Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

44th. SEFI Conference, 12-15 September, Tempere, Finland


This paper reports a research study of women’s experiences of receiving family support when studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects at technical institutes in Ireland and Portugal. Specifically, it reports phenomenological analysis of 19 interviews conducted during the 2014-­2015 academic years with female students studying engineering subjects at technical institutes in Ireland and Portugal. It identifies forms of positive support received from family as well as problematic family dynamics and concerns. Parents, uncles, and aunts provide many positive forces, as do surrogates (i.e., adopted family and close mentors). Cousins and brothers also provide role models and information. For our participants, meeting family obligations and being first-­generation college students presents some challenges and stress.