Affirmative Action

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Affirmative Action

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. \"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