Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

60+ Affirmative Action Statistics

Explore the comprehensive affirmative action statistics, gaining valuable insights into the impact and effectiveness of affirmative action policies in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in various sectors.
In This Post:

The main goal of affirmative action is to level the playing field by mitigating the negative factors that affect minorities and hinder their aspirations. The following аffirmative аction statistics show societies progress in this area:

Affirmative Action in Education

  • The Supreme Court determines that the University of Michigan Law School may give minorities special treatment in the admissions process. By a majority of five to four, the Supreme Court sustains the law school policy. (CNN, 2003)   
  • Before the implementation of the busing programs in 1968, 64% of African American children attended schools where students of color made up 90% or more of the student body. By 1988, that proportion had been halved, with only 32% remaining. (CECR, 2019)  
  • According to a 2019 survey by EdBuild, 53% of children in the United States were enrolled in districts with more than 75 percent white or nonwhite students. (EdBuild, 2019)
  • The Pew Research Center conducted three polls, all of which yielded encouraging results. In 2003, 64% of respondents approved “affirmative action policies meant to assist African Americans, women, and other minorities in obtaining better jobs and education.” In 2005, the percentage increased to 67%, and in 2007, it reached 70%. (Public Opinion on Affirmative Action, 2016)   
  • 15% of college-aged applicants were African Americans in 2015. 6% of non-international first-year students on these very campuses were African American in the same year. (NewYorkTimes, 2017)   
  • In the 2010-2011 school year, women received less than 40% of MBA degrees. (Catalyst, 2021)   
  • Many major subgroups believe colleges should determine admissions solely on merit. 87% of Republicans and 53% of Democrats prefer race-neutral college admission decisions. (Gallup, 2013) 
  • Despite setbacks, the overall college population from a minority perspective has increased diversity by over 57%. (Ed.gov, 2017) 
  • 63% of American adults say colleges should disregard race and ethnicity in admissions. (Washington Post, 2022) 
  • However, Black Americans are split on whether the Supreme Court should ban colleges from considering race and ethnicity in admissions, with 47% in support and 53% opposed. (Washington Post, 2022) 
  • 75% of Republicans and 46% of Democrats are against race-based admissions. (Reuters, 2022) 
  • 64% of US adults see programs designed to increase racial diversity at universities as good. (Washington Post, 2022) 
  • 62% of Americans believe that students from low-income families have an unfair disadvantage regarding college admissions. (Washington Post, 2022) 
  • 46% believe that social policies, such as affirmative action, unfairly discriminate against white people. (Reuters, 2022) 
  • 68% said grades ought to play a role in college admissions. (Reuters, 2022) 
  • 56% said that special consideration shouldn’t be given if a candidate’s relative has attended the school, and 37% believe that athletic ability shouldn’t be an essential factor for getting into college. (Reuters, 2022)
  • Three in four US adults believe that it’s inappropriate for colleges to prefer students whose family members attended the same college. (Washington Post, 2022) 
  • More than half of Americans (60%) say that it is not essential for state universities to have a student body that has a similar racial and ethnic makeup as their state. (Washington Post, 2022) 
  • Almost all Americans (93%) believe grades should be a minor factor in university admission decisions. (Pew Research Center, 2022) 
  • US adults are split on whether being the first from the family to attend college should be considered significant (46%) or not (54%) for admission. (Pew Research Center, 2022)

Affirmative Action for Women

  • A study from 2006-2010 found that from 1,109,775 Chief Executive positions in the U.S., 77.95% were male and 22.05% female. (Mn.gov, 2006-2010)   
  • In comparison to men, women are 24% more likely to lose their jobs permanently. (Catalyst, 2021)   
  • Women are less likely than men to participate in the labor force around the world. (International Labour Organization, 2020)   
  • In 2020, globally: Less than half of the women (46.9%) participated in the workforce in 2010; that number went down from 51.0% in 1990. (DataWorldBank, 2021) 
  • Men made up nearly three-quarters of the workforce (74.0%), down from 80.2% in 1990. (DataWorldBank, 2021)   
  • Women accounted for 38.8% of all labor force participation. (DataWorldBank, 2021)  
  • In 2020, women held 20.6% of the board director positions globally, up from 20.0% in 2019. (Msci.com, 2020)   
  • 41 million men (1.5 percent) offer full-time unpaid care globally, compared to 606 million (21.7 percent) women. (International Labor Organization, 2019) 
  • In comparison to fathers and women without children, mothers are less likely to be employed. (International Labor Organization, 2019)   
  • Women spend an average of 4 hours and 22 minutes a day in unpaid labor worldwide, compared to only 2 hours and 15 minutes for males. (OECD. stat, 2021)   
  • Covid-19 has extended this gap. Women currently work 15 hours more per week in unpaid labor than males. (Bcg.com, 2020)   
  • The U.S. is the only OECD member country that does not require paid family leave. (OECD.org, 2020)
  • With a median leave of 98 days, maternity leave is available in 184 economies. (Worldbank.org, 2019)   
  • Paternity leave is provided in 105 countries, with an average leave of five days. (Worldbank.org, 2019) 
  • Women and minorities are under-represented in business opportunities in almost every industry that contracts with the government. College-educated African American women make nearly $20,000 less per year than white men who have the same degree. (Harvard Business Review, 2021)
  • If US women were paid for the housework and caregiving, they would have earned $1.5 trillion. Globally, they would have made $10.9 trillion. (The New York Times, 2020) 
  • 88.8% of CEO, CFO, and COO positions are held by men, whereas women have only 11.2%. (Crist Kolder Associates, 2021) 
  • 74% of mothers wouldn’t have any savings if they took eight weeks of unpaid maternity leave. (Breeze, 2022) 
  • Almost half of the women would take a 5% pay cut to get eight weeks of paid maternity leave. (Breeze, 2022) 
  • 69% of women of working age participate in the labor force. (PWC, 2022) 
  • 76% of women work full-time, compared to 91% of men. (PWC, 2022) 
  • 60% of mothers with young children spend five or more hours on housework and caregiving. (McKinsey & Company, 2022)  
  • Women in paid jobs work the same hours as in previous years, whereas men work fewer hours. (Pew Research Center, 2022)  
  • Only 26% of women are in an executive position. (McKinsey & Company, 2023)  
  • Only 87 women get promoted to managers for every 100 men. (McKinsey & Company, 2023) 

