Masking Inequality with Good Intentions: Systemic Bias, Counterspaces, and Discourse Acquisition in STEM Education

By Heather M. Falconer
Copy edited by Karen P. Peirce. Designed by Mike Palmquist.

This book won the award for best monograph on writing across the curriculum at the Sixteenth International Writing Across the Curriculum Conference.

CoverIn Masking Inequality with Good Intentions, Heather M. Falconer examines the impact of systemic bias on disciplinary discourse acquisition and identity development by asking “How do the norms and expectations of higher education and STEM, specifically, impact the development of scientific identity and discursive skill?” and “What role do societal markers like race and gender play in the negotiation of identity in STEM learning environments?”

Drawing on the experiences and writings of six students from historically underrepresented backgrounds in STEM, each participating in an undergraduate research program, Falconer discusses how programmatic and pedagogical choices can work to either further marginalize students and disrupt their writing and identity development as scientists or create counterspaces—spaces where students can thrive and push back against dominant, oppressive forces. Practical applications for pedagogy, curriculum, and program design are included.

Table of Contents

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Front Matter



Chapter 1. The Intersection of Language, Culture, and Power

Chapter 2. Lifting the Curtain: Working With, and Against, White Institutional Presence in Science

Chapter 3. The Psychosocial Costs of Race- and Gender-Evasive Ideologies

Chapter 4. Performing Race and Gender in Science

Chapter 5. Structuring Communities of Understanding and Support

Chapter 6. Building Equity with Counterspaces


Appendix. Methodological and Analytical Procedures

About the Author

Heather M. Falconer is Assistant Professor of Professional and Technical Writing at the University of Maine, Orono. She is a co-editor of the WAC Clearinghouse Perspectives on Writing book series, co-chair of the Research and Publications Committee of the Association for Writing Across the Curriculum, and a member of several editorial and regional boards. Her research focuses on the intersections of culture, discipline, and pedagogy, with an emphasis on creating inclusive educational spaces. Her work has appeared in journals including Written Communication, The WAC Journal, and the Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, as well in edited collections.

Publication Information: Falconer, Heather M. (2022). Masking Inequality with Good Intentions: Systemic Bias, Counterspaces, and Discourse Acquisition in STEM Education. The WAC Clearinghouse; University Press of Colorado.

ISBN: 978-1-64215-160-2 (PDF) | 978-1-64215-161-9 (ePub) | 978-1-64642-389-7 (pbk.)
DOI: 10.37514/PRA-B.2022.1602

Digital Publication Date: October 14, 2022
Print Publication Date: TBD

Contact Information:
Heather M. Falconer:

Practices & Possibilities

Series Editors: Aimee McClure, Clarke University; Mike Palmquist, Colorado State University; Aleashia Walton, University of Cincinnati
Associate Editor: Jagadish Paudel, University of Texas at El Paso

Acrobat Reader DownloadThis book is available in whole and in part in Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF). It is also available in a low-cost print edition from our publishing partner, the University Press of Colorado.

Copyright © 2022 Heather M. Falconer. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License. 160 pages, with notes, illustrations, and bibliographies. This book is available in print from University Press of Colorado as well as from any online or brick-and-mortar bookstore. Available in PDF and ePub formats for no charge on this page at the WAC Clearinghouse. You may view this book. You may print personal copies of this book. You may link to this page. You may not reproduce this book on another website.