politician....

    . It is argued that the Gastarbeiter willingly came to Germany to help build the industry and this should be honored.

  • Norway
    Norway
    Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

    . In all public limited companies (PCL)
    Public limited company
    A public limited company is a limited liability company that sells shares to the public in United Kingdom company law, in the Republic of Ireland and Commonwealth jurisdictions....

     boards, either gender should be represented by 40%. This affects roughly 400 companies of over 300.000 in total.

  • Republic of Macedonia
    Republic of Macedonia
    Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

    . Minorities, most notably Albania
    Albania
    Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

    ns, are allocated quotas for access to state universities, as well as in civil public services.
  • Romania
    Romania
    Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

    . Roma people (gipsy) are allocated quotas for access to state universities.

  • Slovakia
    Slovakia
    The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

    . The Constitutional Court declared in October 2005 that affirmative action i.e. "providing advantages for people of an ethnic or racial minority group" as being against its Constitution.

  • Sweden
    Sweden
    Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

    . Special treatments of certain groups are commonplace in Sweden. Leveraging of the opportunities of these groups is encouraged by the state. One example is the police, who give women and people from other cultural and ethnic backgrounds concessions when it comes to testing for entrance to the police academy.

  • United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

    . In the UK, any discrimination, quotas or favouritism on the grounds of sex, race and ethnicity is generally illegal in both education and employment. Specific exceptions include:
    • The 1998 Good Friday Agreement required that the Police Service of Northern Ireland
      Police Service of Northern Ireland
      The Police Service of Northern Ireland is the police force that serves Northern Ireland. It is the successor to the Royal Ulster Constabulary which, in turn, was the successor to the Royal Irish Constabulary in Northern Ireland....

       recruit equal numbers of Catholics
      Roman Catholic Church
      The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

       and Protestants in order to eliminate the service's perceived bias towards Protestants.
    • The Labour Party
      Labour Party (UK)
      The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

       passed the Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Act 2002
      Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Act 2002
      The Sex Discrimination Act 2002 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The purpose of the Act was to exempt the selection of candidates in parliamentary elections from the provisions in the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and the Sex Discrimination Order 1976 that outlaw sexual...

      , allowing them to use all-women shortlists
      All-women shortlists
      The use of all-women shortlists is the political practice intended to increase the proportion of female Members of Parliament in the United Kingdom by allowing only women to stand in particular constituencies for a particular political party. Though the practice is available to all parties, only...

       to select more women as election candidates.

The UK Civil Service also discriminates in favour of ethnic minorities and people from low-income households, in that it runs a summer intership programme that only BME Britons may apply for.

South Africa

Apartheid

The Apartheid government, as a matter of state policy, favoured white-owned companies and as a result, the majority of employers in South Africa were, and still are owned by white people. The aforementioned policies achieved the desired results, but in the process they marginalised and excluded black people. Skilled jobs were also reserved for white people, and blacks were largely used as unskilled labour, enforced by legislation including the Mines and Works Act, the Job Reservations Act, the Native Building Workers Act, the Apprenticeship Act and the Bantu Education Act
Bantu Education Act
Bantu Education Act of 1953 was a South African law which codified several aspects of the apartheid system. Its major provision was enforced separation of races in all educational institutions. Even universities were made 'tribal', and all but three Missionary schools chose to close down when the...

, creating and extending the "colour bar" in South African labour. For example, in early 20th century South Africa mine owners preferred hiring black workers because they were cheaper. Then the whites successfully persuaded the government to enact laws that highly restricted the blacks' employment opportunities.

Since 1960s the Apartheid laws had been weakened. Consequently, from 1975 to 1990 the real wages of black manufacturing workers rose by 50 %, that of whites by 1 %.

Post-apartheid Employment Equity

Following the transition to democracy in 1994, the African National Congress
African National Congress
The African National Congress is South Africa's governing Africanist political party, supported by its tripartite alliance with the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party , since the establishment of non-racial democracy in April 1994. It defines itself as a...

-led government chose to implement affirmative action legislation to correct previous imbalances (a policy known as Employment Equity). As such, the formerly privileged white minority was compelled by law to employ previously disenfranchised groups (blacks, Indians
Indian South Africans
Indian South Africans are people of Indian descent living in South Africa and mostly live in and around the city of Durban, making it 'the largest 'Indian' city outside India'. Most Indians in South Africa are descendents of migrants from colonial India during late 19th-century through early...