Affirmative Action for Race

  • This percentage was up from 47% in 2001, 49% in 2003, and 50% in 2005. (NewsGallup, 2005)   
  • A study from 2006-2010 found that from 1,109,775 in U.S. Chief Executive positions.  86.57% were white, and 13.43% were a minority. (Mn.gov, 2006-2010)   
  • According to a 2015 Gallup poll, 58% of people support Affirmative Action for persons of color and other minorities. (NewsGallup, 2015)   
  • Whites are more over-represented in the college population when compared to the overall population today than they were in 1995. (Nces.ed.gov, 1993 
  • Just 15 years after racial preferences have dropped from the admissions process in California, the amount of in-state African American student applications to state universities dropped over 30% and over 40% for the Hispanic population. (Nytimes, 2017) 
  • Only 10% of minorities believe that government should play no role whatsoever in using Affirmative Action to improve social or economic opportunities for minorities. (Newyorker, 2020)
  • At the elite colleges examined by N.Y. Times, 6% of noninteractional first-year students were African American, and 13% were Hispanic. (NewYorkTimes, 2017)   
  • In Gratz v. Bollinger, a six-to-three decision overturns an undergraduate policy that used a point system to give minority candidates particular “weight.” (lawCornellEdu, 2003)     
  • 58% of Americans support Affirmative Action programs for racial minorities. Even most whites (51%) support Affirmative Action, although the percentage is dramatically lower than African Americans (76%). (Gallup, 2017) 
  • Support for government intervention in improving the social and economic positions of minorities has dwindled by more than 10% in some minority races since 2004. (Oecd.org, 2011) 
  • The median income for whites in the United States is over $44,000 per household, but it is less than $30,000 for African American households. The poverty rate for African Americans is nearly triple that of whites of the whole population. (Epi.org, 2020)
  • 62% of American adults favor affirmative action for minority groups. (Gallup, 2021) 
  • For the first time in the last five years, CFOs are more racially and ethnically diverse than CEOs. (Crist Kolder Associates, 2021) 
  • The number of Hispanic CEOs has doubled in the last ten years, yet Black CEOs remain stagnant. (Crist Kolder Associates, 2021) 
  • Between 2020 and 2021, Black CFOs have nearly doubled. (Crist Kolder Associates, 2021) 
  • The majority, or 89.6% of C-suit executives, are Caucasian. Black executives constitute 2%, Hispanics are 2.3%, and 6.1% are Asian. (Crist Kolder Associates, 2021) 
  • The median income per household in 2021 for all races was $70,784. Asian households had an income of $101,418, White families made $77,999, Hispanic households got $57,981, and Black families had an income of $48,297. (US Census Bureau, 2022) 
  • A woman of color holds only one in 20 executive positions. (McKinsey & Company, 2023) 

These affirmative action statistics show that things are changing at a slow and steady pace. It remains to be seen if affirmative action can level the playing field in the U.S. 

Written by shortlister editorial team

Affirmative Action Compliance Services

Browse our curated list of vendors to find the best solution for your needs.

Stay Informed

Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest trends, expert tips, and workplace insights!

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter

Related Posts

How to Celebrate Pride Month at Work?

Elevate inclusivity and diversity in the workplace by celebrating Pride Month. Discover practical tips to foster a supportive and affirming environment that radiates acceptance, support, and celebration for every member of the LGBTQ+ community.

The Intersectionality of Disability and Race

Explore the experiences of people of color with disabilities in the workplace as they shed light on the inequalities that arise due to ethnic, disability-related, and socioeconomic characteristics.

LGBTQ+ Inclusion in the Workplace

Creating a safe and inclusive society is impossible when the workplace does not reflect that. Thus, corporate America has some catching up to do when it comes to LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace.