Women and Gender Bias the Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

Under these circumstances, an ethical dilemma is born. Should society control its development or leave it to chance? And in the case that it should control it, which categories should it help?

If the person in the above mentioned example is helped, we could assume that in a certain way, the person who was not helped because he or she already disposed of the necessary means, the latter one might be considered as having been subject to reverse discrimination. Yet we ought to look at the picture from an utilitarian point-of-view. Under these circumstances we might state that society as an overall system has more benefits from helping the categories which are in bigger need of help (for example the ones mentioned in the principles of affirmative action).

But what are the exact principles of affirmative action: let us take a look at them and analyze them. Title VI, section 601 states "no person in the United States shall, on grounds of race, color or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied benefits of or be subject to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal assistance." ("zianet.com").

It is clear that the article refers to the manner in which the state positions itself towards the actions of its official organs. In other words the state declares itself forced not to deny anyone any of his rights as expressed through the state organs- based on criteria of race, color and nationality (so far nothing is mentioned about women's status).

Title VII, section 703 is more specific in addressing the issue of employment: "(a) it shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer (1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or (2) to limit, segregate or classify his employees in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin."("zianet.com").

If the first title referred to a more general entity, the state, the second one aims to define the position of the employer, thus making sure that all the aspects which have to do with the labor market (from selection, recruitment, motivation, treatment, payment, etc.) are not to be biased by criteria having to do with race, color, religion, sex and national origin. We notice that the list of criteria has been expanded and that the article mentions sex and religion as well. While religion has been a strong discrimination factor, its presence was not that solid in the area of employ.

The sex criterion on the other hand has always been present and has led to various social reactions such as the feminist movement. We also notice that the two titles formulate negative freedoms, in the sense that they refer to those practices which both the state and the entity of the employer must refrain from. This implies that discrimination practices exist and that there is need for official regulation in order to prevent it.

The titles analyzed so far do not say that employers are encouraged to favor categories which in the past have been victims of discrimination, but that discrimination ought to be avoided at all costs in order to protect the rights and freedoms of the American citizens. To conclude with, the manner in which the laws are formulated does not encourage reverse discrimination. On the contrary, it is meant to make sure that no individual is subject to discrimination processes as far as the employment issues are concerned.

This is confirmed by the following section which states "Nothing contained in this title shall be interpreted to require any employer, employment agency, labor organization, or joint labor-management committee subject to this title to grant preferential treatment to any individual or to any group because of the race, color, religion, sex, or national origin of such individual or group on account of an imbalance which may exist with respect to the total number or percentage of persons of any race, color, religion, sex, or national origin employed by any employer, referred or classified for employment by any employment agency or labor organization, admitted to membership or classified by any labor organization, or admitted to, or employed in, any apprenticeship or other training program, in comparison with the total number or percentage of persons of such race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in any community, State, section, or other area, or in the available workforce in any community, State, section, or other area. " ("zianet.com")

Things are pretty clear. Imbalances might exist, but this is not a reason for employing entities to favor people based on their sex, race, nationality, etc. In order to solve the problem of these imbalances. Those who declare that affirmative action is reverse discrimination can be proven wrong based on this supportive section which explicitly prevents it. It is important to underline the manner in which the section draws attention to the fact that the title is not subject to the free interpretation of the employing entities. This means that if an employer performs discrimination or reverse discrimination acts, then he can not invoke the affirmative action principles in order to exonerate himself. In this manner the title prevents people from becoming social crusaders trying to impose a social order based upon their own subjective values.

Moving on to section 704 of the title VII, it states that "It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer, labor organization, or employment agency to print or publish or cause to be printed or published any notice or advertisement relating to employment by such an employer or membership in or any classification or referral for employment by such a labor organization, or relating to any classification or referral for employment by such an employment agency, indicating any preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, except that such a notice or advertisement may indicate a preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination based on religion, sex, or national origin when religion, sex, or national origin is a bona fide occupational qualification for employment. "("zianet.com")

Bona fide is Latin for good faith, therefore the law states that all the actions and initiatives of the employing entities must e done in good faith, for the mutual advantage of himself and the employed party. Critical voices state that through affirmative action "women and minorities as not becoming successful because they are not reaching their true potential through hard work and instead are trying to cheat the system and cover it up .

By having affirmative action, one is basically undermining the skills of women and minorities by saying they are not capable of reaching the potentials and capabilities that white men are and therefore women and minorities need extra help at the expense of white males and those who are already working hard to qualify for schools and jobs ." ("open salon.com").

In other words if affirmative action supports the employment pf women and African-Americans, this encourages them to become sloppy and lazy. Yet, saying that a law against discrimination is an element which favor people in general and women in particular to pay less attention to their professional formation because they know that they will get a job anyway because of their gender seems to be exaggerate.

Before taking a look at some data regarding the division of the labor market in the U.S.A., we could state that regardless of its good intentions, affirmative action might give way to controversies. From the already analyzed information it has become clear that its purpose is to protect the categories which have been subject to employment discrimination before and here we are speaking mostly about women and African-Americans. It could be stated that affirmative action tries to defend the rights of the minorities. And here we could ask ourselves whether there could be a clash between the rights of the minorities and the ones of the majority.

Is there a bigger unemployment rate among women and African-Americans or among white males? Is it fair to protect just one of the categories? Is affirmative action really doing a protection job for a minority or is it that it is simply meant to prevent any kind of discrimination?

It is safe to say that the criteria mentioned by its articles were necessary because in the past women and African-Americans have not enjoyed the same rights and occupational benefits as the rest of the population. Including a clear criterion…

Sources Used in Document:


"Access, equity and diversity, American association for affirmative action," Retrieved October 27, 2010 from http://www.affirmativeaction.org/resources.html

Anderson, TH. The pursuit of fairness: a history of affirmative action, Oxford University Press, 2005

"Affirmative action" in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Retrieved October 27, 2010 from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/affirmative-action/

"Affirmative action- pros and cons, the origins of, legal treatment of, political and social debates, the future" in Encyclopedia. Jrank. Org., Retrieved October 25, 2010 from http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/articles/pages/5916/Affirmative-Action.html

Cite This Thesis:

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