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This isn’t going to be a long post, just another observation creating a question.

Positive discrimination – the idea of requiring schools and business to fill certain quotas of people from minority groups. This is widely praised as a very good thing that helps give people who don’t have as many opportunities a chance at getting ahead.

It is also a highly controversial topic, raising questions of discrimination against people not in the minority (I’m not here to fight about whether this is possible), and about competence of the people accepted/hired due to positive discrimination. An example would be a business composed of 90% men having a new position open up and only interviewing women because they don’t want to appear sexist. What if the men are more qualified that the women? Is it fair to do this?

The arguments for and against positive discrimination (of which I have many) aside, it leads to the question of whether it perpetuates stereotypes. If as a woman, I am more likely to get a certain position because the company needs a certain ratio of male to female employs. How then does this make me appear in the workplace? It gives the impression that I could only get the position because of the required quotas, and that I wouldn’t be good enough to get it on my own.

I have heard similar comments made about black and hispanic students in colleges. That they weren’t really smart enough to get in, but the schools had to fill their quotas. Obviously, these opinions are what we should change, and ideally society would change so as to not have people thinking like this. But in reality, how can we help stop this thinking? My concern is, that while positive discrimination was created with great intentions, and has helped many people, it is also helping to perpetuate the stereotypes that certain people in the minority aren’t actually as good as the others, and that they wouldn’t be able to advance in the world without positive discrimination.

What do you think? Is there a way around this problem?