Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Race Preferences in Universities

Asians, not white, gain when affirmative action admissions policies are ended.

Why is it so hard for some to believe that those of us who oppose race preferences do not necessarily believe that way out of (pro-white) racist beliefs?

And why are these the same people who, after learning that it's Asians who are harmed the most by affirmative action admissions programs, then try to tell whites that we shouldn't care about colorblind admissions standards because they would only help those darned Asians (not whites) anyway?

Which group really sounds racist here?

And with some further keen insight, John at Discriminations adds this:

Since the two candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination agree that neither of them should be supported or opposed because of their race or sex, how can either of them or their party continue to support the state distributing benefits and burdens on the basis of race? If presidents shouldn’t be selected or rejected on the basis of race or sex, why should college freshmen? Why is the “without regard” treatment Hillary and Obama seek for themselves not good enough for everybody else?

Some of us oppose affirmative action out of fairness and/or other high-minded principles.


Dr Pezz said...

We recently had a research unit on this topic in my classes, and the findings definitely indicated AA helped more than hindered society.

I think using the Asian versus white argument really clouds the issue. The Center for Equal Opportunity has noted for some time that both Asians and whites have been discriminated against at times. It's not a question of amount but equality.

Still, the central premise behind affirmative action is not to choose an underqualified candidate of color over a qualified white candidate; it is to give minorities and women an equal shot when qualifications are very similar. Women today still make 77 cents of every dollar a man earns (and 67 cents for women of color).

As soon as California eliminated AA in 1996 black student acceptances went down as did the number of female faculty members in the UC system.

Overall, I think it has been a positive for society.

allen said...

I've maintained for a long time that the key to understanding affirmative action in education lies in examining the way the issue of failure is handled.

First, it's handled by carefully ignoring it. Nowhere does the percentage of washouts show up as a factor in the debate and the information isn't all that easy to come by when you go looking for it. Affirmative action students flunk out of college at a much higher rate then non-affirmative action students however you cut the data. So who benefits from kids who march into college and then flunk out? Not the kids for sure.

Second, it's handled by intensive and extensive tutoring. Yet the obvious conclusion to be drawn from this significant expenditure of resources is the same inescapable conclusion that's drawn from the first point: affirmative action students shouldn't be in the schools to which they've gained acceptance.

Third, committing resources to students who will almost certainly flunk out versus students whose qualifications are marginal means that some percentage of the latter will flunk out who needn't. Affirmative action not only condemns many affirmative action students to failure who needn't fail it also condemns some number of non-affirmative action students to failure who also needn't fail.

So who could possibly benefit? Obviously the various "studies" departments since they're the natural magnets for failing affirmative actions students. But they don't have the muscle to drive affirmative action policy. They're just the happy recipients of fortuitous circumstance.

The beneficiaries of affirmative action are its supporters who, for no more effort and at no more cost then enjoying a good extrusion of moral outrage, get to pretend to themselves that they're benefiting society by righting a great wrong.

Darren said...

Dr Pezz, the 67/77 cents argument is total crap. What does it mean? That women on the whole make 3/4 or 2/3 what men make? That women make that much for the same job, given the same qualifications and time on the job?

When people start arguing about AA when qualifications are similar, perhaps I'll reconsider my position on AA. You can't be serious, though--standards are lower, significantly more qualified people lose out, and arguing differently isn't being very honest.

When California instituted Prop 209 (I think that was the one), black admissions at Berkeley and UCLA, the two most prestigious UC campuses, went down slightly. The number for the UC system overall did not.

Saying discrimination is good for society does not make it so.

Dr Pezz said...

You obviously missed this in my post: "the central premise behind affirmative action is not to choose an underqualified candidate of color over a qualified white candidate; it is to give minorities and women an equal shot when qualifications are very similar." Women and female minorities still do not receive equal pay with equal qualifications; it's well-documented.

Nowhere did I advocate lowering the bar for anyone, though I did say the aim of AA is to give an equal shot to those often overlooked.

