Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Jane Synge




Research has demonstrated that the inequalities of the larger society are perpetuated and reinforced in the educational setting. Furthermore, recent literature demonstrates that the inequalities of race, class and gender shape students' experiences in graduate school.. This thesis explores how these inequalities shape students' experiences. More specifically, we explore how the inequalities of race, class and gender affect senior students in Ph.D. programmes. We demonstrate that these inequalities have implications for the construction of knowledge and the extent to which students contest the dominant ideology. This study was conducted at a medium-sized Ontario university. We undertook a qualitative study. Intensive interviews were conducted with graduate students. A snowball sampling technique was used. They came from various departments in the following areas--- the humanities, the social sciences and the physical sciences. We used a theoretical. framework emphasizing the concepts of ideology, consciousness, perceptions, subjectivity and structure.The data reveal that students possess varying levels of consciousness of race, class and gender. Some students perceive that their social position has given them special advantages. This perception is held largely by white, middle-class males. Others believe that their social position has meant that they have encountered certain obstac1es. This position is held largely by those of working-class backgrounds, women and ethnic minorities. Some students believe that race, class and gender are not important factors in shaping their education. Others believe that these factors have no effect at all. The latter perception is more common among science students. However, we did not study their perceptions of how race, class and gender will affect their chances of finding jobs and being successful in careers in their fields. The researcher suggests that one's social position does affect the quality of one's graduate experience and the type of knowledge that one produces. However, the student's view of assessment and the academic record can also influence his/her academic experience.

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