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Affirmative Action-Encyclopedia Britannica Online

Affirmative action, in the United States, an active effort to improve employment or educational opportunities for members of minority groups and for women. Affirmative action began as a government remedy to the effects of long-standing discrimination against such groups and has consisted of policies, programs, and procedures that give preferences to minorities and women in job hiring, admission to institutions of higher education, the awarding of government contracts, and other

social benefits. The typical criteria for affirmative action are race, disability, gender, ethnic origin, and age.

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