Affirmative Action

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Affirmative Action

A series of policies a government or organization pursues to help a given demographic group, especially a historical minority, in work and/or education. Affirmative action may be mild; for example, race may be one of a number of factors a university considers when deciding admission. On the other hand, it may impose stringent requirements; for example, a government may oblige companies to abide by gender quotas when hiring.

Affirmative action as a policy is quite controversial. Proponents argue it helps engender equality among groups in society. Critics contend it does (or at least can) reward less qualified persons at the expense of more qualified persons.

The term "affirmative action" is predominantly American. The concept is called positive discrimination in the United Kingdom, employment equity in Canada and reservation in India.