Why Women Approve of Affirmative Action: The Study of a Predictive Model

France Veilleux, Ann M. Beaton, Francine Tougas
Published Online:
27 Sep 2007
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 26 Issue 6

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The self‐interest model has often been used to predict the reactions of advantaged groups to affirmative action. It is argued that self‐interest also plays a role in the genesis of attitudes of disadvantaged groups, such as women. More precisely, it is hypothesised that considerations of personal interest have an impact on considerations of collective interest which in turn have an impact on the sense of collective relative deprivation (CRD). In the past, it was shown that women who felt collectively deprived approved of strategies designed to eliminate systemic barriers. No link was found, however, between CRD and preferential treatment. Women, in majority, were opposed to this strategy. On the basis of a model introduced by Taylor and McKirnan (1984), it is argued that women who have experienced discrimination on the basis of sex in spite of the introduction of affirmative action strategies may support preferential treatment. The hypotheses were integrated in a model and tested using LISREL causal modelling. In total, 197 female francophone workers participated in the study. They were all employed in a large firm where in the last five years attempts were made to reduce sex asymmetries. These efforts however were not successful; the percentage of women in non‐traditional jobs increased by only 2%. The proposed model was tested successfully. The results are discussed in light of previous paradigms and practical implications.

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