, and Coloureds), collectively referred to as "blacks". A related, but distinct concept is Black Economic Empowerment
Black Economic Empowerment
Black Economic Empowerment is a programme launched by the South African government to redress the inequalities of Apartheid by giving previously disadvantaged groups economic opportunities previously not available to them...

.

The Employment Equity Act and the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment
Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment
Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment is a form of Economic Empowerment initiated by the South African government in response to criticism against Narrow Based Empowerment instituted in the country during 2003/2004...

 Act aim to promote and achieve equality in the workplace (in South Africa termed "equity"), by advancing people from designated groups. The designated groups who are to be advanced include all people of colour, women (including white women) and disabled people. Employment Equity legislation requires companies employing more than 50 people to design and implement plans to improve the representativity of workforce demographics, and report them to the Department of Labour

Employment Equity also forms part of a company's Black Economic Empowerment
Black Economic Empowerment
Black Economic Empowerment is a programme launched by the South African government to redress the inequalities of Apartheid by giving previously disadvantaged groups economic opportunities previously not available to them...

 scorecard: in a relatively complex scoring system, which allows for some flexibility in the manner in which each company meets its legal commitments, each company is required to meet minimum requirements in terms of representation by previously disadvantaged groups. The matters covered include equity ownership, representation at employee and management level (up to board of director level), procurement from black-owned businesses and social investment programs, amongst others.

The policies of Employment Equity and, particularly, Black Economic empowerment have been criticised both by those who view them as discriminatory against white people, and by those who view them as ineffectual.

These laws cause disproportionally high costs for small companies and reduce economic growth
Economic growth
In economics, economic growth is defined as the increasing capacity of the economy to satisfy the wants of goods and services of the members of society. Economic growth is enabled by increases in productivity, which lowers the inputs for a given amount of output. Lowered costs increase demand...

 and employment
Employment
Employment is a contract between two parties, one being the employer and the other being the employee. An employee may be defined as:- Employee :...

. The laws may give the black middle-class some advantage but can make the worse-off blacks even poorer. Moreover, the supreme court
Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa
The Supreme Court of Appeal is an appellate court in South Africa; it is the highest appeal court except in constitutional matters, which are ultimately decided by the Constitutional Court...

 has ruled that in principle the blacks may be favored but in practice this should not lead to unfair discrimination against the others. Yet it is impossible to favor somebody without discriminating against others.

Alternative views

A 2009 Quinnipiac University
Quinnipiac University
Quinnipiac University is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational university located in Hamden, Connecticut, United States at the foot of Sleeping Giant State Park...

 survey found American voters opposed to the application of affirmative action to gay people, 65 over 27 percent. African-Americans were found to be in favor by 54 over 38 percent.

Polls

According to a poll taken by USA Today
USA Today
USA Today is a national American daily newspaper published by the Gannett Company. It was founded by Al Neuharth. The newspaper vies with The Wall Street Journal for the position of having the widest circulation of any newspaper in the United States, something it previously held since 2003...

in 2005, most Americans
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 support affirmative action for women; with minority group
Minority group
A minority is a sociological group within a demographic. The demographic could be based on many factors from ethnicity, gender, wealth, power, etc. The term extends to numerous situations, and civilizations within history, despite the misnomer of minorities associated with a numerical statistic...

s, it is more split. Men are only slightly more likely to support affirmative action for women; though a majority of both do. However, a slight majority of Americans do believe that affirmative action goes beyond ensuring access and goes into the realm of preferential treatment. More recently, a Quinnipiac poll from June 2009 finds that 55% of Americans feel that affirmative action should be abolished, yet 55% support affirmative action for disabled people.

A Leger poll taken in 2010 finds 59% of Canadians oppose considering race, gender, or ethnicity when hiring for government jobs.

Support

The principle of affirmative action is to promote societal equality through the preferential treatment of socioeconomically disadvantaged people. Often, these people are disadvantaged for historical reasons, such as oppression or slavery.
Historically and internationally, support for affirmative action has sought to achieve a range of goals: bridging inequalities in employment and pay; increasing access to education; enriching state, institutional, and professional leadership with the full spectrum of society; redressing apparent past wrongs, harms, or hindrances, in particular addressing the apparent social imbalance left in the wake of slavery and slave laws.

