John Malik

Efforts Can Be Made to Make Women & Men More Equal

Affirmative Action procedures are in place by the U.S. federal government. Both in the private and public sector, these policies look to level disadvantages. Despite criticisms, these programs can be very effective.
The United States has an affirmative action policy that must be upheld by all contractors and sub-contractors working on behalf of the federal government. It says that, "affirmative action must be taken by covered employers to recruit and advance qualified minorities, women, persons with disabilities, and covered veterans. Affirmative actions include training programs, outreach efforts, and other positive steps." Other types of affirmative action—both at schools and in private workplaces—work to mitigate the marginalization of people of color, disabled people, and LGBTQ+ people. Affirmative action began under President John F. Kennedy in the 1960s. The idea was that fighting against discrimination was not enough; the government had to actively do something to create a more equal world. Those policies can play out in terms of quotas for certain marginalized groups, or it can simply mean taking into account a person's identity when making hiring choices. Affirmative action is sometimes criticized by white conservatives who claim that qualified white candidates lose out because of these policies. There is little evidence to support that, according to experts. “There is very little hard evidence to prove that a minority hire almost always took place at the expense of a better-qualified white person,” law professor Melvin Urofsky, author of “The Affirmative Action Puzzle,” told the New Yorker.
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For 100 years, labor laws for women have been in place in the United States. Women-specific labor policies have existed for just as long and, together with labor laws, have helped reduce inequality and protect the working population.
For over the past century, the U.S. has had a labor department, meant to guide policies and legislation for workers. Labor activists in the first decades of the 20th century fought for such rights as sick pay, vacation days, and benefits for injured workers. By the 1930s, the secretary of labor would establish the five-day work week, paving the way for other progressive reforms. The United States Department of Labor has had a Women's Bureau for 100 years. The first law was passed 100 years ago and gave the bureau the right to "formulate standards and policies which shall promote the welfare of wage-earning women, improve their working conditions, increase their efficiency, and advance their opportunities for profitable employment.” During and after the Great Depression, labor protections were hugely expanded, establishing unemployment benefits, social security, and a federal minimum wage. The New Deal was designed primarily by a woman, Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins. The protections established throughout the 20th century were designed to reduce inequalities and to protect workers—of all identities—from being exploited.
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