InfoSec Seminar: Talking whiteness: Black women's narratives of working in UK Higher Education STEM institutes

Speaker: Kat J. Cecil

Date/Time: 05-Jul-2018, 16:00 UTC

Venue: Robert 4.21




"It's my skin, I can't just scrub it off" -- Talking whiteness: Black women's narratives of working in UK Higher Education Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics 


This talk is about whiteness, and the pervasive harm/s of white privilege and white fragility in Higher Education (HE) science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). My goal is to highlight that whiteness should not be the invisible norm to Blackness, rather it has to be interrogated critically if we are to better understand the marginalisation that occurs in white spaces such as universities. The talk draws on ethnographic interviews, specifically the narratives of Black female scientists currently active in HE STEM institutes, who experience first-hand what it is to inhabit white spaces as non-white bodies. I argue that whiteness functions as a ‘bad habit’ -- which in turn effects what white bodies are allowed, and what non-white bodies are denied in HE institutes, and makes white subjects unable to accept the phenomenology of whiteness, which acts as a block against anti-racism/a barrier to anti-racist work. Only by honestly confronting these blocks and barriers can white subjects fully engage in anti-racist practice.



kat cecil is a third-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Science and Technology Studies, University College London. Her work is centred around Black feminist theory, critical race theory, and critical pedagogy. kat’s research draws attention to prejudice, power, and privilege within higher education providers, specifically within STEM departments, and seeks to collectively form strategies and tactics to disrupt these prejudices. Alongside her PhD kat has worked as a researcher for the OVPR on issues surrounding social and epistemic injustices in higher education, and she will be joining three large national projects (Aspires2, Enterprising Science, and Youth Equity & STEM) headed by Professor Louise Archer at IOE in September 2018. kat obtained her MA at King's College London (philosophy) and her BA at Goldsmiths, University of London (fine art). 


For more info on kat’s research: 



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