WGBH Journal; MCI Framingham, Affirmative Action, and Disability Rights
Good afternoon and welcome. This is GBH Journal and I'm Bill cavernous. On today's edition of The Journal we'll have a second segment tonight subseries on MCI Framingham the Massachusetts State Prison for Women. We'll have a report on some problems encountered by women in the implementation of formative action programs. And we'll hear about legislation involving the rights of an often overlooked minority group the handicapped. Give me you me me. We are good. Let me
just say me that thing Young me with let me. The images of prison guards tend to be brutal white and male. There are male guards in Framingham prison for women and there are stories of humiliation if not of brutality but most of the guys in Framingham are women. Many responsible for prison dormitories housing 30 women each. Who are these prison guards and why they did do they do the job they do as part of her two week visit inside MCI Framingham. Any signs ask inmates to comment on guards and guards to comment on themselves. The contradiction between helper and keeper appears to find its resolution for guards
Brennan and Landrigan in a kind of protective sometimes motherly attitude towards inmates who themselves often express resentment when treated like children. With the long awaited Supreme Court decision on affirmative action or the so-called Baki case finally settled corporations universities and other institutions are taking a second look at their own affirmative action programs. A curious note in relation to the Bacchae case is that the nine justices did not bring up women
within its jurisprudence. A random poll of a number of Boston institutions showed that there will be little substantial change in affirmative action programs for women. But that factor does not change some of the divisions existing in the Equal Employment Opportunity Programs. Prior to the bucket ization. Reporter Greg Fitzgerald prepared this report on the conflicts of affirmative action programs and the problems men and women have when the topic of discrimination is brought up. One of the first positions created in many business areas when the federal government first became serious about equal employment opportunities for women was the affirmative action officer. Many institutions now have such an officer who reports to a personnel director or the company vice president. The opening of this position alone led to hundreds of women entering management level jobs but not all companies hired women and in many cases male affirmative action officers created communication problems. Makhaya Baker Gomez is an Affirmative Action specialist for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Recently Gomez and other affirmative action officers convened in Cambridge had an affirmative action conference sponsored by the Cambridge YWCA. Gomez told her audience in Cambridge that if men are to be part of the affirmative action system they will have to learn how to communicate better with women. Affirmative action person and I asked him whether he had many women that were coming to him asking him questions about the frum intervention program coming to him with complaints about things that were happening and he said you know it's really strange. I haven't seen one woman come to my door. Not one woman complaining or just saying hi are you doing or in any kind of contents. He said but I've seen a number of men come to my door complaining about what affirmative action is not doing for them. And I asked him to look at that and determine whether in fact the reason why these women were not coming to him was the way in which he was presenting the affirmative action program in that agency.
The important thing to remember is that an affirmative action officer has got to be sensitive has got to be aware of everything when I mean everything you have to know where there's a daycare center for this woman who doesn't have any way to send the child and she's having problems getting to work and she's getting to work late. You have to know those things. You have to be sensitive and humane about your contacts with people. Another conflict within many affirmative action programs which women run into is that of charges that white women must compete with minority males for advancement. Evelyn Robert what an affirmative action officer for the city of Cambridge claims Affirmative Action for Women has advanced faster than affirmative action for minorities. There's a danger says rather when that employers may use the race argument against women when it comes time for advancement. Women were included in affirmative action plan basically because of the women's liberation movement. They were vocal.
And there was a lot of them. Most of them were professional women. But it's gotten to the point the women's movement has quieted down and from the reaction a lot of women have become professional white women now have found some jobs. OK so are we going to allow the employers to use them to dismiss minorities and black males. OK I don't want to see this program from interaction problem become a displacement problem for black males. Now my own interpretation of from of actual problems that we have to watch out and make sure that our employers and the people that we're working for don't turn it around and use it against us because I think basically employees unconsciously now are less threatening or less threatened by females. I think they're perceived less threatened because the male female will you know they already you know how well dear how are you doing you know. I mean if you occasionally say hello dear don't you look cute today in that suit. You may somewhat. You know I mean you may put her back on a level but
right off the bat. They perceive a different role whereas a male may be why the minority is perceived as a threat. I mean they're they're equal. OK they may be after their job but they never see. That may be changing now but I think right now it's hurting the minority ma'am you know that may be my own outlook somebody could fight you on that. But I think you know I think it hurts the mind you know and I think women I don't think we can use that though I think we have to say to them OK there's a place in affirmative action for women. OK. White women. But you would allow them to use it against everyone. That's what they're doing you know trying to pit one group against another is enough to go around. Evelyn Robert one for a lot of action officer for the city of Cambridge the men are not necessarily evil male chauvinist they're only themselves behaving the way they're taught to behave and reacting to the pressures the corporation puts on them. Rosabeth Moss Kanter is associate professor of sociology at Yale and a consultant to
industry government and other groups on social policy. Recently a large corporation allowed catarrh to research the role of men and women within the corporation. The result was a published work entitled men and women of a corporation. Recently BusinessWeek magazine asked 43 corporations chosen for their preeminence in 13 major industries to identify their top ranking women. Only seven GM J.C. Penney Georgia-Pacific General Mills Federated Department Stores General Electric and General Foods named any women who by any stretch of business definition could be called top management. Researcher cattery says most women successful in affirmative action programs are in the mid management level. That factors she says puts all the pressure on mid management males. And although she is an aggressive supporter of affirmative action she does have sympathy for the men in the middle. What looks like discrimination are what happens to women higher up who often are forced into the position of being a token because there are so few of them having to represent all women
and the men around them often don't treat them very well to give them a hard time. And some of that we can say is because those men as individuals are not the nicest people in the world but I doubt it. I really think it's because again the structure of the situation is a set up. It's very hard for anybody who's the rare or the only to look good. And so I do tend not to blame the individual prejudices of men so much as I do. I want to look at what. The structure and the career patterns available in the corporation due to all of its people. One of the biggest pressures is that there tends to be a scarcity of better jobs closer to the top so there's a certain amount of competition. And since not all of the man can rise after a certain point it's often the ones who themselves are stuck who have hit dead ends in their careers who have maybe they're in their mid 40s to early 50s they're beginning to think about retirement they're not going to go any further and they are often the
ones that are asked to make room for women not the very very top. And I do have a certain amount of sympathy for those men and they're often the overlooked category in the organization more effort is spent to train young people more attention is devoted to the superstars who are still rising. These people get called Dad and they are dead enders. They get called shelf sitters Deadwood and no one pays much attention to them. But they are in the vulnerable position because it's their jobs that women are beginning to compete for. One more pressure which catarrh feels women must deal with in the area of affirmative action is tokenism because of the small numbers of women at the top. The ones who do make it find themselves under constant scrutiny from their male counterparts and sometimes according to Kantar the pressure of tokenism discourages women from seeking top level positions. In my next report on affirmative action I'll take a look at the Boston plan and minority involvement in construction Journal. I'm Greg Fitzgerald.
