“No One Wants to Believe It”: Manifestations of White Privilege in a STEM-Focused College

12 Nov 2020
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Event Type

Michael Mascarenhas
Associate Professor of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley

Kelly Grindstaff, PhD
Research Associate at Lawrence Hall of Science

Zoom Meeting ID: 99130545736

The lagging behind of underrepresented minority (URM) students in higher education, and particularly in the STEM fields, is well documented. In this paper we draw on critical race theory in education to frame and present counter-narratives of URM students in STEM fields, to explicate the function of the interactions that occur between these students and their (mostly White) instructors and peers. Focus group interviews with URM students (and staff) at a STEM focused college identify three ways in which White privilege is enacted through these interactions: in group projects; in cheating accusations; and in the grading process. Our participants illuminate particular manifestations of White privilege in STEM classrooms and on campus, and we place these within the context of “colorblind” changes in higher education in the U.S.


Michael Mascarenhas is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Where the Waters Divide: Neoliberalism, White Privilege, and Environmental Racism in Canada (2012) and New Humanitarianism and the Crisis of Charity. Good Intentions on the Road to Help (2107). He has written on water, wolves, seed-saving, standards, supermarkets, family farms, and forests; examining the interconnections between contemporary neoliberal reforms, environmental change, and environmental justice and racism. This interdisciplinary body of research brings together concepts from critical race theory and environmental studies to cultivate knowledge that contributes to activism and coalition politics.

Dr. Grindstaff has over 25 years of experience in science and STEM education as a researcher, evaluator, designer and provider of professional development for teachers and outreach programs for students, and a classroom teacher. Kelly earned her PhD in Curriculum Teaching and Educational Policy at Michigan State University with an emphasis in Equity in Science Education.  She is deeply committed to fostering engagement and learning in the STEM disciplines – especially for those who have had limited access and/or are from backgrounds underrepresented in STEM fields and careers.

She is committed to programs that show students how STEM fits with their thinking, lives and communities. Her most recent publication (2019) “No one wants to believe it:” Manifestations of White Privilege in a STEM-focused college, in the journal, Multicultural Perspectives, 21(1) pp.20-29, uses focus group data to tell the story of underrepresented minority students in STEM college courses.

This event is sponsored by CSTMS.
Additional sponsorship comes from:  CSTMS

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