Affirmative action?

Karin E. Rengefors Karin.Rengefors at
Wed Mar 22 03:50:31 EST 1995

In article <karine.hertzberg-210395172846 at>,
karine.hertzberg at (Karine Hertzberg) wrote:

> Just a question:
> In Norway, the equivalent policy to affirmative action states that in
> certain fields (science being one, at least at universities), when a woman
> is equal in qualifications with the best male applicant, the woman should
> get the position or job. In short, the employer still gets the best
> applicant, but it's also a woman. 
> Now my question: since so many are against affirmative action in the US,
> what does it actually mean? Does it mean that a woman can be employed
> although she cannot compete with the top male applicant, or does it work
> the same way as in Norway? If the latter is the case, why are you
> complaining that this results in women getting positions they don't
> deserve? By definition, they will be as qualified as the best man and hence
> deserve it as much.
> Looking forward to some clarifying.

I'm also wondering what affirmative action ACTUALLY means in the US. In
Sweden, we have the same kind of policy which was mentioned by Karine.
However, a big debate has just started due to a new poposal on how to deal
with the low number of female professors (in Sweden, a professor is
actually the position as chair of a department), which at the time is only
7%. The minister of education has suggested that 30 new professorships
(read chair positions) should be created and filled only by women. 
Particularly women who are already professors are very opposed to this.
They believe that these women and other women who have earned their
professorships through the usual way will end up being damaged by this
proposal.  Some other people argue that this is the only way to get more
women into higher positions within the universities, and consequently get
more women into appointment boards for university positions and research
grants. I'm a graduate student and I really don't know what to believe. I
just know that half of the graduate students in biology are women, but
women professors within my field are frightingly few. Any opinions,
experiences about this? I'm really curious to hear what those of you
outside Sweden think.


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