Opposition

Opponents of affirmative action such as George Sher
George Sher
George Sher is a moral philosopher and political philosopher who has taught at Rice University since 1991. He chaired the department from 1993 - 2000....

 believe that affirmative action devalues the accomplishments of people who are chosen based on the social group to which they belong rather than their qualifications. Opponents also contend that affirmative action devalues the accomplishments of all those who belong to groups it is intended to help, therefore making affirmative action counterproductive. Opponents, who sometimes say that affirmative action is "reverse discrimination
Reverse discrimination
Reverse discrimination is a controversial term referring to discrimination against members of a dominant or majority group, including the city or state, or in favor of members of a minority or historically disadvantaged group such as African Americans being slaves. Groups may be defined in terms of...

", further claim that affirmative action has undesirable side-effects in addition to failing to achieve its goals. They argue that it hinders reconciliation, replaces old wrongs with new wrongs, undermines the achievements of minorities, and encourages individuals to identify themselves as disadvantaged, even if they are not. It may increase racial tension and benefit the more privileged people within minority group
Minority group
A minority is a sociological group within a demographic. The demographic could be based on many factors from ethnicity, gender, wealth, power, etc. The term extends to numerous situations, and civilizations within history, despite the misnomer of minorities associated with a numerical statistic...

s at the expense of the least fortunate within majority groups (such as lower-class whites).
American economist, social and political commentator, Dr. Thomas Sowell
Thomas Sowell
Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social theorist, political philosopher, and author. A National Humanities Medal winner, he advocates laissez-faire economics and writes from a libertarian perspective...

 identified some negative results of race-based affirmative action in his book, Affirmative Action Around the World: An Empirical Study
Affirmative Action Around the World
Affirmative Action Around the World: An Empirical Study is a 2004 nonfiction work by economist Thomas Sowell.-Summary:Already known as a critic of affirmative action or race-based hiring and promotion, Sowell, himself African-American, analyzes the specific effects of such policies on India,...

. Sowell writes that affirmative action policies encourage non-preferred groups to designate themselves as members of preferred groups (i.e., primary beneficiaries of affirmative action) to take advantage of group preference policies; that they tend to benefit primarily the most fortunate among the preferred group (e.g., upper and middle class blacks), often to the detriment of the least fortunate among the non-preferred groups (e.g., poor whites or Asians); that they reduce the incentives of both the preferred and non-preferred to perform at their best — the former because doing so is unnecessary and the latter because it can prove futile — thereby resulting in net losses for society as a whole; and that they increase animosity toward preferred groups.

Mismatching

Mismatching is the term given to the negative effect that affirmative action has when it places a student into a college that is too difficult for him or her. For example, according to the theory, in the absence of affirmative action, a student will be admitted to a college that matches his or her academic ability and have a good chance of graduating. However, according to the mismatching theory, affirmative action often places a student into a college that is too difficult, and this increases the student's chance of dropping out. Thus, according to the theory, affirmative action hurts its intended beneficiaries, because it increases their dropout rate.

Evidence in support of the mismatching theory was presented by Gail Heriot, a professor of law at the University of San Diego
University of San Diego
The University of San Diego is a Roman Catholic university in San Diego, California. USD offers more than sixty bachelor's, master’s, and doctoral programs...

 and a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, in an August 24, 2007 article published in the Wall Street Journal. The article reported on a 2004 study that was conducted by UCLA law professor Richard Sander and published in the Stanford Law Review
Stanford Law Review
The Stanford Law Review is a legal journal produced independently by Stanford Law School students. The journal was established in 1948 with future U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher as its first president...

. The study concluded that there were 7.9% fewer black attorneys than there would have been if there was no affirmative action. The study was titled, "A Systemic Analysis of Affirmative Action in American Law Schools." The article also states that because of mismatching, blacks are more likely to drop out of law school and fail bar exams.

