GRITS conference Feb. 6-8 at MTSU to spur girls in...

GRITS conference Feb. 6-8 at MTSU to spur girls in science

The 2013 Girls Raised in Tennessee Science Collaborative Project Annual Conference will be held Wednesday through Friday, Feb. 6-8, in MTSU’s Tom H. Jackson Building.

Dr. Judith Iriarte-Gross

This year’s theme for the Girls Raised in Tennessee Science, or GRITS, conference is “Building STEM Capacity for Girls in the South.” STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

From across Tennessee and neighboring states, individuals and groups who want to help young girls and women become interested in STEM as a potential career path are welcome to register and attend.

Visit to register; there is a $25 registration fee.

“We will provide professional development workshops on tools and techniques needed to establish Expanding Your Horizons conferences to interested community groups, professional organizations, industrial and government agencies, higher education institutions and other interested groups and individuals,” said Dr. Judith Iriarte-Gross, director of MTSU’s Women in STEM Center and chemistry professor.

Expanding Your Horizons conferences encourage young women to pursue science, technology, engineering and math careers.

Through EYH Network programs, STEM role models and hands-on activities are provided for middle and high school girls. Conferences are held in 31 states and in Europe and Asia.

The professional development conference also will include:

  • sharing best practices and lessons learned from Tennessee Expanding Your Horizons leaders and from the EYH Network;
  • workshop discussions of strategies to increase minority participation for both girls and workshop leaders; and
  • identifying effective fundraising strategies and uses for publicity, post-evaluation of attendees’ future EYH conferences and the online EYH conference registration and workshop leader content management systems.

To conclude the Feb. 6 opening day of business, at 5:30 p.m. a panel of girls will share their EYH experiences.

Heather Gibbons

“EYH Nuts and Bolts” sessions will be held all three days. Heather Gibbons, the new CEO of the San Francisco Bay Area-based Expanding Your Horizons Network, will lead the “EYH Nuts and Bolts” workshops.

Gibbons has worked in informal science education for 18 years, and her national program experience includes management of a National Science Foundation-funded grant.

“MTSU has been an EYH site since 1996,” Iriarte-Gross said. “We’re excited Heather is coming. The ‘Nuts and Bolts’ are the A-to-Z of how you set up an EYH site and the steps one needs to take to do a conference.”

There also will be a special Feb. 7 workshop by Techbridge called “Role Models Matter” for all participants from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

A presentation by the American Association of University Women and lunch will follow the workshop. The AAUW Foundation is a primary sponsor of the conference.

— Randy Weiler (