Why do some people criticize affirmative action?

If affirmative action was eliminated hiring practices would likely worsen for minorities and women.

Why do some people criticize affirmative action?

Affirmative Action was developed to address discrimination prevalent in the U.S. society. Progress has been made as a result of civil rights action and legislation however; discrimination habits, customs, and attitudes do not change easily. There are still opportunities for change in education, employment, and housing. One advantage of affirmative action is that it reinforces equal treatment of subordinate groups. Affirmative action plans and policies are still needed to assist women, racial and ethnic groups as evidenced by the unequal pay and promotion rates between dominant and subordinate groups.

A disadvantage of affirmative action is the pressure that is placed on employers to fill quotas by lowering standards of hiring. An employer trying to meet a quota is likely to hire a person who is under qualified. This is known as reverse discrimination. However, if affirmative action was eliminated it is highly likely that hiring practices would continue to be unbalanced. The reality is that many industries have historically been white male dominated. For instance, law and medicine have always maintained higher numbers of white male professionals (Bennett-Alexander & Hartman, 2007). In contrast other industries have history of having women and blacks in lower paying positions with the least responsibilities. For example, women at one time were expected to become secretaries and clerks but never to become supervisors or managers in corporations (Bennett-Alexander & Hartman, 2007). One can easily see that since the inception of affirmative action diversity in the workplace has grown considerably and there are today far more opportunities available for minorities and women. Although there are some negative consequences of affirmative action, the policies have done a measurable benefit to expanding opportunities to minorities and women.


Bennett-Alexander, D, & Hartman, L (2007). Employment law for business. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.


Vincent Triola. Tue, Jan 19, 2021. Why do some people criticize affirmative action? Retrieved from https://vincenttriola.com/blogs/ten-years-of-academic-writing/why-do-some-people-criticize-affirmative-action

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