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Seen but unheard: navigating turbulent waters as Māori and Pacific postgraduate students in STEM.


The experiences of Māori and Pacific postgraduate students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) offer insights into how universities, particularly science faculties, currently underserve Māori and Pacific people. This article shares the experiences of 43 current or past postgraduate students at New Zealand universities. Collectively, our stories offer insight into how representation, the white imprint, space invaders/stranger making, and institutional habits, specifically operate to exclude and devalue Māori and Pacific postgraduates in STEM. We provide new understandings of the white imprint (rewarding and incentivising white behaviour), where Māori and Pacific postgraduates were prevented from being their authentic selves. Importantly, this research documents how Māori and Pacific postgraduates experience excess labour because of institutional habits. This research also provides insight into how the science funding system results in superficial and unethical inclusion of Māori and Pacific postgraduates. Our stories provide persuasive evidence that the under-representation of Māori and Pacific in STEM will not be addressed by simply bolstering university enrolments. Instead, our stories highlight the urgent requirement for universities to change the STEM learning environment which continues to be violent and culturally unsafe for Māori and Pacific postgraduates.

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