Sex, Race, and Merit

Debating Affirmative Action in Education and Employment
Faye J. Crosby and Cheryl VanDeVeer, Editors
Traces the history of this divisive national issue, as reflected in the writings of key opinion makers and in public documents


Since its inception, affirmative action has been a controversial policy, and on all sides of the issue passions run high. Sometimes commentators have looked with clarity at the deep and complex issues surrounding affirmative action, but too often facts have been in shorter supply than misinformed opinions. Sex, Race, and Merit: Debating Affirmative Action in Education and Employment is designed to enhance intelligent discussion of the issues, presenting all sides of the controversy and working to separate fact from fiction.

Sex, Race, and Merit brings together a rich array of material, including newspaper articles and essays by leading scholars. including William Bowen, Derek Bok, Barbara Bergmann, Christopher Edley, Barbara Reskin, Claude Steele, and Patricia Williams. Also featured are excerpts from primary sources, including the legislative documents that established affirmative action policy; the text of California Proposal 200, which ended such policy in that state; and excerpts from key legal cases, including the Bakke case and other recent cases.

Sex, Race, and Merit is a useful tool in eliciting thoughtful, informed, and useful debate on the subject of affirmative action. It neither advocates in favor of affirmative action, nor does it speak against it. Rather, by including both factual and polemical materials, the book allows readers to explore the contours of the debate as well as the facts being debated. It is designed for an audience of nonspecialist readers, including students from secondary school through college, but will also be useful to scholars interested in the evolution and current status of this critical policy debate.

Faye J. Crosby is Professor of Psychology, University of California, Santa Cruz.

Cheryl VanDeVeer is Director of the Document Publishing and Editing Center, University of California, Santa Cruz.

Praise / Awards

  • "Many might argue that it is impossible for anyone to address the complex issue of Affirmative Action [sic] in a clear and balanced manner, but Faye Crosby and Cheryl VanDeVeer accomplish both of these objectives in this timely volume. . . . What makes this volume so effective is the careful organization of a variety of materials and perspectives that have shaped the contours of the Affirmative Action [sic] dialogue. . . . Crosby and VanDeVeer have crafted a unique and powerful contribution to the Affirmative Action [sic] literature. The authors provide a thoughtful feminist perspective that fearlessly explores potential minefields focusing on how the interaction of gender, race and merit creates different realities and varied stereotypes such that Asian men and women face very different issues than do other ethnic men and women. The clear and engaging presentation of different perspectives and varied formats of information make this book a valuable resource for faculty, administrators, legislators and policy makers, employers and human resource personnel, and students from high school and beyond. It is a beacon for those who the authors assert value 'principled and logical reflection' and who can appreciate the viability of creating a win-win society where we broaden our definitions of merit and recognize, per Lani Guiner, that excellence is not antithetical to access, diversity and opportunity."
    —Janis Sanchez-Hucles, Old Dominion University, Psychology of Women Quarterly, Volume 25: No. 3 (2001)

  • "Insightful section of material that offers a cross-section of facts, opinion, history and status reports. Valuable for understanding the breadth and depth of the affirmative action issue."
    —Wendy Conklin, The Diversity Factor, Volume 10, No. 2 (2002)

  • "College and university planners will find Sex, Race, and Merit a thought-provoking reference. Returning to the roots of affirmative action and considering a wide variety of popular, scholarly, and legal thinking may be the most fruitful routes to developing effective approaches to promoting access and success for all in higher education and the workplace."
    Planning for Higher Education

Product Details

  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4.
  • 352pp.
  • 3 figures, 5 tables.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2000
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06734-3

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  • $33.95 U.S.