Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2017

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Dr. Richard Mansfield

Second Advisor

Dr. Terra McKinnish

Third Advisor

Dr. Erin Furtak


This study analyzes how a mother with an advanced degree directly and indirectly affects her child's participation in a STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) occupation, with a specific focus on differences between females and males. Indirect effects are determined by examining the effects a mother with an advanced degree has on various adolescent and adult predictors of a STEM occupation, including: math self-efficacy, math abilities, number of hours spent on homework, motivation, future expected career, ACT scores, math ACT scores, number of advanced STEM courses in high school and postsecondary school, high school and postsecondary GPA, Calculus coursework, and college major. This study uses the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 from the National Center for Education Statistics. This research finds support for previous literature that these STEM predictors actually do predict a major and occupation in STEM. Further, this study finds that a mother with an advanced degree has both direct and indirect impacts on STEM predictors throughout all time periods, most notably in the high school achievement period. Finally, this paper finds that a mother with an advanced degree has both a negative direct and indirect effect on her son's participation of a STEM occupation, but a positive effect on her daughter's.