Discrimination usually brings to mind examples of unfair treatment of people according to racial and sexual types. Discrimination does apply however to members of any minority which has not been granted his constitutional right handicapped persons are a minority group whose constitutional rights are not always protected by law. Aid for handicapped persons and provisions suited to their needs are often overlooked in legislation which provides guidelines for the treatment of minority members. Tomorrow the American coalition of citizens with disabilities is sponsoring a series of rallies in cities across the country to bring attention to the needs of handicapped persons in the area of public transportation. A demonstration in Boston is scheduled to begin at the Ashmont subway station. And to conclude with a rally in Harvard Square Maureen Kelleher looked into the issue of the legal rights of handicapped people in anticipation of tomorrow's rally and prepared this report.
People were more used to seeing handicapped people in the course of their daily lives in restaurants on television. In elementary readers in school. Etc. I think people would become more accommodating and wouldn't have such a bad reaction to seeing or dealing with handicapped people in 971 Pennsylvania decision brought on behalf of 14 mentally retarded youths provided all retarded children access to a free public education. Since that decision there has been a movement to recognize the long neglected rights of the handicapped as a minority group at the base of the movement is the realization that handicapped individuals deserve the same rights of due process as any other citizen. Whether this be in the area of employment housing transportation recreation or education. Several laws recently implemented on both the national and local level focus on both the
general discrimination suffered by the handicapped and the specific problems faced by the handicapped in the area of education. Dr. James Crimmins is a professor of special education at Boston College. I spoke to him recently about some of these laws. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 more commonly known as Section 5 0 4 basically prohibits discrimination against any handicapped person and any agency which receives federal funds. The history of it is somewhat interesting in that the bill was passed in 1973 but the regulations for it were not signed into effect until June of 977. Why. Primarily I think because there was a lot of lobbying by groups who feared that it would be very costly to implement this this new law. There is a section
which calls for the removal of architectural barriers and the providing of program accessibility to the handicapped which as you can imagine might be very expensive in some older buildings which have no services for providing access for the handicapped so I think people were becoming very fearful that it was going to be a tremendously expensive endeavor and therefore put pressure on Washington to delay the signing of the regulations. Would you discuss a little bit about Chapter 7 66 and what implications that has for the state of Massachusetts in terms of mainstreaming. OK. Chapter 7 66 was passed in 1972 regulations in effect 1974 and it's a it's a comprehensive special education legislation. The idea behind it is to as much as possible I
think to integrate handicapped children with normal children whenever possible. Now mainstreaming should not mean wholesale dumping of handicapped kids out of what we used to do which was self-contained special classes or back into regular classes. The ideas are very good. One of the big problems was that the money was not provided to do a lot of the work that should have been done hand-in-hand with mainstreaming the ideas in service training with teachers who were going to get these kids and things of that nature were not done broadly enough I think when the legislation was first enacted. What about public law 94 142 what exactly is that. Public Law 94 142 is also referred to as the education for all handicapped children act. And this is a piece of federal legislation which was passed as a law in
1975 and which goes into effect on September 1 of one thousand seventy eight this coming September. One interesting thing about 94 142 is that in many ways it was modeled on the Massachusetts law chapter 766. Basically there are several important issues in the law. There are also some controversial issues in there and some of the things that that the law does is that it does define who handicapped kids are and this is a controversy in the field because many people feel that we should not label handicapped children. Another important thing that it does is that it says that all children handicapped or not must be provided with a free appropriate public education. This was not the case before hand. Another very important point in the law is the provision of what's called the individual ised educational
plan or IEP. The preferred placement for all handicapped kids is in the regular classroom with other kids. The in the individualized educational plan goals are established for a child when he has achieved certain goals. He should be moved from a more restrictive into a less restrictive program that is for example if a if a student is spending time working in a let's say a day school which is outside of the public school program. The plan should identify certain objectives that he has to meet upon completion of those objectives he should be able to move back into the public school. How much this will happen remains to be seen. But this whole idea of least restrictive alternative is one that I think is going to be very important as we go along. There needs to be I guess a public education on many levels
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- This episode of WGBH Journal includes three features.The first story is part of a series about MCI Framingham, the Massachusetts State Prison for Women (part of the segment is missing). The second feature reports on women encountering problems with the implementation of affirmative action programs following the Supreme Court ruling in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. The episode concludes with a feature covering the constitutional rights of people with disabilities in anticipation of an upcoming demonstration in Boston organized by the American Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities.
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Host: Cavness, Bill
Reporter: Sans, Amy
Reporter: Kelleher, Maureen
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