Thursday, May 3, 2012

Things I don’t understand: Affirmative action

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about the discrimination laws, and how I don’t get them.  This week, I’d like to talk about the other side of the same coin, affirmative action.

I say it’s the other side of the same coin because affirmative action is working toward the same goal as the discrimination laws, but from the opposite side.

Now, the idea behind them seems good in concept:  get more minorities into different positions, and accepted as students into different schools.

The thing I don’t understand is why any minority would want to use it. 

As a woman, I am theoretically in minority status, according to a lot of the politicians I hear, thought that doesn’t make sense to me either, considering women make up something like 51% of the population(someone needs to learn the definition of minority, I think), so I feel I can talk of this with somewhat of an authority.

Now, imagine you are black, or Indian, or a woman.  You’ve heard the school, or job, or government position you are applying for uses affirmative action hiring practices.  After you send in your application, you interview, and are accepted to whatever it was you applied to.  Now, even if it’s not always on your mind, it may niggle at the back, ‘Am I only here because of my minority status?”

I remember when I was looking for a job, and one of the companies I interviewed with straight out said: “Yes, we are interested in you because you are a woman.”  That was incredibly hurtful to me.  They weren’t looking at me because of my experience, or my education, or even my excellent penmanship.  They wanted to interview me because I was a woman.  I didn’t end up getting that job, but mostly because I bombed the interview after that.  I think that was the only interview I EVER bombed.

To think of this from another perspective, what would an outside person think of the minority that got in?   

Sure, many wouldn’t think anything of it, but I’m sure there would be several that think, “Oh, they’re not here on merit, they’re here based on skin color.”

Honestly, if it were up to me, all interview processes would be blind.  The best qualified would get the job, and that would be it.

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