Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Women in engineering; Women engineers--Education; Middle school education--Parent participation; Education, Secondary--Parent participation;


Female presence within engineering careers has been a growing concern for decades, as females continue to major in engineering at a far lesser rate than males. Females may be affected by many different environmental factors, from parental influence, early engineering experiences, negative stereotypes present in male dominated careers, and male dominant culture in content classes and the workplace. Researchers have explored ways in which the gender gap within engineering can be closed, such as heightening females’ self-efficacy and providing early STEM experiences. Early engineering experiences include the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Programs, where students are submersed in an engineering experience that includes building a team robot.

The engineering program FIRST allows parent mentors to serve on teams, to provide guidance and advice as students engage in the engineering process. This study focused on relationships between parent mentoring on FIRST robotics teams and female interest in pursuing engineering and computer science related careers, along with the effect of FIRST experiences on female perceptions of engineering. From the study, female student confidence to become an engineer or a computer scientist was high after being involved in FIRST, but interest was low. This presents a confidence/interest gap that may need to be explored further. The effect of parent mentors on female student perceptions of engineering was explored, although the population of students surveyed was very low, which didn’t give enough data to draw accurate conclusions. From the student interview, mentors effect on perceptions of engineering was discussed. From opinions expressed by the student, mentors may help with confidence/interest in engineering and computer science, and may also help students stay interested and motivated to pursue the career.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Science Education Program

First Advisor

Jeffery Morgan, Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (vii, 108 pages)



File Format