Affirmative Action Reconsidered: Was It Necessary in Academia? by Thomas Sowell examines the claims and counterclaims
surrounding this controversial program as it has been implemented in academia. Statistics replace rhetoric and horror
stories, and a survey of history replace conjecture and surmise about the law, about minorities, and about women.
Professsor Sowell first shows that the administration of affirmative action programs has run
counter to the intent of Congress in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Whereas Congress explicitly rejected the use of
numerical quotas and placed the burden of proof on the government to demonstrate deliberate discrimination by an employer,
numerical quotas have been adopted, the burden of proof has been shifted to the employer, and the requirement of deliberate
discrimination has been ignored.
The author then considers the need for and the effects of an affirmative action program in academia.
He looks behind the coarse comparisons of black-white and male-female salary differentials by examining salary differentials
for blacks and whites (and males and females) with comparable training and credentials within the numerous academic areas of
specialization. Holding these variables constant, he finds that salaries of black academics equalled or surpassed those of
white academics both before the application of numerical "goals and timetables" in 1971 and four years after. A similarly
careful analysis of male-female salary differentials finds no support for the contention that male-female career
differentials are the result of employer discrimination. The explanation, Sowell suggests, is more likely to be found in
social mores that cause marital and family responsibilities to fall disproportionately on women.