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The phrase affirmative action was first used in a racial discrimination context in Executive Order No 10925 issued by President John F Kennedy in 1961 This executive order indicated that federal contractors should take affirmative action to ensure that job applicants and employees are treated without regard to their race creed color or national origin The civil rights legislation of the 1960s followed in the same vein Kennedys executive order implied equal access and nothing else From these humble beginnings a phrase intended to enforce racial neutrality and color-blindness has extended into such ideas as leveling the playing field and creating equal opportunitiesA shift in emphasis from equality of prospective opportunity toward statistical measures of results was already under way by the time the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was debated in Congress Quotas and the right of minorities and women to have a correct percentage of their population employed have since become rallying cries for civil rights activists Affirmative action as it has been applied is detrimental to the operation of the job market to white males and to the groups it is supposed to benefit First affirmative action promotes the hiring of less skilled workers It sometimes forces employers to choose the best of the minority workers they can find regardless of whether they have the required job skills For example Duke University recently adopted a resolution requiring each department to hire at least one new black for a faculty position by 1993 However only six blacks received PhDs in mathematics in 1987 in all of the US casting doubts as to whether it would be possible for each department to find a wellqualified black much less hire one Colleges and universities frequently also have quotas for how many blacks it is necessary to admit to round out their freshman classes An example is the admission practices at Berkeley Only 40 per cent of the entering class in 1988 were selected solely
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