Although women typically favor affirmative action, they do exhibit a range of reactions to affirmative action programs. To understand the diversity of reactions, the present study proposed an examination of various forms of affirmative action in the context of the discrimination problem such actions were designed to address. In Study 1, 60 female university students were presented with one of six scenarios describing a situation of discrimination against women, followed by a series of potential affirmative action response options which participants rated in terms of their level of endorsement. Analyses of variance showed that, despite the range of discrimination scenarios, some of which presented extreme cases of discrimination against women, respondents consistently endorsed nondiscrimination measures, and opposed affirmative action strategies involving preferential treatment. Study 2, which preselected 43 women who valued social equality, replicated this finding and found that these results were not due to women not perceiving the presence of collective discrimination. Study 3 examined the attitudes of women in a law and security police training stream (n = 19), whose vulnerability to employment discrimination, both as a group and personally, would be salient. The women in this study endorsed all forms of affirmative action, including explicit preferential treatment in the hiring of women police officers. The implications of these results for the consideration and implementation of affirmative action programs are discussed. Copyright

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Journal Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Matheson, K, Echenberg, A. (Alan), Taylor, D.M. (Donald M.), Rivers, D. (Darlene), & Chow, I. (Ivy). (1994). Women's Attitudes Toward Affirmative Action: Putting Actions in Context. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 24(23), 2075–2096. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.1994.tb00575.x