Microaggressions Faced by International Students in the US with a Discussion on Critical Race Theory





microaggressions, discrimination, Critical Race Theory, intersectionality, people of color, international students


International students make up an increasingly large portion of the US student population, especially among graduate students studying the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. In this article we analyzed the microaggression experiences of 22 international students in graduate STEM programs at predominantly white institutions. International students, often people of color (PoC), may be subject to facing discrimination within their universities. Our results break down the different types of microaggressions that our participants reported experiencing from faculty, peers and students, both on and off campus. These experiences include individuals insulting a participant's country of origin, doubting their academic ability, threatening them, and otherwise discriminating against them. Each event reported by our participants is classified into a type of microaggression and is further discussed using Critical Race Theory to connect how international students' racialized and intersectional experiences are connected to the larger societal issues of racism in the US. 

Author Biographies

Miguel Rodriguez, California State University Dominguez Hills

Miguel Rodriguez is an assistant physics professor at California State University Dominguez Hills (CSUDH). Prior to being at CSUDH, he was a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Utah (UU). In 2022, he won a Postdoctoral Fulbright Fellowship and was a finalist for AAAS Science Technology and Policy Fellow, which he declined to be at CSUDH. He is also a 2022 Jhumki Basu Fellow for NARST and received an award for excellence of research at UU. Miguel is focused on two main research topics: the first is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in STEM and the second is how students learn physics in small groups. 

Mirna Mohamed, Western Michigan University

Mirna Mohamed is a PhD student in the Mallinson Institute for Science Education at Western Michigan University. She recently graduated with her masters degree in physics in 2020 at the University of Utah, and worked there as an instructor, the following year. Her current research interests are studying Black and Latinx students in STEM. 

Ramon Barthelemy, University of Utah

Ramón Barthelemy is an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Utah. Previous to his faculty position Ramón was a Fulbright Scholar in Finland and a Science Policy Fellow in the U.S. Department of Education. His work focuses on the lives, educational experiences, and career paths of marginalized students in physics and STEM. This has included work on LGBT+ people, graduate Students of Color, and women in physics. He was the 2020 recipient of the Fulbright Finland Alumni Award, the 2021 recipient of the AAPT Doc Brown Futures award, the 2022 WEPAN Research recipient, and became a fellow of the APS in 2022. 


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How to Cite

Rodriguez, M., Mohamed, M., & Barthelemy, R. (2023). Microaggressions Faced by International Students in the US with a Discussion on Critical Race Theory. Journal of International Students, 13(3), 236–253. https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v13i3.4620