I also never advocated discrimination; that's a misrepresentation at a minimum.

Darren said...

I don't think I misrepresented, and I don't think your facts are correct.

Shall we continue talking past each other?

Dr Pezz said...

Here are a few sources (food for thought), although the census data shows it quite well, too:

“Economist Evelyn Murphy, president of The Wage Project, estimates that over a lifetime (47 years of full-time work) this gap amounts to a loss in wages for a woman of

* $700,000 for a high school graduate
* $1.2 million for a college graduate
* $2 million for a professional school graduate.”

Article on wage gap hurting men, too:

“If working women earned the same as men (those who work the same number of hours; have the same education, age, and union status; and live in the same region of the country), their annual family incomes would rise by $4,000 and poverty rates would be cut in half.”

“…a 2003 survey by the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE) shows that women who work full-time, year-round, earn 76 percent of what men earn. According to NAFE, the gap between men's and women's pay narrowed by only 2 percent between 1991 and 2001.”

Darren said...

Any unbiased sources? How about a source that will explain how the 77 cents vs. $1 was calculated? I've seen that stat debunked too many times to invest any more effort into addressing it.

allen said...

> Women today still make 77 cents of every dollar a man earns (and 67 cents for women of color).

Self-evident nonsense.

If you could get a woman to do the same job a man is doing but for 77 cents on the dollar there wouldn't be a guy with a job in the country.

So Dr. Pezz, how's come employers insist on paying roughly a third more for the same work?

By the way, notice the deep concern about the high percentage of affirmative action students that wash out because they're in over their heads.

Dr Pezz said...

Glass ceilings and unspoken prejudice.

As one example in Motion Magazine, 1997: "There is pervasive racism in all areas of U.S. society. For example, in 1991 Diane Sawyer with ABC- TV filmed two men, one African American and one white, who were matched for age, appearance, education, and other qualities. They were followed for a day by a camera crew. The white man received service in stores while the African American was ignored, or in some cases, watched closely. The white man was offered a lower price and better financing at a car dealership. There were jobs where the African American was turned down, and apartments for rent after the African American man was told they were no longer available. A police car passed the white man while he was walking down the street but it slowed down and took note of the African American.(1) Hundreds of studies demonstrate discrimination against people of color in different areas of everyday life."

Women endure prejudice regularly. Businesses, in general, have for years consistently hired white males over women and people of color. It might be getting better but isn't yet solved.

Quincy said...

dr pezz -

you say "We recently had a research unit on this topic in my classes, and the findings definitely indicated AA helped more than hindered society."

Please explain what society has to do with it. Jobs, wages, education, and opportunity are all individual phenomena, and it is individuals who are helped and hurt by these policies.

Is an underqualified AA admission who flunks out in the middle of sophomore year helped or hurt? You can go both ways on this. He was helped in that he gained more education than he otherwise might have gotten. He was hurt because he wasted his time pursuing a path he had little chance of finishing. Would he have been better off getting a job straight out of college? Possibly. Would he have been better off spending three or four years in a JC learning at a manageable pace before pursing a bachelor's degree? Almost certainly.

Policies limiting the consensual transactions of two people/organizations based on an external idea of fairness make both sides worse off. Always. The reason is that we are each diverse in our wants and needs and will make different decisions in filling them.

Where a man might be a hypercompetitive dollar chaser in the workplace, a woman might be a more loyal, company oriented employee. The man makes $100,000 a year, but is viewed with suspicion and treated badly by his coworkers. The woman makes $77,000 a year but is valued and treated extremely well by her coworkers. Is the discrepancy in salary due to gender-based discrimination or individual characteristics and decisions?

Let's go one further and say the man's situation, created by his own decisions, is making him miserable, while the woman finds her situation extremely pleasing. Who is better compensated for their work now?

Is the voluntary situation described above acceptable to you? If not, why not? What would you change, and why would you change it?