Sander's paper on mismatching has been refuted by several law professors, including Ian Ayres and Richard Brooks from Yale who use Sander's data to show that eliminating affirmative action would actually reduce the number of black lawyers by 12.7%. A series of published replies between Sander and another team of professors puts much of his analysis in doubt.

See also

  • Achievement gap
    Achievement gap
    Achievement gap refers to the observed disparity on a number of educational measures between the performance of groups of students, especially groups defined by gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. The achievement gap can be observed on a variety of measures, including standardized...

  • Affirmative action bake sale
    Affirmative action bake sale
    An affirmative action bake sale is a campus protest event used by student groups to illustrate criticism of affirmative action policies, especially as they relate to college and graduate school admissions...

  • Angry white male
    Angry white male
    Angry white male or AWM is a derogatory term which typifies a white male who holds traditional conservative views, especially in the context of U.S...

  • Civil and political rights
  • Diversity (business)
    Diversity (business)
    The "business case for diversity" stems from the progression of the models of diversity within the workplace since the 1960's. The original model for diversity was situated around affirmative action drawing strength from the law and a need to comply with equal employment opportunity objectives...

  • Economic discrimination
    Economic discrimination
    Economic discrimination is a term that describes a form of discrimination based on economic factors. These factors can include job availability, wages, the prices and/or availability of goods and services, and the amount of capital investment funding available to minorities for business...

  • Harrison Bergeron
    Harrison Bergeron
    "Harrison Bergeron" is a satirical, dystopian science fiction short story written by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. and first published in October 1961. Originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, the story was re-published in the author's collection Welcome to the Monkey House in...


  • Jewish quota
    Jewish quota
    Jewish quota was a percentage that limited the number of Jews in various establishments. In particular, in 19th and 20th centuries some countries had Jewish quotas for higher education, a special case of Numerus clausus....

  • Minority rights
    Minority rights
    The term Minority Rights embodies two separate concepts: first, normal individual rights as applied to members of racial, ethnic, class, religious, linguistic or sexual minorities, and second, collective rights accorded to minority groups...

  • Multiculturalism
    Multiculturalism
    Multiculturalism is the appreciation, acceptance or promotion of multiple cultures, applied to the demographic make-up of a specific place, usually at the organizational level, e.g...

  • Legacy preferences
    Legacy preferences
    Legacy preferences or legacy admission is a type of preference given by educational institutions to certain applicants on the basis of their familial relationship to alumni of that institution...

  • Numerus clausus
    Numerus clausus
    Numerus clausus is one of many methods used to limit the number of students who may study at a university. In many cases, the goal of the numerus clausus is simply to limit the number of students to the maximum feasible in some particularly sought-after areas of studies.However, in some cases,...

  • Political correctness
    Political correctness
    Political correctness is a term which denotes language, ideas, policies, and behavior seen as seeking to minimize social and institutional offense in occupational, gender, racial, cultural, sexual orientation, certain other religions, beliefs or ideologies, disability, and age-related contexts,...


  • Positive liberty
    Positive liberty
    Positive liberty is defined as having the power and resources to fulfill one's own potential ; as opposed to negative liberty, which is freedom from external restraint...

  • Principle-policy puzzle
    Principle-Policy Puzzle
    In political science, a principle-policy puzzle is a disconnect between support for a principle and support for a policy supporting that principle....

  • Racism in the United States
    Racism in the United States
    Racism in the United States has been a major issue since the colonial era and the slave era. Legally sanctioned racism imposed a heavy burden on Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latin Americans...

  • Teaching for social justice
    Teaching for social justice
    Teaching for social justice is an educational philosophy designed to promote socioeconomic equality in the learning environment and instill these values in students. Educators may employ social justice instruction to promote unity on campus, as well as mitigate boundaries to the general curriculum...

  • White Guilt
    White guilt
    White guilt refers to the concept of individual or collective guilt often said to be felt by some white people for the racist treatment of people of color by whites both historically and presently...

  • Women's rights
    Women's rights
    Women's rights are entitlements and freedoms claimed for women and girls of all ages in many societies.In some places these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behaviour, whereas in others they may be ignored or suppressed...

  • Progressive stack
    Progressive stack
    A progressive stack is a technique used in some general assemblies in the Occupy movement, designed to ensure that people from marginalized groups get a chance to speak....



External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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