Affirmative Action Essay Examples and Topics

Essay Examples
Essay Topics
Brief overview
Main Ideas

Also known as positive discrimination, affirmative action includes different practices and policies within a government or an organization with the aim to include groups based on race, gender, sexuality, nationality, or some other criteria in areas where they are underrepresented. These areas include education and employment.


The term ‘affirmative action’ was first used in the Executive Order No. 10925 in the US, signed by John F. Kennedy in 1961. It included a provision that contractors of the government will “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and employees are treated fairly during employment, without regard to their race, creed, colour, or national origin”.


Affirmative action is created to bridge inequalities in pay and employment, increase the access to education and make it equally accessible to all, promote diversity, etc. It is also a supported activity that redresses past wrongs, hindrances and harms to groups or individuals in the society.


Affirmative action is different all around the world. In most countries it is based on quotas and targeted goals that aim to address past discrimination in the society and in institutions. For example, some higher education institutions today adopt policies that increase the recruitment of racial minorities. Other affirmative actions in employment we can see today are outreach campaigns, employee and management development, and targeted recruitment. However, affirmative action promoted in the form of quotas is a widely debated topic, so much that nine states in the US have banned race-based affirmative action.

Key Quotes
  • “To abandon affirmative action is to say there is nothing more to be done about discrimination.”- Coretta Scott King
  • “Affirmative action has a negative effect on our society when it means counting us like so many beans and dividing us into separate piles.” - John Kasich
Interesting Facts

Data shows that due to affirmative action in college admission offices, minorities are added the equivalent of 150 to 310 points on a SAT score.
In 2011 alone, Asian men and women earned more than their counterparts in the US, including white, black and Hispanic people.

Arguments for

Affirmative action exists to reduce discrimination, both intentional and unintentional, from societies that have been discriminating minorities and people based on race, gender, and other characteristics in the past. This is also a great way to repair the harm done in the past in our world including apartheid, the Holocaust, taking women’s right to vote, etc.

Arguments against

Many believe that minoritized group members are given special consideration and preference due to affirmative action, which becomes discriminatory toward others. By attempting to make amends for discrimination in the past, affirmative action is failing people that might have equally good merit, but aren’t part of the minority or the discriminated group. All around the world, affirmative action is highly controversial.

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