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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

When an advantage is not an advantage

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Discussion of the merits and shortcomings of affirmative action (AA) has raged at all levels and in many forums and has been the concern of many policymakers, including President Clinton. Notably absent from the discussion is the perception of AA, and the effect of the angry backlash on women and minorities. Recently, the question of whether women enjoy an “unfair advantage” was posted electronically on Systers, a private organization of over 1,800 professional women in the male-dominated field of computing. The 42 responses contained strong personal stories from women at every level of professional growth who had all dealt with the issues of gender bias and AA at each step of the way.

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