Students in design courses work on projects that are influenced by ambiguity, gender orientation, and domain relatedness. This study investigates the impacts of these factors on student self-efficacy in order to increase retention in engineering disciplines. From a comprehensive literature review and feedback from engineering experts, an instrument is developed to assess student perceptions on tolerance to ambiguity (STA), project gender orientation (PGO), and project domain relatedness (PDR). Statistical analyses are conducted to examine the influence of STA, PGO, and PDR on student self-efficacy and collective efficacy. Results indicate that an increase in the gender orientation of the project decreases student self-efficacy. Furthermore, gender bias of the design project diminishes student tolerance to deal with ambiguous situations. Therefore, instructors should consider choosing more gender-neutral projects or make appropriate adjustments in project descriptions to minimize gender bias.